Township of Oro-Medonte - Ontario Heritage Trust

Township of Oro-Medonte, Oro-Medonte

The Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oro-Medonte, Ontario is a National Historical Site and a monumental depiction of freedom and equality in North America. It stands in honour of the Black militiamen that served to defend Upper Canada during the War of 1812.

Research suggests that the church may have existed prior 1849. Owned and maintained by the existing black community for nearly 100 years, the Township took ownership of the church in 1948. In 2003, the Oro African Church was designated a National Historical Site by Parks Canada. In 2014, the church was at risk of collapsing due to structural concerns. For public safety, the Township had no choice but to close it.

Initial costs to complete minimal structural work on the church estimated at $140,000. With a significant funding shortfall to deal with, the Township of Oro-Medonte launched a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to build awareness to the historical and cultural significance of the church and raise the money needed to save it. In a few short months, the campaign and the story of the church garnered national attention. Donations poured in to help the Township save the church. The Township raised over $92,000 through crowdfunding and received funding from the Provincial and Federal governments totaling $171,850 to contribute to the Township’s efforts in preserving the church. In August 2016, the Oro African Church re-opened its doors to the public.

The preservation project was much more than the restoration of a 1840s church, it was about connecting cultures and telling an often forgotten and overlooked part of our Canadian Heritage. As a way to preserve the church’s rich history and cultural significance, the Township and County of Simcoe Museum have partnered to offer tours of the Oro African Church during the summer and fall of 2017. A future for this National treasure has been paved to keep its history and story alive for generations to come. Thank you for helping us share our story!