This weekly newspaper was edited and published by negroes in the Province of Canada West (now called Ontario) where many fugitive slaves from the United States had settled. The first number, intended as a specimen, was issued at Windsor, dated March 24, 1854. The editor was Samuel A. Ward.
Mary Ann (Shadd) Carey was born on October 9, 1823, into a prominent black family in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest of thirteen children. When she was ten years old, her parents moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she attended a Quaker school for 5 years. Early in her life she became dedicated to the promotion of self-reliance and independence among black Canadians. She helped found the Provincial Freeman and became the first black North American female editor and publisher, with the purpose of transforming black refugees into model citizens. In 1856 she married Thomas F. Carey of Toronto, and the couple lived in Chatham, Canada, until his death in 1860. Mary Carey ultimately moved to Washington, D.C. where she opened a school for black children and in 1870 she became the first black woman lawyer in the United States.The Provincial Freeman was devoted to Anti-Slavery, Temperance and General Literature, and was affiliated with no particular Political Party. Its prospectus stated, “it will open its columns to the views of men of different political opinions, reserving the right, as an independent Journal, of full expression on all questions or projects affecting the people in a political way; and reserving, also, the right to express emphatic condemnation of all projects, having for their object in a great or remote degree, the subversion of the principles of the British Constitution, or of British rule in the Provinces.” In July, 1856, the office was seized for debt and publication was suspended until Nov. 25, when issue number 16 was published. The volume was closed with issue number 49, August 22, 1857.
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- Provincial Freeman, Chatham, Canada West – Complete 1854–1857