New Black History Month stamp honours Chloe Cooley
A young Black woman whose resistance against enslavement led to the gradual abolition of slavery in Upper Canada is being honoured through a new stamp.
Canada Post unveiled the Chloe Cooley commemorative stamp for Black History Month. It features an illustration of Cooley which was created through “extensive consultation” with experts in local and regional history, Black history and period fashion. Archival paintings and illustrations were also used to aid in the stamp’s design.
“[Cooley] had a profound impact on the history of enslavement in Canada. Her act of resistance on the evening of March 14, 1793, ushered in legislation that would lead to the gradual abolition of enslavement in Upper Canada and provide a refuge for freedom-seekers from abroad,” Canada Post said in a statement.
Cooley was kidnapped from Queenston, Upper Canada in March 1793 by Sergeant Adam Vrooman. With the help of two other men, Vrooman violently bound and dragged her to the shore of the Niagara River. He then forced her into a boat before taking her across the river to be sold in New York State.
It is not known what happened to Cooley after that. However, her screams for help during her abduction that night did not go unnoticed. Witnesses told Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, an avowed abolitionist, about her loud protests and struggle to break free from her enslaver. He used their testimony to introduce new legislation that became known as the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada.
Passed in July 1793, the legislation set the stage for the gradual ending of enslavement in Upper Canada and created a legal refuge for those fleeing enslavement in other countries.
“Cooley herself did not benefit from the legislation, but it opened a pathway to freedom for others,” Canada Post said.
The new stamp is available at postal outlets across Canada and online at canadapost.ca.