There is very little known about Albert Hunt’s life from when he was born in Upper Canada in 1792, until 1861 when he appeared on the Township of Markham census. He was living in a household with potentially two other black families: Belinda Warren (1818-) and Alcinda Warren (1860), and Bequenia Lewis (1844), William Lewis (1846-), B. Lewis (1850-), and Walter Lewis (1852-). There also appears to be an infant by the name of Georgina Post (1860-). All are listed as coloured, mulatto or Indian on the Census and part of the same household. He is mentioned as being a widower and there is no job description for him. Sometime between 1861 and 1870 Albert moved to North Dumfries and began living with a young married couple, James (1846-1913) and Harriett Moore (1840- 1885). He is again listed as a widower, but this time his occupation is miller and it is noted that he was unable to read or write. Later that year, he was committed to the Poorhouse on November 26, 1870. Fortunately, Albert’s pleasant demeanor made an impression on a few inmates as well as the Matron of the House at the time, and he was mentioned in William Jaffray’s articles even though they never met each other. 



Source: William Jaffray’s Day at the Waterloo County Poorhouse Lecture, 1871 from the Waterloo Region Archives


This passage gives us a little glimpse at Albert Hunt’s life: he played music and was a devout member of the Church of England.

Albert was released shortly after his arrival on April 3, 1871. He died on April 13, 1879 of inflammation of the lungs in Brantford, Ontario. John S. Jones is listed on his death certificate as having been there as an informant upon his death. John S. Jones was another black resident of Brantford and worked as a labourer, as did Albert Hunt.


Harriett Moore, who lived with Albert Hunt in North Dumfries, was also a brief resident of the Poorhouse, entering on August 10, 1872 and being discharged just two days later. Her cause of pauperism was desertion by husband. Her occupation on the registry is listed as “(Col.)” indicating that she is black. There is no indication, however, as to where she went after her brief stay in the House. Although, her husband, James Moore, could have come back for her as they are mentioned as living together again in Galt on the 1881 Canadian Census. They are living beside another black family and James is working as a laborer. Harriett died on April 7, 1885 from peritonitis which is an inflammation of the peritoneum caused by a bacteria infection of the blood.


For more information on black inmates at the House of Industry and Refuge and local history on race, visit the page on race in the section, A People’s History: Poverty in Ontario.