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Afua Cooper
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The Hanging Of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  179 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Writer, historian and poet Afua Cooper tells the astonishing story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in April 1734 and condemned to die a brutal death. In a powerful retelling of Angélique’ s story -- now supported by archival illustrations -- Cooper builds on 15 years of research to shed new light ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 24th 2006)
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This is the book that got away. This means I owe Dr. Cooper an apology. Around the time this book came out, I was in Montreal. There was an exhibit about the fire and part of the exhibit was a section about whether Angelique was guilty or innocent of the crime of arson. It was a very interesting exhibit. This book was being sold in several stores, and I was very, very tempted to buy it. I didn’t, mostly because of budgeting. But I should have broken my budget because I always regretted it.
Ah, t
Books written by POC
I'm part way through "The Hanging of Angelique", which is about the Atlantic Slave Trade in Canada. I know that Canadian history rarely, if *ever*, talks about our history of slavery, so this whole book has been both appalling and eye-opening for me.[return][return]Basically, Angelique was accused of burning down Montreal in the 1700s (the book's at home right now, so I'm fuzzy on the details). She had been a slave coming out of Portugal (I am learning so much about the Atlantic Slave Trade this ...more
Before I read this book I didn't know that Canadians were willing participants in the slave trade. They enslaved African Americans and Native Canadians and treated them like possessions -- just like they did in the United States. I also didn't know that John Graves Simcoe was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in Upper Canada. Something I hadn't ever considered before was also brought to my attention -- the Portuguese initiated the slave trade!

Afua Cooper belives that the collection of co
Oct 09, 2007 Nahliah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Interested in slavery in Canadian history
Good read. A good introduction to slavery in Canada. I didn't know about how and when slavery was conducted in Canada and under what circumstances for the slaves involved and so the text was informative. The author tries to stretch her lack of material and authority on the life of this one slave and tries to present to the audience an authoritative text on slavery in Canada, which it is not. Unlike Edward S. Morgan in "American Slavery American Freedom" she's not drawing from a wealth of resourc ...more
Sean Liburd
Oct 13, 2010 Sean Liburd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Slavery is Canada’s best-kept secret, locked within the national closet. And because it is a secret it is written out of official history. But slavery was an institutionalized practice for over two hundred years. In this ground breaking work “The Hanging of Angélique,” Dr. Afua Cooper reveals what Canadian history Textbooks omits the truth. Canada was not only a safe haven for slaves, it was also an active participant in the slave trade. Some historians will argue that it was only a mild form o ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Enikő rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I sought this out after translating an article about Marie-Joseph Angélique for the Canadian Encyclopedia. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, being a historical account, not a novel, but it read well and was very interesting.

This book is not only about the bondswoman Angélique, but also about the history of the Canadian slave trade. (Yes, there was such a thing!) Afua Cooper says slavery "is Canada's best-kept secret, locked within the national closet." (p. 68 of my edition) The author expose
Lisa Llamrei
May 30, 2016 Lisa Llamrei rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In April of 1734, a fire destroyed a large part of Montreal. Marie-Joseph Angelique, a Portuguese-born slave woman, was convicted of starting the fire and sentenced to die. In this book, Afua Cooper sheds light on the life of Angelique and the conditions under which slaves lived and died in colonial Canada.

