Fountain Chapel Beginnings

Rev. Ulysses S. Robinson was the first Pastor of the newly formed African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Vancouver. He crossed into Canada on October 17, 1921 so we can assume that the first official AME services started shortly thereafter. Rev. Robinson was born in 1888 in Chappell Hill, Texas and had been working in Denver, Colorado prior to arriving in Canada. He was married and 33 years old when he arrived.  City directories confirm that the occupant of the building at 823 Jackson Avenue changed from the Norwegian Lutheran Church in 1921 to the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1922. The city directory for 1924 was the first time that the name “Fountain Chapel” appeared in the listing.

Leading up to the arrival of Rev. Robinson, many members of the black community in Vancouver had been working hard to purchase the building from the Norwegian Lutheran Church. Nora Hendrix (pictured with her husband Ross Hendrix) was instrumental in this process and she explains the establishment of the church in an interview from 1977 (Opening Doors, Marlatt and Itter, 1979). The building was available for $1000 and the AME head office agreed to put up $500 if the new local congregation would raise the other $500. As Ms. Hendrix explains this was a challenging task since typical wages were $1.50 per day and it took a while but they were eventually able to purchase the building.  As there was no Canadian branch of the AME, the Fountain Chapel was subject to the oversight of an AME Presiding Elder from Seattle.

Nora Hendrix was born in 1883 in Knoxville, Tennessee and moved to Vancouver in 1911 from Seattle. Nora and Ross Hendrix were originally brought to Vancouver because Ross had a job there and they stayed and raised a family and spent the rest of their lives in Vancouver. Ross Hendrix died in 1934 and Nora Hendrix died in 1984.