History of Fugitive Slave Chapel site
In 1986, the London Public Library installed a plaque to recognize the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a “priority one” heritage property in the City. It is the site of the first church of the Black community in London.
In the 1800s, Canada abolished slavery and subsequently, it became a refuge for slaves fleeing from the U.S. The 1840s saw a significant gathering of slave refugees in the area. In 1847, land was bought for the African Methodist Episcopal Church (also referred to as the Fugitive Slave Chapel). In 1869, the congregation moved to Beth Emmanuel church at 430 Grey Street which still stands today with a congregation as strong as ever.
Despite its prominence, the site isn’t designated by the government and is therefore not protected under the Ontario Heritage Act. Funding is being raised to move the Fugitive Slave Chapel beside Beth Emmanuel Church and preserve and share its history. In its new location, the hopes are that “the chapel will be used to preserve its history and facilitate research and education about the underground rail road and related subjects. The centre will also include a Black history library and a small showroom or museum for Black historical artefacts” (FSCPP).
Links: Learn more on Historypin, London Public Library, and the Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project (FSCPP).