With three new posts, I’ve finished writing up all of the “lost Anglican churches” in the City of Toronto. So this is a wrap for this project, after almost four years. (I will update the blog as needed. For example, four parishes in the west end have recently amalgamated and there will be a couple of new posts in due course.)

Looking back, here is how I described the project when it started in February 2012:

On a different level, there are four things which coalesced to bring this project into focus. First, the church in which I was baptized, St. Jude’s on Roncesvalles. My grandfather, Fr. Warren Turner, was the rector of St. Jude’s, which closed in 1977. For many years it was used by other denominations. For awhile it sat derelict, and at one point many years ago I contacted the real estate agent who had it for sale and got a tour. For awhile the parish hall was used as a rehearsal studio for Mirvish Productions and, at another time, as a food market. A few years ago it was demolished. Second, a couple of years ago I received for Christmas a book published in 1985 about Spadina Avenue, not far from where we live, and in it I discovered that there used to be two Anglican churches on Spadina (St. Margaret’s and St. Philip’s) and that one of the buildings (St. Margaret’s) still exists as a retail centre. Third, in my last parish (St. Thomas’, Brooklin) we built a new church and incorporated furnishings from the former St. Clement’s, Riverdale.(In similar fashion, furnishings from St. Judes’, including the font in which I was baptized, found a new home at St. Judes’, Bramalea.) Finally, the parish I now serve (St. Mary Magdalene’s) itself was carved out of our mother parish, St. Matthias’, Bellwoods. In fact, this was what was happening in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s in Toronto: an explosion of church planting. SMM survives, but another carved out of St. Matthias’ (St. Barnabas on Halton Street) closed in the early 1970.
The blog has attracted over 30,000 views and over 10,000 visitors. It has been fascinating to hear from readers and the connections that the information presented has made. I hope that it has made a modest contribution to understanding the history of the Diocese of Toronto and, from a certain perspective, the history of the City of Toronto.
Some expressions of thanks are in order. To those who have read and offered comments, additional information and encouragement. (Two people in particular — Chris Ambidge and Dave Robinson — have been faithful and helpful readers, providing additional information and photographs.) To Mary-Anne Nicholls, the archivist for the Diocese of Toronto and her staff, who patiently put up with my presence in the reading room and were very helpful in making this project happen. To Patrick Cain, who created a much more attractive Google map with links with the blog posts. To Archbishop Colin Johnson and Elizabeth Hardy, the diocesan CAO, who have invited me on several occasions to present one of the “lost churches” to the Diocesan Council. And to my family who tolerated my research outings, sounded interested when I pointed out “that’s where St. So-and-So’s used to be”, and otherwise humoured me with encouragement and patience.

On the right hand side under “Categories” are links to the lost Anglican churches in the City of Toronto. Some have more than one entry. There are lots of photographs, and they are better seen by double-clicking on them.

Below is a google map which shows the places I’ve blogged about, as well as existing parishes in the diocese of Toronto.

Blue Place Marks indicate former parishes where the building exists.

Red Place Marks indicate former parishes where the building is gone.

Green Place Marks indicate existing parishes.

My thanks to Patrick Cain for providing a new format with links to the blog posts!

In 1950, six residents of the village of Weston began to discuss forming a new Sunday School, as an outgrowth of the parish of St. John’s, Weston. The next year a slightly larger group met with Bishop Wilkinson, who recommended a door-to-door canvass. The canvass identified 62 families, many who were attending St. John’s or the other nearby Anglican parish, St. Philip’s. Eventually the group grew to 265 families and a mission a parish was established under the Reverend John Roe from St. John’s, Weston. Weekly services were held in schools and basements.

In 1957, Canon T. Barnett was appointed the priest-in-charge of the mission. A rectory was purchased, and temporary chapel and office space constructed in the rectory basement. (In 1957, the Christmas Eve service was held in the rectory chapel; the Christmas Day service was held at a nearby United Church.)

In 1958 St. Timothy’s became a separate parish, and sod was turned for a new building at the corner of Weston Road and Flindon Road (just north of the 401). The new building was opened in 1959 and dedicated on November 2nd by Bishop Wilkinson. (A used set of pews from St. Agnes, Long Branch was procured for the new building.) In 1964 a narthex was added. (I have, courtesy of Fr Theo Ipema, the last priest-in-charge of St. Timothy’s, some extraordinary film of the ground-breaking and construction of the building and hope to figure out a way to post it here.)





