Reading log #5                                          Megan Mckinlay

The story of Chloe Cooley is very important for Canadian history.  Her story was a catalyst for the abolishment of slavery in Canada.  Her resistance and the resistance of others in the black community helped bring the abolishment of slavery.  John Graves Simcoe used her story to move Canada towards acceptance and freedom. His act also known as the Simcoe Act created a safe haven for slaves entering Canada.

The resistance of slaves like Chloe Cooley was very important for the abolishment of slavery in Canada.  Slaves were seen as property not people so by resisting they were trying to assert their human rights.  They would rebel by destroying things such as tools and livestock, talking back to masters, and refusing to work.  These people were demanding to have their voices heard.  In a journal article by Aufa Cooper it speculates that the reason Cooley’s master was selling her could be because “He could not ‘control’ her” (1).  Female slaves would rebel by controlling fertility and abortions, so the master couldn’t own their children.  Although some of these acts were simple and/or small they helped give them a little confidence and self-worth back.

John Graves Simcoe was the Lieutenant Governor General of Upper Canada at the time of the Chloe Cooley incident.  He came to Canada with the mindset that slaves were to be treated as human beings.  The story of Chloe Cooley was exactly what he needed to try to abolish slavery in Canada but because of the heavy opposition from members of parliament that owned slaves he was forced to compromise with a bill that slowly frees slaves.  The Act stated “children born to slave mothers after 1793; they would become free on their 25 birthday.  Their children would become free at birth.” (2)  This created a gradual decline in slaves but sadly it did not stop slavery in 1793.  However, the Act did have a clause that had more immediate freedom of slaves Cooper stated it “prohibit[ed] the importation of slaves into the colony” (3) and allowed “any slave arriving on Upper Canadian soil from another country would immediately be free.”(4).  The Simcoe’s Act created a safe haven for the slaves escaping the United States.  When people started learning Canada was safe they would leave their homes in hopes of freedom.  This was the creation of the Underground Railway that would save black lives for years to come.



  1. Aufa Cooper, “Acts of Resistance: Black Men and Women Engage Slavery in Upper Canada, 1793-1803,” Ontario History, Vol.99, Issue 1 (Spring 2007), 11
  2. Ibid. 9
  3. Ibid. 9
  4. Ibid. 10