To Stand and Fight Together: Richard Pierpoint and the Coloured Corps of Upper Canada.


144 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-1-55002-731-0
DDC j971.3004'960730092






Reviewed by George Sheppard


The title of this 140-page work is a tad deceptive. Steve Pitt has written a little about Richard Pierpoint (maybe six pages) and a little more about the Coloured Corps (12 pages, perhaps). But the author has written quite a bit about other things. Pitt’s first chapter, for instance, takes readers back to the 1400s, and the origins of European contact with West Africa, and he ends 140 pages later with Governor General Michaelle Jean. To really recover the lives of individuals like Pierpoint requires extensive archival research, and there is no indication that was ever done. Pierpoint, a slave originally from Bondon in Africa, served in Butler’s Rangers during the Revolutionary War and then came up with the idea for a Coloured Corps to defend Upper Canada in 1812. He served in that 30-man unit but never led it, and died about the time Upper Canada experienced rebellions in the late 1830s (when new companies of Coloured Corps were raised that served into the 1840s on construction and police service). Essentially, the thesis of the work is that Blacks in Canada served disproportionately, and that had their white neighbours done likewise, military authorities—whether in 1812, 1837, or even in the 20th century—would have “had no worries about manpower.”


But one can still recommend Pitt’s work for intermediate or high school level students interested in knowing a little about slavery, the War of 1812, Mackenzie’s rebellion, the Welland Canal, as well as the service of Blacks in World Wars I and II. The text is accompanied by about two dozen black and white illustrations, and young readers will likely find some of the ubiquitous sidebars (that explain word origins or tell “fascinating facts” about gum arabic, privateers, soul food, and the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny) illuminating. Recommended.


Pitt, Steve., “To Stand and Fight Together: Richard Pierpoint and the Coloured Corps of Upper Canada.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,