Hands-on Canadian History: Underground Railroad – Escape Game

In an attempt to be free, black slaves in the southern states made a dangerous and difficult journey north to Canada on the Underground Railroad, running from their owners and the slave hunters. The experiences they faced would have been terrifying, but so incredibly full of hope.

Hands On Canadian History - The Underground Railroad

Flashlight at Night on Shutterstock

Escape: A Night Time Hide And Seek Game

What you need:

  • a flashlight
  • a large area to play, with many hiding spots – like the woods or a paintball field, or even indoors if you have the space to play
  • at least 1 person to be a slave hunter
  • designated start and end areas
  • night

To play, wait until it is getting dark. Mark out an area to be the plantation for a starting zone and an area to be Canada to reach at the end.

The goal is to make the trip from the start to the end without getting caught by the slave hunter, using the hiding spots along the way to stay hidden and safe. When the game begins, slaves can leave the plantation at any time they choose, carefully sneaking their way around the play zone and avoiding the slave hunters. You can move in small groups, or individuals. Remember to be quiet, quick, and use any hiding spots to your advantage.

Slave hunters are not allowed to guard the plantation or any particular hiding zone, but must roam the play area to try and catch them along their journey. Using the flashlight, search for hiding and running slaves. If you catch one with your light, they have to go back to the start.

If a slave manages to get to Canada quickly, they can come back and be a “conductor” – helping other slaves on their journey to Canada. However, if you are caught – you lose your freedom.

If all the slaves get to Canada (yay!), trade out players for a new slave hunter and begin again.

Note: I know this game makes the Underground Railroad (which was a very terrible experience) seem like it is kind of fun, so it might be worth reminding your kids after playing that being caught wouldn’t have been just a reset back to start but could have meant severe punishment, or worse. 

See all 31 Days of  Hands-on Canadian History.

My Canadian Time Capsule

2 Comment(s)

  • by Sunshine Posted October 11, 2016 1:02 pm

    Thank you for all the resources you are creating and sharing with this series! Since you asked for ideas, I’ll mention that I would love to see some resources for this topic that focus on the Canadian aspect of things. There are many, many good quality resources looking at the Underground Railroad, but few that I have found that focus on Canada – why it was the end goal of the Underground Railroad, where in the country the escaped slaves settled, what they found once they arrived (most simply stop at the “getting there” point), how they made their living, what attitudes were like toward escaped slaves, the type of culture their descendants have now and how it is different from the descendants of those slaves who did not escape (in U.S.), etc.

    • by LisaMarie Posted November 6, 2016 8:52 am

      Those are great ideas. I haven’t found any great Canadian resources yet – but as soon as I do I’ll be sure to share!

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