CANADA A REFUGE FOR THE SLAVE. 125
The measure was not needed in any of the present Canadian provinces. The memorable first of August, 1834, so longed-for by %Vest Indian slaves, so feared by West Indian planters, had nothing to render it memorable in northern latitudes. Two young slaves in Upper Canada, Mr. Hamilton tells us—with whom may have been possibly a very few others—took their freedom by virtue of the Imperial measure, as the last representatives of a system which Canadian courts had condemned to death a quarter of a century and more in advance of the national
warrant. But of the immense sum of $1oo,00o,00o
appropriated by the British government as an indemnity to the owners of the ;81,000 slaves then set free through-out the empire not one solitary dollar found its way into Canadian hands !
The first legislators of Upper Canada, when at Niagara in 1i93, under some pressure from Lieutenant-governor Simcoe, they enacted that all persons previously held in slavery elsewhere should after the passage of the act containing this provision be free on arriving in that province, little dreamed of the results to follow their action •. after many days". That action was nevertheless preparing their new province to become for years a cause of dread and vexation and severe financial loss to Southern slave-holders ; and the name Canada to many a Negro on American soil in sufferings worse than death to be a synonym for freedom, home, life.
From an early period Canada seemed predestined to be an Arcadia to the captive African, and the North Star to be his guide to freedom. Francis Parkman, in a sketch of a journey in 1;51 of Father Picquot, a Sulpician missionary, and at the time a French emissary, tells us that "during eight days he coasted the northern shore of Lake Ontario with various incidents, such as an encounter