Chloe Cooley plaque

My Trip +

"On 14 March 1793, farmer and former Butler's Ranger Adam Vrooman violently bound Cooley in a boat and transported her across the Niagara River to be sold in New York State. Cooley resisted fiercely, causing Vrooman to require the assistance of two other men — his brother Isaac Vrooman and one of the five sons of Loyalist McGregory Van Every, a number of whom served with their father in the Butler’s Rangers." - Natasha Henry, 2013




Black History Significance

"Peter Martin, [a Black Loyalist] in service to Butler (of Butler's Rangers) stationed at Fort George, was caught in a unique position. He was told that a farmer by the name of William Fromond [aka Adam Vrooman] who lived nearby (in what is present day Virgil, Ontario) had planned on tying up a young teenager named Chloe Cooley who was in his service and forcibly taking her to the United States to sell her into American Slavery. Fromond carried out his plan, aided by his brother and another culprit by the name of Venevry. A witness to the event by the name of Grisley, recounted how the young girl had "screamed violently and made resistance" as she was dragged to the shore of the Niagara River and pushed into a small boat. She was taken to a waiting slave trader on the eastern side of the Niagara River. On that American side of the river, she was forced off the boat close to where another man was similarly bound with ropes.

"Under the New Government, Governor Simcoe had done his best to abolish Slavery but his proposed anti-slavery laws did not foresee the export of slaves. Fromond had found a loophole to make money from selling human beings to the United States. While a workman's yearly income in the 1790's was the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars a year, the sale of a slave could could bring in as much as the equivalent of $200 and go as high as $1,200 dollars per slave. Fromond, his brother and their accomplice Venevry [McGregory Van Every] made a substantial income for a day in dealing in human flesh."

- James Black (2009), pp. 5-7





General Information

An Ontario Heritage Trust plaque is located adjacent to the Niagara River Recreational Parkway opposite 14936 Niagara Parkway. It reads:


On March 14, 1793 Chloe Cooley, an enslaved Black woman in Queenston, was bound, thrown in a boat and sold across the river to a new owner in the United States. Her screams and violent resistance were brought to the attention of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe by Peter Martin, a free Black and former soldier in Butler's Rangers, and William Grisley, a neighbour who witnessed the event. Simcoe immediately moved to abolish slavery in the new province. He was met with opposition in the House of Assembly, some of whose members owned slaves. A compromise was reached and on July 9, 1793 an Act was passed that prevented the further introduction of slaves into Upper Canada and allowed for the gradual abolition of slavery although no slaves already residing in the province were freed outright. It was the first piece of legislation in the British Empire to limit slavery and set the stage for the great freedom movement of enslaved African Americans known as the Underground Railway.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario


Black, James. 2009. Standing Up for Freedom. Our Stories - Remembering Niagara's Proud Black History. Pp 5-7.

Henry, Natasha. 2013 (edited 2016). Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada. Canadian Encyclopedia.

Joe (JCM). Photo of Chloe Cooley Plaque.

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