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.