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The story of St. Timothy’s is typical of many suburban parishes established after the second world war — demographic shifts resulting in decline. In 1971, “a  survey of home purchases and re-sales in teh parish area indicated that 85% of the new families were from ethnic groups, and that original Anglican families were being replaced by non-Anglicans.” In the mid-1970s a Presbyterian congregation began to use the space. During various period in the 1980s and 1990s it shared ministry with nearby Anglican parishes, and during the period 1996-1998, St. TImothy’s was led by a team of theological students from Trinity College. Despite these efforts, the reality of declining attendance and membership led to the disestablishment of the parish in 2010.

Today, the former St. Timothy’s is the home of the Apostolic Christian Church.

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This post picks up the story of St. Philip’s, Spadina, which was located on the south-west corner of what is now Spadina and Dundas.

In 1942, the congregation moved out of the building, and it was sold the following year for $23,000, along with a covenant that it would continue to be used as a church building. (See the post on St. Philip’s, Spadina for more details.) On November 2, 1975, through the kindness of  St. Elizabeth of Hungry Roman Catholic church, the congregation of the new St. Philip’s returned to their first building for a 100th anniversary evensong.

During the period 1940-42, St. Clement’s, Eglinton had begun a mission, named St. Margaret’s Mission (and sometimes also referred to in the archives as St. Andrew’s). This nascent community first met in a tent at the corner of Woodmount and Glencairn, and later in a simple, small building.



In 1943, St. Philip’s assumed occupancy of the building.


In 1946, the Reverend J.A. Robinson, who had been rector of St. Philip’s since 1920 and had overseen its move north, retired, and was succeeded by the Reverend David Clarke, who was to stay at St. Philip’s for thirty-six years and oversee its move to a new, permanent building.

After the war, land in the area was being developed and there was talk of enlarging the building. Instead, a lot was purchased on Caribou Road, just south of Lawrence and east of Bathurst. The new St. Philip’s opened in 1951 and was dedicated on March 25, 1952 by Bishop Beverley. In 1961 transepts and other meeting and office space was added.


IMG_1548I am sorry that there aren’t more photographs of the interior of St. Philip’s in the diocesan archives because it was a unique liturgical space, and very much ahead of its time. (If any readers have photos and care to send them to me, I will gladly add them!) Notably, the altar was free-standing (in a time when Anglican altars were all still against the wall), and located at the centre of what became (after the 1961 additions) a cruciform space. It was described this way: “The altar has been kept free from encumbrances in order that it may appear to be a Table set in the midst of the people and so that people all around it may see.” This arrangement very much anticipated the liturgical reforms of the 1960s and 1970s.

Another notable feature of the space was the reredos behind the altar, seen in this photograph. It was designed by noted Canadian artist Sylvia Hahn and featured autumn coloured leaves. (Note also the red maple leafs in the altar rail.) Above the altar hung a large cross of Christ, robed and crowned.


St. Philip’s came to represent a progressive and experimental approach not only in its architecture, but in its parish life as well. Religion writer Aubrey Wice, writing in the Telegraph in February 1960, noted this: “One of the most interesting things St. Philip’s is doing is their house church. This, literally, means taking the church to the people. What happens is this: Someone in the parish will invite his Anglican neighbors (sic) over for a service of holy Ccommunion. Maybe a dozen will turn up on a dark Friday morning at 6.30. Of course, the rector will be there, and if there are kiddies in the house, they’ll look in, too. The altar is the breakfast table, and after the service, everyone has a bite to eat before scurrying off to work.” In the 1970s, at a time when experiemental liturgies were being employed in the Anglican world, the parish wrote its own eucharistic liturgy (“The Caribou Liturgy”). (St. Philip’s was one of the parishes where I spent a lot of time as an itinerant organist in my late teens and twenties, and I recall quite clearly first being exposed to this rite, which was sharply different than any I had previously experienced.)

