Why teach Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is typically used to teach students about American antebellum slavery. But Ontario classrooms are missing an opportunity to use this book as a springboard to teach about Canada’s role in the Underground Railroad, the abolition movement, and how slaves were freed in Canada and the British Empire.

The Underground Railroad is part of Ontario’s history. Uncle Tom’s Cabin can give students a lens into both Ontario and Canada’s past, our divergence from the laws and norms of the United States, and creates an opportunity for students to feel affinity with this important chapter of Canadian history. In particular, the escape of Eliza and George to Amherstburg, Ontario, and historical sites such as the terminus of the Underground Railroad in Buxton, Ontario create opportunities for students in Southwest Ontario to see the importance of their local history.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin also opens the door to talk to students about other social issues, including forms of social “othering,” including racism and sexism, the historic importance of women in social change, modern-day slavery around the world, and the importance of borders for people fleeing tyranny.


Curriculum Connections

Intermediate/Senior Level English

Intermediate/Senior Level History

Senior Level Canadian & International Law

Senior Level Challenge & Change in Society

Senior Level Canadian & World Issues


Uncle Toms Cabin Study Guide

Full text online
Free online audiobook version


Exercise Sheets

Chapter 1 – 5 Exercises

Chapter 6 – 10 Exercises

Chapter 11 – 15 Exercises

Chapter 16 – 20 Exercises

Chapter 21 – 27 Exercises

Chapter 28 – 30 Exercises

Chapter 31 – 36 Exercises

Chapter 37 – 44 Exercises


Supplementary Materials

Introductory video for Uncle Tom’s Cabin (PBS)


Chapters 1 – 5

Slave Laws Across Borders in 1793

Film: Amazing Grace (2007)


Chapters 11 – 15

Martin Luther King, Jr – Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Densmore – Quakers and the Underground Railroad- Myths and Reality


Chapters 16 – 20

BBC – Indiana Law draws Calls for Boycotts


Chapters 21 – 27

Findings – Global Slavery Index 2014

Excerpt from CHAPTER VII, Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass

Full Text: Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass (autobiography)


Chapters 28 – 30

Jin-Sung – I Am Selling My Daughter for 100 Won

Findings – Global Slavery Index 2014


Chapters 31 – 36

Slave songs:
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Had (Music and lyrics)

Roll, Jordan Roll (YouTube video)

Slave Songs of the United States (full PDF book)


Chapters 37 – 40

1781 Posting for a Runaway Slave in Canada

Fitzpatrick – Child migrants flooding the US Border 2014

Pattison – North Koreans working as state-sponsored slaves in Qatar


Cumulative Exercise Materials

Video: Unchained Memories: Reading from Slave Narratives

Findings – Global Slavery Index 2014

Ontario Historic Sites and museums related to the Underground Railroad (For class trips and research.)

If you choose to talk with your students about refugees and immigration, this video on What Makes a Good Immigrant may spark discussion.