Mathieu Da Costa, First Recorded Free Black Person To Arrive In Canada

Mathieu Da Costa is known as the first recorded free Black person to arrive in Canada. He is thought to have done so during the 17th century as part of expeditions led by two French explorers, Pierre Dugua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain.

As Mathieu Da Costa spoke Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, Mi’kmaq and pidgin Basque, the dialect many Aboriginals used for trading purposes, Da Costa became an interpreter between the Indigenous peoples and the French colonizers.

Records are sparse, but it is believed that Mathieu Da Costa worked as an explorer on numerous expeditions and guided the French through parts of Canada and the Lake Champlain region of what is now New York state.


  • Bakker, P. J. “First African into New Netherland, 1613-1614.” Halve Maen 68 (1996).
  • Cadeau, C. 2015. “Mathieu Da Costa.” All About Canadian History.
  • Bakker, Peter. 2004. “First African into New Netherland, 1613-1614.” De Halve Maen 68, no. 3 (1995): 50-53.
  • Johnston, A. J. B., n.d “Mathieu Da Costa and Early Canada: Possibilities and Probabilities,” Parks Canada, Halifax.