British Methodist Episcopal Church

The BME churches are a fascinating piece of Niagara’s history.  This modest church is a part of Niagara’s black history.  Some blacks came as United Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution, and some served in the War of 1812.  On an ongoing basis Niagara was one terminus  of the Underground Railway by which many people escaped slavery in the United States.  It still has a vibrant congregation, and sponsors events throughout the year.    

The Niagara church was built on Murray Street in 1836, very simply (and inexpensively, according to one of the parishioners who worries about its ongoing maintenance), and the building was moved to the current location in 1856.  It is now designated as a National Heritage site. 

The building is very basic, but retains most of the original interior, and has simple stained glass windows.

It is worth visiting, in part to reflect upon the complex nature of Niagara, its history and its population, and on the nature of freedom and how it might be maintained and celebrated. 

Factors to consider include: 

-  The building is largely in its original form – preservation of historic places often occurs because there is no money available to ‘improve’ it – but enough to keep it from demolition. 

-  How can we help ensure the survival of such places?

-  The nature of freedom, and how to protect and celebrate it.