At one time, St. Philip’s had three Sunday morning services and a large congregation, but as the neighbourhood demographs changed in the 1960s (becoming a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood), St Philip’s became a smaller, “destination” parish for those attracted to is strongly progressive values and parish life.  The final service was held on May 30, 2010 and the parish was disestablished Among its legacies is a $100,000 gift to Trinity College establishing The David Clarke St. Philip’s Trust Fund for studies in urban ministry.

A new townhouse development is being completed on the site of the former St. Philip’s.





To accommodate post-war housing growth in the Lansing and Willowdale communities, a new Anglican parish was planted near Yonge Street between St. George’s, Willowdale (to the north) and St. John’s, York Mills (to the south). The Reverend D.S. Gausby was appointed to oversee the new congregation and it held its first service in Cameron Avenue School on November 13, 1949.

Planting a new congregation was decidedly uncomplicated in this time. All that was needed was to canvass the area for Anglicans and let them know where to show up for church. When the school was not available, this nascent community met at the R.S. Kane Funeral home and, for Christmas 1950 and Easter 1951, in the cafteria of the Maclean-Hunter building.


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The Church Extension Board of the diocese gave the congregation a budget of $40,000 for the new building, even though estimates exceeded that amount by almost twice. The result was a bare bones building which met budget, thanks to a lot of volunteer labour. It was dedicated on May 10, 1951.





Growth was (typically for this era) rapid, and Annunciation had three hundred families on the rolls by the mid-1950s. With the mortgage being discharged in 1957, and having achieved status as a self-sufficient parish, a decision was taken to add to the facilities. This construction, completed in 1961, included a new chancel and narthex and parish hall.




A major event in the life of the parish was fire in October 1973. It started during the night in the basement but was, fortunately, detected in time for the building to be saved.


After being restored, the building was consecrated by Bishop Lewis Garnsworthy on December 21, 1975.

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In February 2005, the Church of the Annunciation amalgamated with All Souls’, Lansing (to the east). The amalgamated parish assumed a new name, the Church of the Incarnation, and the former All Souls’ Building.  The building was deconsecrated in December 2014 and sold. It has since be demolished and construction is currently ongoing to build housing on the site.

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The early 1920s ushered in a boom in church planting in the Diocese of Toronto. Between 1920 and 1925, thirteen new congregations were formed. One of them was St. Crispins’, near the Scarborough Bluffs. A mission of the Church of the Epiphany, Anglicans originally met at a ratepayers hall on Craiglee Drive, and at a January 1922 meeting decided on the name St. Stephen’s. This name did not last long. In May, Mabel Cartwright (Diocesan President of the Women’s Auxiliary) suggested St. Crispin’s because there was no other church in the province bearing that name. Her proposal was accepted. On St. Crispin’s Day 1922 (October 25th), Bishop W.B. Reeve turned the sod. (I have not been able to discover who Bishop Reeve was.) At least at one point in the early history of St. Crispin’s (1928-1931), it was led by the rector of the Church of the Epiphany, Henry Roche.

IMG_6696In 1932, a chancel and apse from Brantford were added to the building. This was followed in 1935 by the addition of choir rooms and a Sunday School hall. In 1953, a basement was dug. Before further renovations in 1962, this was what St. Crispin’s looked like. IMG_6699In 1963, a new narthex was added, and the old frame building was surrounded with brick and mortar. (The structure had become unsound and the only alternative was to tear the building down. The sketch below showed that the plans at the time included the addition of a new liturgical space on the north, but this was never built.

IMG_6695IMG_6701St Crispins Scarborough 2 St Crispins Scarborough 1St. Crispin’s was located near to Lake Ontario, and to the original site proposed for St. George’s. This created tension and controversy in the 1950s, but was resolved when the location of St George’s moved north to St. Clair Avenue East.

In 2011, St. Crispin’s voted to amalgate with three other parishes to form a new parish. Today, the building is St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral.
IMG_8309IMG_8314“St. Crispin’s Anglican Church” is just visible.
IMG_8315This memorial plaque, and the parking sign, are visible reminders of the building’s Anglican heritage.

