Preservation of an Early Fugitive Slave Chapel that was part of the Underground Railway

London, Ontario’s 166-year-old fugitive slave chapel has made its way home, in much the same way the first black families found refuge prior to the end of the U.S. Civil War: With perseverance amid tribulation, and hope for a greater glory.

The chapel was moved from Thames St. to a lot beside its daughter church, Beth Emanuel British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church on Grey St, a slow-crawling 140 minutes through London’s downtown traffic.

The Slave Chapel was built in 1848 on Thames St., and became home to the African Methodist Episcopal congregation. It soon became London’s centre for fugitive slaves from the U.S.

You can read more about the Slave Chapel’s history and its recent move through the city in an article by Debora Van Brenk in The London Free Press at A video of the move is also available at the same web address.

My thanks to newsletter reader Dennis Mulligan for telling me about this story.


My 3x great aunt, Jane Thornton was born in Ontario of Irish parents . In 1872 she married James Worthington an African American barber in London, Ontario. They raised their family and lived near the BME church on Grey street. I am pleased that London is preserving this rich history.


Thank you so very much for letting folks know about this important project; we’ve been working on it for over 2 years with so many kind people coming forward to help; this past Wed. was a great day of celebration when our little chapel was finally moved to its new home. Now, the exciting restoration task begins. If anyone would like to follow our progress or get on our mailing list, you can check out our website at:

Thank you so much for sending this in, Mr. Mulligan, and to you Mr. Eastman for printing it.
Kate O’Neil


Kate made me aware of this project, my hat is off to all those who made this dream possible. It speaks to God’s providence and the power of the human spirit.


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