Benjamin Drew wrote about the blacks in Canada 1856 in his 1856 book "A NorthSide View of Slavery. The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada. Related by themselves, with an account of the history and condition of the colored population of Upper Canada "
"The colored population of Upper Canada, was estimated in the First Report of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, in 1852, at thirty thousand. Of this large number, nearly all the adults, and many of the children, have been fugitive slaves from the United States"
Some Narratives from the book:
St. Catharines is the peaceful home of hundreds of the colored race.Of the population of about six thousand, it is estimated that eight hundred are of African descent. Nearly all the adult colored people have at some time been slaves.
William Johnson.I look upon slavery as I do upon a deadly poison. The slaves are not contented nor happy in their lot. Neither on the farm where I was in Virginia, nor in the neighborhood were the slaves satisfied. The man I belonged to did not give us enough to eat. My feet were frostbitten on my way North, but I would rather have died on the way than to go back.
It would not do to stop at all about our work,--if the people should try to get a little rest, there would be a cracking spell amongst them. I have had to go through a great deal of affliction; I have been compelled to work when I was sick. I used to have rheumatism, and could not always do so much work as those who were well,--then I would sometimes be whipped. I have never seen a runaway that wanted to go back,--I have never heard of one.
I knew a very smart young man--he was a fellow-servant of mine, who had recently professed religion--who was tied up by a quick-tempered overseer, and whipped terribly. He died not long after, and the people there believed it was because of the whipping. Some of the slaves told the owner, but he did not discharge the overseer. He will have to meet it at the day of judgment.
I had grown up quite large, before I thought any thing about liberty. The fear of being sold South had more influence in inducing me to leave than any other thing. Master used to say, that if we did n't suit him, he would put us in his pocket quick--meaning he would sell us. He never gave me a great coat in his life,--he said he knew he ought to do it, but that he could n't get ahead far enough. His son had a child by a colored woman, and he would have sold it--his own grandchild--if the other folks had n't opposed it.I have found good friends in Canada, but have been able to do no work on account of my frozen feet,--I lost two toes from my right foot. My determination is to go to work as soon as I am able. I have been about among the colored people in St. Catharines considerably, and have found them industrious and frugal. No person has offered me any liquor since I have been here: I have seen no colored person use it. I have been trying to learn to read since I came here, and I know a great many fugitives who are trying to learn.