Richard Pierpoint plaque

My Trip +

Richard Pierpoint plaque in Centennial Park, erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1985. [Photo: David T. Brown]




The Richard Pierpoint plaque is a landmark along the Laura Secord Legacy Trail. Pierpoint was an important figure in the War of 1812, instrumental in the creation of the 'Colored Corps', a regiment that played a major role in battles like the Battle of Queenston Heights.(Clip 37B).

In the northeastern section of Centennial Gardens, near the interesection of Oakdale and Eastchester Avenues is a plaque erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation and the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture. It commemorates the life and deeds of another hero of the War of 1812, former slave, soldier in Butler's Rangers and the Color Corps Richard Pierpoint.

It reads:

RICHARD PIERPOINT c.1744 – c.1838

One of the first Black settlers in this region, Pierpoint was born in Senegal.

At the age of 16 he was imprisoned and shipped to America where he became

the slave of a British officer. During the American Revolution he enlisted in

the British forces, thereby gaining his freedom, and served with Butler's

Rangers. Disbanded at Niagara, “Captain Dick" settled in here. At the

outbreak of the War of 1812 he joined the Colored Corps and in 1821,

recalling his militia service, he petitioned the government for passage home

to Africa. Although his request was denied, the aged Pierpoint was granted

land in present-day Fergus. Remarkably he fulfilled the required settlement

duties when over 80 and then apparently returned to this area.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation
Ministry of Citizenship and Culture

From Toronto:
1. Take the Queen Elizabeth Way, following signs for Niagara/East Hamilton/Fort Erie
2. Drive 51.5 km then take the exit onto ON-406 S toward Thorold/Welland/Port Colborne
3. After 6/1 km take the Regional Road 91 E/Westchester Avenue exit
4. Make a slight left onto Westchester Ave/Westchester Crescent/Regional Rd 91
5. Continue to follow Westchester Crescent/Regional Rd 91
6. Turn left onto Oakdale Ave

Destination will be on the left, located near the northeast parking lot in Centennial Park.

From Niagara:

1. Head north on Queen Elizabeth Way toward Toronto
2. Take the exit toward Regional Road 48/Niagara Street/Regional Road 77/Welland Avenue
3. Merge onto Dieppe Rd
4. After 450 m make a slight left onto Welland Ave/Regional Rd 77
5. Turn left onto Vine St S
6. Turn right onto Queenston St
7. Take the 1st left onto Oakdale Ave

Destination will be on the right, located near the northaest parking lot in Centennial Gardens on the Merritt Trail.

See Google Street View

Richard 'Captain Dick' Pierpont was a black Loyalist settler and former slave who fought with the British against the American Continental Army in the early 1780s. He was one of the original settlers of the St. Catharines area. He was also known by the names 'Captain Dick' and 'Black Dick'.

Born in 1744 in Bundu, West Africa, now part of Senegal, Pierpoint was captured during African tribal wars at age 16 and forced into slavery. He served as a manservant for a British officer during the American War of Independence, and was imprisoned in Pennsylvania. He gained his freedom and came to Niagara in 1780 as a soldier with Butler's Rangers, and after his discharge he received 80 hectares of farmland in the area between Geneva Street and Oakdale Avenue, near the former site of the St. Catharines General Hospital.

The stream that flowed through Pierpoint's farm and into Twelve Mile Creek became known as 'Dick's Creek'. Richard Pierpont sold his farm in 1806.

In 1812, he petitioned Major General Isaac Brock to create a militia corps from black settlers in the Niagara Peninsula. His request was initially denied however when, in July, Brock was desperate for troops he formally assigned Captain Rober Runchey, a tavern owner in Lincoln and former British officer to form the corps that Pierpoint had suggested. Richard Pierpoint joined the corps which became the country's first all-Black infantry corps,known as the 'Coloured Corps'.

This unit fought in many major battles of the War of 1812, including the Battle of Queenston Heights. The Coloured Corps later worked on military construction, helping to build Fort Mississauga in present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake. Disbanded in early 1815, the Coloured Corps was a prominent example of black service in defence of early Canada.

Pierpont later moved to Garafraxa Township on the Grand River near Fergus, Ontario, where he died at age 93.

Centennial Gardens, near Oakdale and Eastchester Avenue's intersection
L2R 3K8 Municipality St. Catharines

Latitude: 43.160849
Longitude: -79.22968