masthead image

Wilberforce Street


Town site photo

The African Episcopal Methodist Church

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Wilberforce Street, located in Simcoe County, was a colonization settlement started by the British in the 1820s. Its main purpose was to fulfill the British goal of establishing a black settlement in British North America.

The first settlers were primarily soldiers who had fought for the British during the war of 1812. Many of those who followed afterwards are believed to be former slaves who arrived via the Underground Railway.

Overall the settlers were not successful as farmers. Lack of background and training in farming practises is one likely reason. By the late 1880s, many began to slip away to other areas where they could earn good wages in lumbering or with the railways.

Today the site is marked by a number of historical plaques. One building still stands - the African Episcopal Methodist Church. The church, built in 1849, has been restored and is now designated as a National Historic Site.