IMG_8321IMG_8312Furnishing from St. Crispin’s feature prominently in the new Grace Church, Scarborough, including the altar and the pews.IMG_8284IMG_8286

St. Giles’, Scarborough was a mission from St. Jude’s Church, Wexford, as a response to new subdivisions being built up in the 1950s in Scarborough (in particular, the neighbourhoods of Iondale Heights and Dorset Park). Approximately 700 Anglican families had moved into these neighbourhoods and they were in need of a more convenient location to worship. In 1956, as a temporary measure, St. Jude’s established the Iondale and Dorset Park Mission, meeting a General Crerar Public School. At first only Sunday School classes were held. Services were added in November 1956.

Shortly thereafter, a site for a new building was purchased on Kecala Drive. Beginning on Easter Day 1958, the congregation used an old dairy building located on the property. The photographs below show the congregation worshipping, including a newspaper photograph of Bishop George Snell administering the rite of confirmation. Furnishing were procured from other churches, including St. Barnabas, Chester

IMG_6680IMG_6686 IMG_6684In April 1958, a building campaign was launched. Construction began the next year, and the new St. Giles’s building was dedicated on September 22, 1959.IMG_6681IMG_6674 IMG_6676IMG_6692 IMG_6688 St Giles Scarborough 1In 2011, St. Giles’ voted to amalgamate with three other congregations to form a new parish. While the Church of the Epiphany was being renovated, the combined congregation met at St. Giles’.

The Gathering of the Community at the first service of Grace Church, Scarborough for The Amalgamated Parish of St. Crispin, Epiphany, St. George & St. Giles at 35 Kecala Road, October 2, 2011, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo/Michael Hudson

The Gathering of the Community at the first service of Grace Church, Scarborough for The Amalgamated Parish of St. Crispin, Epiphany, St. George & St. Giles at 35 Kecala Road, October 2, 2011, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo/Michael Hudson

The Recessional at the end of the first service of Grace Church, Scarborough for The Amalgamated Parish of St. Crispin, Epiphany, St. George & St. Giles at 35 Kecala Road, October 2, 2011, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo/Michael Hudson

The Recessional at the end of the first service of Grace Church, Scarborough for The Amalgamated Parish of St. Crispin, Epiphany, St. George & St. Giles at 35 Kecala Road, October 2, 2011, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo/Michael Hudson

The building is now occupied by The Truth Centre, but is subject to an application for re-development.IMG_8330IMG_8328IMG_8334IMG_8343IMG_8337IMG_8339The windows from St. Giles’ feature very prominently in the new Grace Church building.

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St George’s Scarborough was a mission from Christ Church, Scarborough on Markham Road. Beginning to meet in 1952 at Fairmount School, which is located by the Scarborough Bluffs, St. George’s was originally supposed to be known as “St. George’s-by-the-Lake”. A site was purchased behind the school, at the foot of Neilson Road, overlooking the lake.IMG_6661This being the 1950s, the congregation grew rapidly alongside the new neighbourhood called “Cliffcrest”

IMG_6665 IMG_6666Eventually it was realized that locating the new parish essentially on the waterfront would prevent it from being more centrally located to the new housing. A new site was purchased at the corner of McCowan and Cathedral Bluffs Drive, but it proved to be too busy and too costly to develop. Finally, a site was purchased on St. Clair Avenue. A portable church building was purchased for one dollar, and the first serve on the new site held on October 2, 1955. (The Sunday School continued to meet in the auditorium of Fairmount School.) IMG_6667The foundation stone was laid on June 21, 1959 and, by September 1959, the building was consecrated.IMG_6669
St Georges Scarborough 1Unfortunately there is almost now historical information about St. George’s in the archival files at the Diocese of Toronto. In 2011, it was one of our parishes which voted to amalgate to form the new Grace Church, Scarborough.

The photographs below are of the area where the original St. George’s-by-the-Lake was to have been built, and a photograph of its site in relation to Fairmount Public School.
IMG_8348IMG_8347I recently visited the site on St. Clair Avenue East, only to discover that the building had, just weeks earlier, been torn down. It is slated for redevelopment as luxurty townhomes.IMG_8323IMG_8325
IMG_8326The basement of the new Grace Church includes this window from St. George’s., and the cross, font and candles seen below.IMG_8272IMG_8276

The Church of the Epiphany, Scarborough is not exactly “lost”. Rather, it continues as Grace Church, Scarborough, the result of the amalgamation in 2011 of four Scarborough parishes (Epiphany, Scarborough, St. Giles’, St. Crispin’s and St. George’s.)

