February is Black History Month, during which people from across the country recognize and celebrate the many achievements of Black Canadians and their contributions to making Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today.
From the steps of the church Harriett Tubman worshipped at to where communities come together to celebrate abolition to the many Black-owned business that are present in our neighbourhoods, Black culture is everywhere in St. Catharines.
Take a Black History tour of St. Catharines
Black history is an important part of St. Catharines past and the achievements, contributions and culture of the many Black Canadians who’ve made their home here continue to be an important part of our present and future.
Harriet Tubman is among the great heroes of the 19 century. A legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet led hundreds of enslaved Blacks to freedom. The Underground Railroad and Niagara’s Freedom Trail were a network of people who hid and guided enslaved black people who were leaving the United States to seek freedom. St. Catharines was a final stop on the Underground Railroad. Tubman lived in here during the 1850s and many of the people she led to freedom stayed in St. Catharines and helped to shape our community.
Enjoy this self-guided tour to some of the significant Black History sites in St. Catharines:
Salem Chapel BME Church
📍 92 Geneva St.
Built in 1855 in the heart of ‘Coloured Town’ the BME Church was a significant part of abolition in Canada and remains an important part of our community today. Harriet Tubman lived near the Salem Chapel and is the most famous member of its congregation. Salem Chapel is a national historic site and is regarded by many to be the oldest Black church in Ontario.
Victoria Lawn Cemetery
📍 431 Queenston St.
The Reverend Anthony Burns plaque is located at the Queenston Street entrance to Victoria Lawn Cemetery, where his grave is located. Born into slavery in Virginia in 1834, Rev. Anthony Burns escaped to Boston in his 20s only to arrested and returned to his owner. Eventually freed by a Baptist church in Boston, Burns attended college, became a minister and settled in St. Catharines in 1860 where he was pastor of Zion Baptist Church until his death.