In 1857, hundreds of black Californians migrated to western Canada, where they sought to become naturalized British subjects. In less than a decade many of them returned to California. They were propelled, in the first instance, by the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) ruling that U.S.-born African Americans were not citizens, and in the second instance by the Fourteenth (1868) and Fifteenth (1870) Amendments that reversed Dred Scott and promised voting rights. The article explores the reasons for Vancouver Island’s racial liberalism and its initial acceptance and later political reversal of African American settlers’ rights. In the long run, this pair of transnational migrations illuminate the significant roles of African Americans in shaping the course of westward expansion of both California and Vancouver Island.