Chloe Cooley


Image: Black enslaved woman Chloe Cooley, forcibly sold on 14 Mar 1873.


On March 14, 1793 Chloe Cooley, an enslaved Black woman in Queenston, Upper Canada, was bound and thrown in a boat to be taken across the river and sold in the United States. She resisted fiercely; Peter Martin, a free Black man, noticed her screams and struggles and brought a witness, William Grisley, to report the incident to Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe.

Simcoe supported the abolition of enslavement even before he came to Upper Canada, and used the Chloe Cooley incident as a catalyst to introduce the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada. The motion was opposed in the House of Assembly—some of its members were slave owners. But the government brokered a compromise and on July 9 the Upper Canada legislature passed "an Act to prevent the further introduction of slaves, and to limit the term of contract for servitude" in the province.

Although no enslaved persons in the province were freed outright, the act prohibited the importation of enslaved people into Upper Canada and allowed the gradual abolition of enslavement. It was the first legislation in the British Empire limiting enslavement and set the stage for the beginnings of the Underground Railroad.

From Slavery to Freedom
Scroll down to read "Chloe Cooley and the Limitation of Slavery in Ontario" and view a digitized image of the Anti-Slavery Act. This site also highlights the current network of Black heritage sites in Ontario. From a special edition of Heritage Matters, a publication of the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Retracing Niagara
This travel article provides a description of a limestone mural and small monument in Niagara-on-the-Lake that references Black slave Chloe Cooley’s forced and violent removal to slave masters in the US. Also mentions other monuments located along Niagara’s Freedom Trail. From the canoe.ca website.

Provincial plaque: Chloe Cooley and the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada
Read the text of a provincial plaque that commemorates Chloe Cooley and the 1793 Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada. From the website for the Ontario Heritage Trust.

From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad
Click on "Preview this book" and then scroll down to page 152 for an account of the horrific "Chloe Cooley incident" which ultimately contributed to the development of Canada's first antislavery legislation in 1793. From Google Books.

August 1 is Emancipation Day in Ontario
This article includes a reference to Chloe Cooley, an enslaved African woman was forcibly taken to US territory to be sold as a slave. From the website for the share newspaper.