If you think that Canada was never a slave society, if you think of Canada simply as the safe haven at the end of the Underground Railroad, you need to read this book. What made Canada the des
Feb 05, 2016 Alejandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a history book, not historical based fiction. It is not a biography either. The book centers on Marie Joseph Angelique, a black domestic slave who possibly initiated a fire that destroyed a large section of Montreal in 1734. The author brings Angelique's voice back to life through trial records and other legal documents available from the time, and while the tone is fairly academic, her voice comes through clear and strong. Did Angelique commit the crime she was punished for? We'll never ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely interesting look at something never discussed- slavery in Canada. In US slave literature & history, Canada was seen as the land of freedom that escaping slaves followed the North Star to. Using as a case study the story of an 18th Century slave in New France, the author as highlighted the existence of Canadian colonial slavery (under the French and British)which could be just as emotionally and physically traumatizing & degrading as slavery in the West Indies, Europe and the ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Iejones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose it is obvious that I LOVE history. This story of overcoming, achievers and survivors impels me everyday to face the rut and grunt of daily life in the post-modern world. This story of enslaved African women, is well written historical account of the life of Angelique. There were Africans enslaved in Canada and their plight was not as light or indifferent. Angelique was accused of setting a fire and hanged for involvement. Cooper is a noted scholar on the African presence in Canada has ...more
Eleanor Cowan
Oct 28, 2016 Eleanor Cowan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I had no idea! Through the painful lens of Canada's slave-owning history, Dr. Afu Cooper traces the untold story of a young woman slave, who, in 1734, under grisly torture, admitted to arson and was hung, in public, in Old Montreal.This history tracks countless countries that trafficked in innocent human lives, bled Africa dry and did untold harm. Canada is among the guilty.

Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
Dec 04, 2015 Felix rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book, but I have to admit I struggled. It's mind-boggling that this facet of Canadian history is ignored, and for that I'm glad I read it, but the book overall was a bit dry. The author took a very macro approach to the issue, focusing on societal issues heavy on the names and dates of people and things I would never remember. I walked away feeling like I still didn't really get to know Angelique, and wasn't particularly invested.

It's definitely worth reading, but d
Aug 17, 2008 Lesliemae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Canadians
Recommended to Lesliemae by: GE Clarke
Afua Cooper meticulously explores the untold story of slavery in Canada. The court records of Angelique, she "boldly suggests" create the first Canadian slave narrative. While I think her book is interesting in its treatment of early conditions in New France ... I do not think the court records create a true narrative. There is very little of Angelique's actual voice and Cooper's subjective suggestions do nothing to give that voice any life. The only story created is by the elite group of white ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Itisme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important piece of historical non-fiction. As the book points out Canada tends to perceive itself as less harsh than the US when it comes to the practice and support of slavery in its history.

Part of why there still exists a race problem in this country is because there is an erasure of the history of black people in this country. This is changing but it is every so s-l-o-w.

This book filled me with rage, disgust and shame.

This book was a library loan.
Magdalena Milosz
An excellent and mind-opening account of the trial of Marie-Joseph Angélique, an enslaved Portuguese Black woman in 18th-century Montreal, charged with setting a fire to her mistress's house that spread and destroyed several blocks of the city. Afua Cooper provides ample context both from the perspective of the history of slavery in Canada and the larger migration patterns of enslaved people from Africa to Europe or North America, or both.
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
May 14, 2008 Katie_marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This is a Canadian must-read to open our eyes. The novel is more of a historical perspective on the now-forgotten time of slavery in Canada. The author uses Angelique's story to trace the path of slavery from Portugal, where it began, to the West Indes, New England, and, yes, Canadian soil. We weren't innocent in this area and it is almost worse because we have forgotten the struggle of the people who lived as slaves.
Heather Judson
Nov 19, 2010 Heather Judson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a Canadian History class. Canadians tend to pride themselves on having avoided slavery, unlike those treacherous Americans. Not so. Admittedly, the author takes license with what Angelique's thoughts, feelings and motives were on the night the fire started, but it is still an important look into the history of slavery in Canada. I found it fascinating and enlightening.
Jan 01, 2012 erika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I really wanted to love this book. But there was so much unprovable speculation about Angélique's motives, emotions, and life, yet it was written much too dryly to be compelling as a story by itself.
Nathan Whatley
An important look at a dark moment in history, but Cooper's book reads too much like a textbook. It lacks nuance as it tries to paint New France as a slave owning society. Much better books have been written on the subject.
Wendy Howell
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Afua Cooper is a Jamaican-born Canadian historian, author and dub poet.

Born in Westmoreland, Jamaica, Cooper grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and migrated to Toronto in 1980. She holds a Ph.D. in African-Canadian history with specialties in slavery and abolition. Her dissertation, "Doing Battle in Freedom’s Cause", is a biographical study of Henry Bibb, a 19th-century African-American abolitionist wh
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