From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Harris, Benjamin (Gunsmith in Canada)

(born: 1793) 

Benjamin Harris was a leader among the African Americans in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in the mid 1800s, according to author Adrienne Shadd in her book The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway; African Canadians in Hamilton.

The following comes from Shadd's book: Benjamin Harris, a gunsmith, was one of the nine men who signed a petition to the Lieutenant Governor for the freedom of fellow Kentuckian Jesse Happy in 1837. Harris would also file a complaint with the Board of Police against the boys who had assaulted coloured "churchgoers" in October of 1838. Three years later, Harris was one of the leaders who helped put forward the concerns of the Coloured in Hamilton to their representative in the legislature about the return of the Arkansas fugitive slave named Nelson Hackett [info The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture]. 

Benjamin Harris was considered one of the skilled trade workers in Hamilton; he owned his own shop and a "sleeping room." Benjamin(e) Harris is listed in the 1851 Canada Census; he was 58 years old and lived in the City of Hamilton, Canada West (Ontario). His birth location was Kentucky, USA, in the year 1793. Benjamin Harris had been in Canada since at least 1809, according to the Naturalization Records, 1828-1850 - Upper Canada and Canada West.    

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Happy, Jesse
NKAA Source: The Journey from tollgate to parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Harris, Benjamin (Gunsmith in Canada),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 27, 2022,

Last modified: 2017-08-25 21:17:12