Brantford's Black History Series
The Importance of Sophia Pooley
Sophia Pooley was born into slavery in Fishkill, New York, the daughter of Oliver and Dinah Burthen, also enslaved. When she was seven years old, Sophia was taken to Niagara and sold to Joseph Brant along with her sister. Brant brought the two girls back to his home on the Mohawk reserve in what was then known as Upper Canada. She lived with Brant, and in some ways was considered part of the family. When she was 12, she was sold to Samuel Hatt of Ancaster. At this time, legislations had already passed to end slavery in Canada. Sophia was not aware of this until seven years had passed and neighbours told her she was being held illegally.
Sophia's story is considered to be one of, if not the only first-person narrative of slavery in Canada.