Scarborough Junction was a village formed in the nineteenth century from an amalgamation of the villages of Strangford and Mortlake. In 1905, Anglicans began to meet informally in a private home on St. Clair Avenue East, across from the Pine Hills Cemetery. In 1909, a formal mission was established, the fourth Anglican congregation in what is now Scarborough (following on St. Margaret’s, St. Jude’s and Christ Church). In 1910 a one acre building site was purchased at the south-west corner of St. Clair Avenue and Danforth Avenue. Two years later, the men of the parish were involved in erecting the first building, which was dedicated by Bisohp Sweeny on July 10, 1914. The parish took the name “Church of the Epiphany” at the suggestion of a Lay Reader from the Church of the Epiphany, Parkdale, who was assisting at the time with the new congregation at Scarborough Junction. 

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The Church of the Epiphany was to become the mother church of three other Scarborough congregations: St. Nicholas, Birch Cliff, St. Crispin’s, and St. Timothy’s, Agincourt. (From 1925 until 1931, the parish priest was Henry Roche, who features largely in the stories of the Church of the Ascension and St. Margaret’s, North Toronto on this blog. It appears he led the parish while living in Toronto, his address being listed at one point as 699 Manning Avenue, just up the street from my parish and residence.)

In May 1933, the parish hit the news when the rector, the Reverend A. W. Downer, was charged with operating an illegal lottery. The parish was raising funds for disadvantaged children by selling 25 cent tickets, which allowed participation in a dance and a chance to win a car. The newspaper headline from the time reads: Charge Scarboro Rector with Operating a Lottery: Morality Squad Seizes Tickets and Hals Church “Draw” for Car to Aid Children”. (It is not clear whether or not the charges were dropped, by the Rector (Wally Downer) went on to serve in the Ontario legislature from 1937 until 1975, serving as Speaker from 1955 to 1959.

Scarborough Junction was one of the first communities to see massive post-war housing development. By 1953, the little village church building was overflowing. (Average attendance of adults was 50 in 1952 and had grown to 240 in 1944, along with 125 children). In 1952, Fr Gregory Lee was appointed vicar and, the next year, fundraising began for a new church building.

IMG_6714 (2)A new 4.5 acre site was purchased to the north, on Kennedy Road, and ground was broken for the new Church of the Epiphany on October 31, 1954. Appropriate to the day, the groundbreaking was held at night, when 400 people, shovels in hand, began to dig. On Easter Day, 1955, the final service was held in the old church, and the congregation moved into their new home. The new building was dedicated on June 16, 1955 by Bishop Beverley, assisted by Bishop Wilkinson.
IMG_6736 (2)IMG_6732 (2)Epiphany Scarborough 1956 Vintage TorontoThose who knew Fr. Lee describe an eccentric and faithful priest who fashioned a unique combination of liturgical experiences at the new Church of the Epiphany. Former parishioners of mine told me of his intention to have a liturgy for every different Anglican sensibility. This meant a said eucharist at 8:00 am on Sundays, a high church Sung Eucharist with “bells and smells” at 9:00, and a traditional 11:00 which alternated between Morning Prayer and Holy Communion. Fr Lee also offered a daily eucharist. In 1960. Epiphany became home to a pipe organ that had been in the parish hall at St. James’ Cathedral, and had been given as a memorial to Canon and Mrs Welch.
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Epiphany, like so many urban and suburban parishes, experienced a steady decline in members. In 2011, Epiphany and three other nearby parishes voted to amalgamate into one new parish, to be named Grace Church, Scarborough.

IMG_8298The Epiphany building underwent significant renovations to accommodate the new parish. The west wall of the nave was opened up to create a new entrance way.

IMG_8300IMG_8305The former liturgical space was divided into a large narthex and a smaller liturgical space. (Here is one of the wardens, Yvonne, who was so very helpful on the day I visited to take photographs.)


Epiphany’s bell had not been rung for years because of complaints from the neighbours. It is not on this movable platform and is rung (indoors) on Sunday mornings.

IMG_8290The Christus Rex which latterly hung behind the high altar has found a new home in the space.

