St. Catharines park now officially named after Richard Pierpoint

Published June 13, 2022 at 1:50 pm

City officials and community members all gathered as the official signage and plaquing of Richard Pierpoint Park was unveiled Saturday.

It took some initiative from St. Catharines councillor Lori Littleton, who got the ball rolling, but the area formerly known as Centennial Park is now officially named Richard Pierpoint Park.

City staff and officials gathered alongside community stakeholders on June 11 to unveil new interpretive signage and officially celebrate the renaming.

Originally constructed during Canada’s Centennial and named Centennial Gardens, the park was renamed in 2021 to Richard Pierpoint Park after a public consultation process. Pierpoint was a former black slave who fought as a British loyalist during the American Revolutionary War, and in return was granted 200 acres of land, a portion of which is occupied by the park today.

During the War of 1812, at the age of 68 years old, Pierpoint fought for the British and was instrumental in the creation of the first all-black military unit. He is remembered as one of the early leaders of Canada’s black community.

“It’s fitting that we recognize Pierpoint with the renaming of the park, not only did he once own this land, but he was an instrumental figure in our country’s early history, especially as a leader of the black community,” said Phil Cristi, Director of Community, Recreation and Culture Services.

“It’s critical as a community we honour his accomplishments and importance in our shared history.”

Mayor Walter Sendzik was joined by Natasha Henry of the Ontario Black History Society and Salem Chapel BME Church trustee Rochelle Bush as speakers for the event featuring an official ribbon cutting for the newly-renamed park and a performance from Alpha Rhythm Roots.

“This is a proud moment for our community – a marker that we’ve come a long way in our understanding. We’re recognizing the true history of our community by looking at the people who had an impact that were left in the shadows of ‘white-centric’ historical perspectives,” said Sendzik, thanking Littleton for initiating the renaming request.

“We still have much work to do to recognize the contributions of black, Indigenous and people of colour and their contributions to St. Catharines, but this is a great first step.”

New interpretive signage was unveiled focusing on Pierpoint’s contributions to Canadian history and the black community, in addition to the history of Centennial Gardens Park and of the Indigenous people on whose land it sits.

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