Slave traders packed ships with as many slaves as could be carried.
Image: Slave traders packed ships with as many slaves as could be carried.

1605: First Black in Canada
The first named Black person to set foot on Canadian soil was Mathieu Da Costa, a free man who was hired as a translator for Samuel de Champlain's 1605 excursion.

20 August 1619: BNA's First Blacks Arrive at Jamestown
The first shipload of African slaves to reach British North America landed at Jamestown in 1619.

1628: Slave Boy, First Black Resident of New France
The first named enslaved African to reside in Canada was a six-year-old boy, the property of Sir David Kirke. The child was sold several times, lastly to Father Paul Le Jeune, and was baptized Catholic and given the name Olivier Le Jeune.


King Louis XIV (courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Image: King Louis XIV (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-107650).

March 1685: Code Noir
In 1685, Louis XIV's Code Noir code permitted slavery for economic purposes only and established strict guidelines for the ownership and treatment of slaves. It was officially limited to the West Indies and, although it was never proclaimed in New France, it was used in customary law.

1 May 1689: Louis XIV Gives Slavery Limited Approval in New France
King Louis XIV of France gave limited permission for the colonists of New France to keep Black and Pawnee Indian slaves. The colonists had complained about the shortage of available servants and workers and appealed to the Crown for permission to own slaves.