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Many Black people left the United States after the American Revolution (1776-1783). Most of these people, known as Loyalists, settled in what is now Ontario and the Maritimes. In the early 1800s, many African Americans travelled north in search of freedom and settled in Upper Canada, Lower Canada and the maritime colonies (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). In the 1850s, African Americans came from California to what is now British Columbia seeking equality under the law. Towards the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, African Americans were drawn to the Canadian prairies by offers of inexpensive land.
The great majority of Africans arrived in the New World on ships as slaves. For years, Africans had been captured and forced aboard ships to be sold as slaves by European traders. Many of these men and women were taken to the "new" continent, especially to what is now the southern United States where workers were badly needed on plantations. Others worked as household slaves in the east and north. Unlike other immigrants, these people did not come to this continent looking for a better life. They were kidnapped and brought against their will.