Marie-Josèphe Angélique : Montreal on Fire

Marie-Josèphe Angélique was an enslaved Black woman owned by Thérèse de Couagne de Francheville in Montreal. In 1734, she was charged with arson after a fire leveled Montreal’s merchants’ quarter. It was alleged that Angélique committed the act while attempting to flee her bondage. She was convicted, tortured, and hanged. While it remains unknown whether she set the fire, Angélique’s story has come to symbolize Black resistance and freedom. We discuss Angélique’s story, and that of enslavement in Canada, with three women who have examined the trial: Dr. Afua Cooper, historian, poet, and professor at Dalhousie University; Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne, historian & archivist, and Ayana O’Shun, director of “Black Hands: Trial of the Arsonist Slave.”

Strong and Free is produced by Historica Canada and Media Girlfriends

This episode was written and produced by Josiane Blanc. 

Senior producers are Garvia Bailey and Hannah Sung. 

Sound design and mix by David Moreau and Gabbie Clarke. 

The Media Girlfriends team is rounded out by Lucius Dechausay, Jeff Woodrow, and Nana aba Duncan, the founder of Media Girlfriends. 

Thank you to Ayana O’Shun, Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne, author of Le Procès de Marie-Josèphe-Angélique, and to Dr. Afua Cooper, author of The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal.  

Thank you to our script consultant, Dr. Dorothy Williams, historian and author.  

Thank you to Dominique Fils-Aimé and Ensoul Records for the use of Dominique’s song “There is probably fire,” written by Dominique Fils-Aimé and Jacques G Roy. Published by Ensoul Records and Harris & Wolff.  

Fact-checking by Sean Young.

English versioning by Power of Babel.

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Historica Canada 2021