Provincial plaque commemorates Chloe Cooley and the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada



    QUEENSTON HEIGHTS, ON, Aug. 23 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust
and the Niagara Parks Commission unveiled a provincial plaque to commemorate
Chloe Cooley and the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada. The plaque was
unveiled by The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario
Heritage Trust.
    "The 1793 Act to Limit Slavery was an important step toward establishing
the rights of black people in this country," said Mr. Alexander. "Chloe
Cooley's brave actions inspired change that would ultimately lead to the end
of slavery in this country. This provincial plaque will serve as a reminder to
future generations of the role that black Canadians have played in shaping our
history."
    On March 14, 1793, Chloe Cooley - a black slave in Queenston - was
forcibly taken by her owner to be sold in the United States. Black veteran
Peter Martin reported the incident and Cooley's violent protests to Lieutenant
Governor John Graves Simcoe, which led him to introduce the 1793 Act to Limit
Slavery in Upper Canada - an early step in the fight to abolish slavery. This
provincial plaque was developed with funding support from the Ministry of
Citizenship and Immigration as part of initiatives commemorating the 200th
anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.
    "With this year marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave
trade, it is fitting that we are celebrating early efforts in the fight to end
slavery in this country," said Caroline Di Cocco, Minister of Culture. "This
provincial plaque commemorates an important time in Ontario's history that has
had a lasting impact on our way of life."
    In July 1793, the Upper Canada legislature passed "an Act to prevent the
further introduction of slaves, and to limit the term of contract for
servitude within this province," which prohibited the importation of slaves to
Upper Canada. Although slaves already residing in the province were not freed
outright, the Act would gradually lead to the abolition of slavery. Following
the passage of the Act in 1793, Upper Canada became a refuge for slaves
escaping America. An estimated 30,000 slaves travelled north to freedom on the
Underground Railroad until the abolition of slavery in 1865 following the
Civil War.
    "Equality is a vital tenet of our society," said Kim Craitor, MPP for
Niagara Falls. "The story of Chloe Cooley and the 1793 Act speaks to the
struggles that early black Canadians faced and the role this legislation
played in establishing their right to freedom."
    The abolition of the Atlantic slave trade in 1807 was a further step
toward the abolition of slavery, but the practice did not end entirely in
Canada until 1834, when Britain enacted the Abolition of Slavery Act,
eradicating the slave trade across the empire. By that time, however, there
were only a small number of slaves in the country, due to the 1793 Act to
Limit Slavery in Upper Canada.
    "We are pleased this plaque, dedicated to Ms. Cooley, will join the other
markers and monuments in this park commemorating the significant contributions
and impact black Canadians had on the development and history of Ontario,"
said Jim Williams, Chairman of the Niagara Parks Commission. "The Niagara
Parks Commission is a landscape that is rich in historical and natural
significance. Over 100 monuments and plaques located within the lands we
preserve identify the landmarks, events and persons important to our history
and that of our region and province."
    This unveiling is part of the Trust's Provincial Plaque Program that
commemorates significant people, places and events in Ontario's history. Since
1953, over 1,200 provincial plaques have been unveiled.

    The Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario, dedicated to
identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's heritage.

    
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For further information:

For further information: Catrina Colme, Marketing and Communications
Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-5074, E-mail:
catrina.colme@heritagetrust.on.ca


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