Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

ARCHIVED - Canadian Confederation

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Provinces and Territories

Key Terms

Loyalists / Black Loyalists

The Loyalists were Americans of various ethnic backgrounds who supported the British during the American Revolution and subsequently fled the United States to escape persecution. As many as half of the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Loyalists who left America during and after the Revolutionary War settled throughout what is now Canada.

As many as 30,000 of the Loyalists settled in the Maritime colonies, the largest contingents arriving in 1783 and 1784. The two biggest settlements were in the Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick, and at Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Other settlements were located along the St. Lawrence River, the Niagara Peninsula and the Detroit River. The sudden influx of emigrants led to the creation of New Brunswick and Cape Breton as separate colonies in 1784, and Upper Canada in 1791. The Loyalists were active in social and governmental institutions, and continued to exert influence in their communities long after their arrival in Canada.

Not all Loyalists were of British ancestry. Many were from religious, linguistic or ethnic minorities, who felt their rights would be better protected under the British Crown.

Among these were significant numbers of Black Loyalists. Some had been slaves owned by white Loyalists who had fled to Canada. Others were escaped slaves and free Blacks who had fought for the Crown during the Revolution. Like the Acadians before them, Black Loyalists were denied many rights and privileges, and experienced an even greater degree of persecution and prejudice. Some Black communities dating from the period still exist, particularly in the Maritimes.


"Loyalists".  --  Encyclopedia of Canada's peoples.  --  Ed. Paul R. Magosci.  --  Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1999.  --  P. 938.

Wilson, Bruce G.  --  "Loyalists".  --  Canadian encyclopedia : year 2000 edition.  --  Ed. James H. Marsh.  --  3rd print ed.  --  Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 1999.  --  P. 1374.