The Fugitive Slave Chapel of London,
As it appears today
From London Advertiser, May 8, 1926
Saving London’s Historical Landmark
Built in 1848, the Fugitive Slave Chapel served as a place of worship from 1848 – 1869
In 1926 London’s Fugitive Slave Chapel was rediscovered. Since the British Methodist Episcopal
Church Sold it in 1869 it had been used as a residence. The Congregation moved to new facilities on
Grey Street at that time.
May 8, 1926 the London Advertiser printed a lengthy article that stated that the old church was
thought to have been torn down but had recently been rediscovered and was being used as a residence.
They traced land records, that are still available today, to prove that this building was the old Chapel.
A plaque was installed August 11,
1986. Above shows the unveiling
(These pictures of
the 1986 Plaque
copyrighted by London
Free Press Collection of
University of Western
Ontario Archives, Aug.
11, 1986. Thanks go to
Barry Arnott & Theresa
Regnier of the Western
Archives. Used with
permission, do not
David Jenkins shows us the
revealed plaque during the
1986 unveiling ceremony.
This Plaque disappeared
from the Fugitive Slave
Chapel in 2001. Attempts are
still being made to recover it.
Connection With History
The Fugitive Slave Chapel ties in with the History of the Underground Railroad. This was a series of
safe houses and conductors that would aid the fugitives by giving them food and rest on the long
perilous journey from slavery in the South to freedom in Canada. Many would travel at night by foot
until they reached the next “terminal” on the Underground Railroad, where they could eat and rest
before they spent another night avoiding slave catchers, escaping blood hounds and facing whatever
weather conditions prevailed and whatever wild animals lurked. They had to avoid public roads and
often only had the stars to guide them northward.
London was one of many destinies for the
Underground Railroad. Slave catchers would come
across the border in grab fugitive to take back to
slavery, but London, being more distant from borders
and lakes was regarded as a safer place away from this
Abolitionist John Brown is
rumored to have been in the Chapel
on Thames Street. The reporter
who wrote 1926 London Advertiser
article claims to have interviewed
people who remember the meeting.
Only those with a password were
admitted and the object of the
meeting was to recruit soldiers to
be trained and join other trained soldiers to fight for the
freedom of the slaves in the USA.
How Can You Help?
It will take the efforts of many to save the Fugitive Slave Chapel. Plans are in the works to bring the
chapel home. 144 years ago the congregation moved to Grey Street. In 2013 their original building will
follow them. Beth Emanuel BME Church owns a vacant lot next door to the present chapel. The old
chapel will be moved there to again be used as a place of worship, a museum and a community center.
Already a huge army of angels has arisen to take on this task, but there is room for more. Funds are
needed to expedite the move, assist in renovations, and pay for ongoing operating expenses. You can
read more and donate on line at www.fscpp.ca. You can also send a cheque made out to the “Fugitive
Slave Chapel Preservation Project” to Beth Emanuel Church, 430 Grey Street, London, Ontario, N6B
1H3. There will also be opportunities to donate at fundraising and other community events. Look for us
at farmers markets and various events in London, Ontario.
Besides giving financially, volunteers can give a gift of time. There is a volunteer form on the web
site or you can let any committee member know that you want to help out.
Invite us to speak to your group. We have many competent speakers that can speak on various
aspects of the Fugitive Slave Chapel.
Pray for us. This may be the most important activity as we have already seen evidence of Divine
intervention and we feel that this project is in God’s Hands.
The Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project
Watch for a book about the Fugitive Slave Chapel to be released soon.
c/o Beth Emanuel Church
430 Grey St.
On line at www.fscpp.ca.
The Fugitive Slave Chapel of
It’s History, Significance and Future Use.