IMG_8285The windows behind the altar are from the original Church of the Epiphany building at Danforth and St. Clair Avenue East.

IMG_8284The baptismal font and small chapel altar are also from the original Epiphany building.IMG_8278

The words “The Church of the Epiphany” are just visible.IMG_8301

This is the corner of St. Clair Avenue East and Danforth, where the Church of the Epiphany first stood.


In the explosion of new parishes in the post-World War II era, the typical “story” involved canvassing new housing developments to “find the Anglicans”, temporary quarters while the community formed, and then (in fairly short order) the erection of a simple building. The story of St. Christopher’s, Delhi Avenue (also known as St. Christopher on the Heights) follows this pattern. The diocesan archives, fortunately, turns up some valuable photographs and materials which illustrate the story as it played out in the case of St Christopher’s (which was located just west of Avenue Road and north of Wilson, in a community known as Armour Heights.

In 1952, a group of young people from St. Cuthbert’s in Leaside were commissioned by the bishop to canvass the Wilson Heights area. Their work led to the establishment of two Sunday school groups which met in private homes. Responsibility was then taken over by the Church of the Apostles, located a short distance north and west on Sheppard Avenue. Its rector, the Reverend W. Ivan D. Smith, distributed the letter below, addressed “To All Members of the Church of England, in the Wilson Avenue, Avenue Road, Bathurst Street, and Wilson Heights Area.”  A deaconess named Evelyn Jay was commissioned to undertake a canvass of the area. The letter indicates that the diocesan Church Extension Committee had purchased a site for a building, and that it was hoped that construction could begin in the near future. In the meantime, the emphasis was on establishing Church Schools in the neighbourhood. (Click on the photograph to enlarge.)

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Shortly after, a second letter was distributed to households, inviting them to an organizational meeting to be held on Thursday February 12th, 1953 at the home of Dr. & Mrs. G.A. Harris. The encouragement to participate was strong: You will realize, I am sure, just how important it is that each family be represented at this meeting. Both men and women are asked to attend. The time has come when we must proceed with our plans as quickly as possible

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Forty-seven people attended the meeting, and approved an appeal to the bishop to form a congregation. Services then began to be held in the basement of the house where the organization meeting was held. Below is a photograph of the home as it appeared at the time and as it appears today.

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The Sunday morning service was held in the Harris’s basement, with Sunday School being held in the homes of other parishioners. This series of photographs show these early days of “house church’ gatherings. One source reports 110 people gathered in the basement, the congregation overflowing into the laundry room and other rooms in the house.

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Later, services were moved to Armour Heights School. By the end of 1953, the congregation included three hundred families. The original building site had been sold and an alternate site purchased on Delhi Avenue, where sod for the new building was turned in December. Bishop Beverley laid the cornerstone in April 1954, and the new building was opened on September 8, 1954. The architect was Harold Savage, who happened to be a member of the parish and who was responsible for the design of several other Anglican parishes in the city. (Indeed, St. Christopher’s was very much a typical 1950s building, simple and straight-forward in design, including bare cider-block walls in the worship space.) In just two years, this new community had a new parish church.

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Whereas the diocesan archives contain excellent information about the quick formation of this new community, there is a paucity of information about the parish after it was established. One interesting piece of information relates to the origin of the church bell. A parishioner named Archie Chisholm, who worked for the CPR, suggested the parish ask the rail company for a bell discarded from a steam locomotive. One was provided — taken from a Royal Hudson type steam locomotive that had been used on George VI’s royal train when he toured Canada in the early 1950s.

In 1989, the parish celebrated its 25th anniversary.

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Two year later, St. Christopher’s building was given over to a Chinese-speaking congregation being formed out of St. John’s Church. In 2009, this congregation purchased the former St. Gabriel’s in Richmond Hill. The name moved with the congregation to Richmond Hill and the building (which now sits literally in the shadow of Highway 401) was sold. It has recently become a Buddhist temple.


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I’m very grateful to Chris Ambidge, who has been an enthusiastic reader of this blog, for his interest and for his leads.

Two tidbits that he’s recently passed along.

This 1946 photo of St. John the Evanglist, Portland Street (the Garrison Church). I have it already in my blog, but it is a photograph of a photograph included in the historical display in the park where the church was located. This is a much clearer version and, as Chris points out, the signs in the background are mostly readable.

