Salem Chapel, BME Church – 92 Geneva Street, St. Catharines

Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site of Canada is a gable-fronted church set on a high foundation. Located at 92 Geneva Street, in St. Catharines, Ontario, this stucco-clad building is distinguished by its regularly arranged pointed-arch windows, modest scale and overall simplicity. Official recognition refers to the church on its footprint at the time of designation.

Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1999 because:

  • it is typical of the auditory-hall design of underground railroad (UGRR)-related churches;
  • through its association with famed UGRR conductor Harriet Tubman, it was an important locus of abolitionist activity in Canada.

Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church was an important centre of 19th-century abolitionist and civil rights activity in Canada. Built circa 1855, it replaced a smaller log church in order to accommodate St. Catherines’ growing community of refugees arriving via the underground railroad. Among them was Harriet Tubman, the famous UGRR conductor, who lived near Salem from 1852-1857 and personally led many refugees from the southern United States to safety in Canada. The heritage value of this church resides in its exceptional associations with the anti-slavery movement and the early UGRR black community to which it bears witness as illustrated by the church with its auditory-hall form, typical of early African Canadian churches.