The Queen's Bush was the vast unsettled area between Waterloo County, Ontario and Lake Huron during the early 19th century. However by 1833, Black settlers had begun to arrive from the United States, and cleared tracts of land for farming.[1] Some of these settlers had fought on the side of the British Crown in the Rebellion of 1837, but many were either fugitives from the southern American states or free Blacks from the Northern states.[1] This community grew to over 2,000 people of African descent by the 1840s. [1]

Because the land had been claimed by the colonial government as Clergy Reserves, the Black settlers were unable to purchase the land upon which they lived and worked. In 1850, the Earl of Elgin, governor general of Upper Canada, offered a deal to both Black and White squatters to purchase the land, but the Black settlers could not afford the payment terms. Many White settlers were able to remain on their land, and even appropriate the farmed lands of their now-displaced Black neighbors.[2] On January 1, 1850 the Queen's Bush was divided into counties, and the counties were divided into townships. Black settlers, having lost their farms, began a mass migration out of Queen's Bush to other African-Canadian communities.[1]

Plaque InscriptionEdit

An Ontario Historical Plaque located on Road 45 near where the Conestogo River crosses the road reads to following description; "In the early 19th century the vast unsettled area between Waterloo County and Lake Huron was known as the "Queen's Bush". More than 1,500 free and formerly enslaved Blacks pioneered scattered farms along the Peel and Wellesley Township border, with Glen Allan, Hawkesville and Wallenstein as important centres. Working together, these industrious and self-reliant settlers built churches, schools, and a strong and vibrant community life. American missionaries taught local Black children at the Mount Hope and Mount Pleasant schools. In the 1840s the government ordered the district surveyed and many of the settlers could not afford to purchase the land they had laboured so hard to clear. By 1850 migration out of the Queen's Bush had begun. Today African Canadians whose ancestors pioneered the Queen's Bush are represented in communities across Ontario."[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Henry, Natasha L. (2010). Emancipation Day : celebrating freedom in Canada. Toronto: Natural Heritage Books. ISBN 9781554887170. OCLC 551422142.
  2. ^ Brown-Kubisch, Linda (2004). The Queen's Bush Settlement : Black pioneers, 1839-1865. Toronto: Natural Heritage Books. ISBN 9781554883493. OCLC 285412025.
  3. ^ "The Queen's Bush Settlement, 1820-1867". Retrieved January 14, 2018.