Garrison picture

Chris also pointed me to existence of St. Luke Lane, located near Bay & Wellesley, where St. Luke’s Bay Street sat. The lineway name is the only lasting pointer to the existence of St. Luke’s, which was located at Bay & St. Joseph Streets until 1930.


I’m always grateful for leads like this. Thanks, Chris!

In 1911, 40,000 people lived east of the Don River; by 1923 the number was 160,000. The completion of the Prince Edward Viaduct in 1918 opened up the east end of the city, and presented new opportunities to serve the Anglican population moving into newly-created neighbourhoods.

The Reverend N.A.F. Bourne, the rector of Penetanguishine, was appointed to undertake the task of founding a new parish.  The need for a new parish, located between St. David’s (on Donlands Avenue) and the Church of the Resurrection (on Woodbine Avenue) was not in dispute; the location was. In his recollection of the time, Mr. Bourne recalls: “In November 1922, at the request of Bishop Sweeny I came out here and went up and down, and back and forth; and noted the progress and the possibilities. I reported to him this — “the people are there; the church ought to be there.” He knew this because he had gone door to door, finding (at first) just two Anglican families. The first meeting of what would become the Church of the Nativity included twenty-seven children and their parents.

Mr. Bourne and the bishop had different ideas of where the new parish should be located. It seems that the bishop wanted it to be south of Danforth Avenue, whereas the site that Bourne chose was north. “In order to satisfy the Bishop that no other site was available, I brought the Bishop out one evening…When we reached Greenwood Avenue, I asked the Bishop to look to his right (i.e. south) and see whether he could see any vacant lot. When we reached Rhodes Avenue the Bishop said: “this is where I thought the building should be.” The map in his office showed a vacant lot there. But maps get out of date rapidly in growing districts. Then, we continued onto Woodbine Avenue. Finally he was driven to Monarch Park Avenue, and saw for himself that there was no other lot available. It was by God’s guidance that the church had reserved this site. There was nothing else for the Bishop to do, but to sanction this lot.”

For five months, the new community worshipped in a tent “at a folding table from folding benches on a plank floor, and under a canvas roof” (according to a 1944 newspaper article) The first building erected was a parish hall, on the north-east corner of Monarch Park Avenue and Glebeholme Avenue. Within six weeks the new brick structure was completed, and the first service was held on October 7, 1923 for more than one hundred parishioners. The oak furnishings had already served St. Margaret’s and St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The organ came from St. Barnabas, Danforth (which had just purchased a pipe organ).



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By 1927, the parish had grown to four hundred families, with an average of 314 pupils in the Sunday School. While the parish grew, however, the building did not, and it proved to be far too small to meet the needs of the community. In 1944, for example, the sanctuary was curtained off during the week because the nave was filled with activities, principally meetings of Cubs and Boy Scouts.

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The photographs below show the crowded conditions in the basement for the Sunday School.

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In 1956, sod was turned for an addition on the east end which includes a chancel, kitchen and choir rooms. This addition was dedicated on January 27, 1957.

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A  decade or so later, the changing parish demographics meant the future of the parish was in question. Its rector, the Reverend Owen Barrow, wrote about its situation in The Anglican (December 1969):  “Today the Church of the Nativity is debt free but has yet to be consecrated. Today it serves a rapidly decreasing English-speaking constituency and faces an uncertain future. “Amalgamation” is a word that grieves sentiment…The threat is here and real. The Anglo-Saxon population is moving out; the Italian is moving in. We are not replacing one parishioner — though we are left with scores who never came and don’t intend to come. The devoted men and women who for years found significance and purpose in providing for the housekeeping expenses and for meeting the demands of “those people down at the Synod office” are with us — though twenty, thirty years older than they were and a sadly depleted company. The envisioned future holds no specific promise of so-called improvement.”

Efforts were made to reverse the trend. An example was a family service held on the second Sunday of the month. The liturgy lasted less than forty minutes and was limited to three or four prayers, four hymns, and an illustrated talk. A free men’s buffet supper was offered, and joint events were held with St. Luke’s, Westwood and the Church of the Comforter. As well, a committee of churchwardens from these three parishes was struck to consider the future.

