Sophia Pooley was born a slave in Fishkill, New York, the daughter of slaves Oliver and Dinah Burthen. At a young age, Sophia and her sister were taken to Niagara, where they were sold to Mohawk chieftain Joseph Brant. Brant brought the two Black girls to his home on the Mohawk reserve in Upper Canada.
Mohawk leader Joseph Brant probably owned over thirty slaves. He bought Sophia when she was seven years old and sold her when she was twelve. Sophia's memories included hunting with Brant’s children …
She attributed the scar over her eye and other injuries to Brant’s third wife, a “barbarous creature” who beat her and cut her with a knife.
She recalled that Joseph Brant punished his wife, saying:
Pooley's testimony was recorded in this book. Interviewed in her nineties (in 1855), she looked back on her life, much of it spent in slavery.
After France ceded Quebec to Great Britain, slave property was protected in Lower Canada.
This map shows the boundaries of Upper and Lower Canada and the borders with the United States.
Aboriginals were also enslaved. When Charles Field's slave Sal escaped, he posted a notice in the Niagara Herald to warn others not to harbour, employ or conceal his Indian slave.