Monday, August 22, 2016

The Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church

Township of Oro-Medonte

The Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church, built between 1846 and 1849, is a designated National Historic Site. It is one of the last buildings erected by a community of African Canadians whose roots were uniquely anchored in the history of United Empire Loyalists and represents the important role that Black militiamen played in the defense of Upper Canada during the War of 1812, it also represents the early Upper Canada land policy.

The Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of, if not, the oldest African log church still standing in North America. This Church stands as a testament to both the Black Settlers who carefully crafted and cared for it for nearly 75 years and passionate community volunteers who have worked diligently to preserve it since its abandonment in the 1920's.

 In 1812 the Black regiment, “Captain Runchey’s Coloured Corps.” is formed to fight the Americans in the War of 1812. In recognition of their services during the War of 1812, the government granted Black veterans crown land and lots in Oro Township, Simcoe County in 1819.

 During the period 1821-1838 between 20 and 30 families of Blacks acquired land in the area and in 1847 land was purchased for a cemetery and church from Noah Morris, a Black settler, who owned the corner of Conc. 3 and side road 10/11.

In 1849 the church was opened for services. The Black community reached its apex in the 1840’s and then gradually declined. 2002 it was granted National Historic Site designation by Parks Canada and a dedication service was held in 2003.

The current restoration was financed by both Federal and Provincial government, the Township of Oro Medente, Trillium Foundation and numerous private donors. Grand opening celebration was held on Friday 19, 2016.

Carlos Ferguson Photography

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