Harriet Tubman and female fugitives from the United States maintained elevated expectations for British Canada during the late antebellum period. Their quest to reach Canadian soil was twofold: they wanted to resist enslavement in America, and also to sidestep sexual exploitation and gender degradation. Female runaways and refugees reasoned that their dual desires could be achieved in Canada, both because slavery had been abolished there via the Imperial Act of 1834 and because Queen Victoria's reign, starting in 1837, gave the impression of greater esteem and rights for women.

Unfortunately, what they found on the “Queen's soil” was that racism as well as sexist beliefs were a transcending sentiment, which did not discontinue at the American-Canadian international border. Still, these women in the dominion of Canada fought to challenge constructed borders, whether racial, sexual, or national.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.