NIAGARA FALLS was an important settlement area for refugee slaves escaping into Canada along the Underground Railroad. The BME Church of Niagara Falls was an important part of the areas local Black community and it still functions today both as a church and as the Norval Johnson Heritage Library. Influential Black citizens such as Burr Plato and Oliver Pernell, contributed to the community and helped to build a safe place where escaped slaves could come and be free. Niagara Falls' profile as a crossing point on the Underground Railroad became even more important with the completion of the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge built by William Hamilton Merritt. Historically, Niagara Falls has a rich Black cultural past which has lent its bravery and courageous spirit to the overall character of the Niagara Region.