Black then blacks and Montreal, 1780s-1880s By Frank Mackey

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An innovative and engaging recounting of a long-ignored period of Black history.


A sixteen-year-old slave boy who finds freedom in a most unusual way, a teenage prostitute who does not, a business manager of the 1790s, a four-year-old boy placed as a servant, a respected activist of the 1830s, a fugitive Kentucky slave who makes a name for himself as a jockey and horse trainer - these are some of the people we meet in these thirty stories about black life in and around Montreal between the last days of slavery and the early years of Confederation. The black experience in Montreal during these eighty-odd years, a time in which the city grew from a colonial backwater into the metropolis of a new country, has remained largely unknown. These stories begin to fill that gap.

Black Then is intended for readers of all ages. Some stories drive home the historical fact of Canadian slavery, a truth still widely ignored, but for the most part, they are tales of how ordinary people managed to cope - or not - with daily life. Based on original research, these engaging stories bring to light a wealth of previously neglected historical information.
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