French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan
P.O. Box 1900, Royal Oak, 48068-1900
Slavery in New France
 
Slavery existed in New France just as it existed throughout North America.  It was practiced by Native Americans, residents of the present-day United States, and in New France.  As abhorrent as it is to think that some of our ancestors owned slaves, it is not a reflection of our own values.  The purpose of this page is to provide you with the resources that will 1. provide you with accurate (versus sensationalized) background information; and 2.  allow you to research whether your French-Canadian ancestors owned slaves.  While the existence of slavery is not a surprise to members of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, it does surprise some who have not researched the history and culture of Detroit, Michigan, or New France.
Background Articles:
Who and What Were the Panis Indians Buried from Ste. Anne de Detroit? by Suzanne Boivin Sommerville - this article was originally published in the July 2011 issue of Michigan's Habitant Heritage..
 
Slavery in New France - Misconceptions, Misundstandings, and Myths, by Diane Wolford Sheppard.  In addition to background information, this article provides a bibliography, and a list of slave owners in the Detroit River Region during four dates or periods: 1. Before 1712; 2. After the 1712 Fox War; 3. In 1750; and 4. In 1762.
 
Online Articles:
 
Slave Owners in the Detroit River Region Through 1762, by Diane Wolford Sheppard – profiles for the remaining families will be completed in the future.  
 
Article about a freed slave:
Marie Joseph / Marie Josette / Josephte, Panisse du Sieur Charles Moran: 1766-1796 Detroitby Gail Moreau-DesHarnais – this article was originally published in the January 2010 issue of Michigan’s Habitant Heritage; it discusses one of the slaves in the Detroit River Region who was freed by her owner.
 
Marie Josèphe was not the only slave freed by their owners in the Detroit River Region.  For additional examples, see the parish records or notary records for the marriages of individuals who had been freed by their owners.  For example, Louis Joseph Brunet and Louise, a former panisse slave who had been freed by Monsieur Dagneau dit Dequindre, were married 26 June 1766 in Ste Anne de Detroit [Ancestry.com, Drouin Collection, D, Détroit, Ste-Anne, 1702-1780 (the records actually start in 1744), Image 136].
 
Book Reviews:
Bonds of Alliance by Brett Rushforth – Reviewed by Suzanne Boivin Sommerville
 
Dawn of Detroit A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom and the City of the Straits, by Tiya Miles - Reviewed by Diane Wolford Sheppard
 
Slave Owners are enumerated in the Following Censuses:
1750 Census – the census can be downloaded from Library and Archives Canada: http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search-recherche/arch-adv-elab.php?Language=eng  Enter Mikan # 2318899 in the search screen.
1762 Census – see the Census Page for Gail Moreau and Diane Wolford Sheppard’s transcription and annotations to the 1762 Census.
Additional Censuses in the Detroit River Region that enumerated slave owners:
1768, 1779, 1782, 1796, 1810, 1830.
 
Additional Sources for information about Slave Owners in the Detroit River Region:
Parish Records for Ste. Anne’s (Detroit), Assumptions (Sandwich/Windsor), Burials: FCHSM Members log in to view Gail Moreau-DesHarnais’ articles which translate the key information regarding all of those buried from Ste. Anne’s, Assumption, St. Jean-Baptiste (Amherstburg), and St. Pierre (Tilbury).  These articles were published in MHH from April 2010-January 2013.
Notary Records – see the Land Page on the FCHSM website for Diane Wolford’s Sheppard’s article about the land and other records included in the Drouin Collection of Notary Records in the Detroit River Region through 1796.
Chaussegros de Lery - 1749 Detroit Fort - LAC
Gaspard Joseph Chaussegros de Léry’s 1749 Map of the Fort – Available from Library and Archives Canada: http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/exploration-settlement/new-france-archives/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=40554&

This map shows that the homes within the fort did not have other buildings on their property.  Therefore, the slaves lived in the homes of their owners.