Black Pioneers Immigration to Alberta and Saskatchewan National Historic Event

Amber Valley, Alberta
Black Pioneer Immigration to Alberta and Saskatchewan (© Glenbow Museum Archives)
Black Pioneer Immigration to Alberta and Saskatche
(© Glenbow Museum Archives)
Address : Amber Valley, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2007-06-08
  • 1908 to 1940 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Obadiah Bowen  (Person)
Other Name(s):
  • Black Pioneers Immigration to Alberta and Saskatchewan  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 2006-032

Importance: Seeking freedom and economic opportunity, these settlers overcame many obstacles to forge vibrant farming communities


The arrival of over a thousand African Americans to this region between 1908 and 1911 marked the Dominion of Canada’s first experience with Black immigration en masse. It sparked a backlash in parts of the press and business community that led the federal government to adopt an unofficial policy of exclusion by race, limiting the numbers of Black people entering Canada until the 1960s. Nonetheless, these courageous settlers established their own institutions, created a rich social life, and forged vibrant farming communities largely in isolation from other groups and in keeping with what they had known in the United States.