Parks Canada



Parks Canada

February 19, 2013 09:00 ET

Harper Government Designates First Baptist Church in Amherstburg as National Historic Site

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2013) - On behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jeff Watson, Member of Parliament for Essex, today recognized the national historic significance of the First Baptist Church in Amherstburg, Ontario, for its important role as a principal Underground Railroad-related church.

"The Amherstburg First Baptist Church is a most worthy addition to the Canadian places of national historic significance," said Mr. Watson. "The church and its leaders played an instrumental role in supporting the Black community in Eastern Canada, with its commitment to providing opportunities for its members and involvement in the Underground Railroad."

The Amherstburg First Baptist Church played a crucial role in the development of Black communities and identity in eastern Canada, chiefly in its role as the Mother Church of the Amherstburg Regular Missionary Baptist Association (ARMBA). Established with the help of the leaders of the First Baptist Church in 1841, the ARMBA was one of the most important Black organizations in the region. It enabled people of African descent to pursue their ambitions, develop their talents, and assume positions of leadership at a time when they were frequently denied these prospects elsewhere.

"The Amherstburg First Baptist Church played a crucial role in the development of a distinctive Black Baptist Church tradition in Canada," said Minister Kent. "Today's national historic designation helps remind Canadians of the key role faith organizations have played in the development of our cultural communities."

The new designation will be included in Canada's system of national historic sites, persons and events, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada was established in 1919 and is supported by Parks Canada. It advises the Minister of the Environment regarding the national significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history. On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada manages a nationwide network that makes up a rich tapestry of Canada's historical heritage and offers the public opportunities for real and inspiring discoveries.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.

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