In the end, the parish vestry decided in June 1976 to disestablish the parish.

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The name and memorials were moved to the new Church of the Nativity in Malvern, and the building was sold to the Holy Trinity Macedo-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church. The photographs below show the site today. Holy Trinity’s website shows some photographs of the interior as it looks today.



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I’m very grateful to Carolyn Goddard, who lives in Alberta, for sending me two photographs of St. Edmund the Martyr, which was located on the south-east corner of Davenport and Dovercourt.

Carolyn’s great grandparents owned a store across the street on the south-west corner of Davenport and Dovercourt (1234 Dovercourt).

St Edmund New 3This photograph shows the church being raised and a new foundation and basement being added. It would have been taken circa 1917.

St Edmund New 1This photograph would have been taken later, after the addition of a new entranceway, but before the exterior was bricked over in the late 1940s.

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St. Elizabeth, Queensway is a post-war parish but its roots extend back to 1917 when Miss Maud Marian Steel, a member of Christ Church, Mimico) established a Sunday School which met at Queensway Public School. In 1922, the Sunday School moved to the Queensway Community Hall, and the “St. Elizabeth’s Mission” was established (Elizabeth being Maud’s mother’s name.) The first ervice was held on March 5, 1922.

Between 1922 and 1935, services continued to be held in the Queensway Community Hall, often led by students. (These included George Luxton, later Bishop of Huron, and (in November 1929) George Snell, later Bishop of Toronto.

In 1935, owing to lack of community interest, the St. Elizabeth Mission disbanded. A decade later it was revived as the market gardens that populated the area began to give way to post-war housing. Owing to the lack of gasoline and tires, local Anglicans found the drive to Christ Church, Mimico too far, and services were, once again, held at the Queensway Community Hall. A vote was held as to which denomination the gathering should be affiliated with the. The results confirmed the group`s Anglican association (Church of England: 39; United Church: 17; Gospel Mission: 7: Presbyterian: 1; Latter Day Saints: 1.) Again, students lead the service, with the rector of Christ Church, Mimico, the Reverend T. J. Dew, coming once a month for Holy Communion.



In 1946 St. Clair Hilchey (who was to go on to an illustrious ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada) took charge of St. Elizabeth`s and nearby Church of the Atonement. In 1950 sod was turned at 964 The Queensway, just east of islington.


The basement of the new building was dedicated on March 18, 1951 by Bishop Alton Ray Beverley, George Snell (not yet a bishop) being the preacher.


Given parish status in 1954, the building was completed in 1956 and dedicated on May 7th by Bishop Frederick Wilkinson, the preacher once again being George Snell. Geoffrey Parke-Taylor (later Suffragan Bishop of Toronto) was the rector from to 1959.






This picture of the St. Elizabeth`s choir appeared in the Toronto Telegram in 1961.


By the early 1990s, the congregation of St. Elizabeth`s was no longer able to keep the ministry of the parish and its building going. The decision was taken to transfer the building to a Chinese-speaking Anglican congregation, and thus a new St. Elizabeth`s was born. The last English-speaking service was held on December 27, 1992, with Bishop Parke-Taylor present to hand over the keys to the new St. Elizabeth`s congregation.


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In December 1999 a fire partially destroyed the buildling. St. Elizabeth`s relocated to Mississauga, and the building was demolished.


Today, 964 The Queensway is the site of a commerical and housing development.

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Church growth in the post-World War II period was neither haphazard nor ecumenically uninformed. Rather, careful planning went into the location of parishes to serve new neighbourhoods. “Many hours of careful planning were needed in order to avoid, on one hand, damaging an established congregation or the social ministry of another denomination, and on the other hand, over-supplying the area with new churches. In short order the principle was developed of siting parish churches no closer than 1.5 miles from each other, to serve a church population of around 2,000. A tacit agreement in practical ecumenism was reached so that new churches of other denominations were also set at least a half-mile away, depending on the availability of land.”  (The Diocese of Toronto since 1939: A Chronological Overview. )

St. Wilfrid’s, Etobicoke and its neighbouring parish to the north, St. Richard of Chichester, demonstrate this intention, begin situated 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometres) apart, and being established within three years of each other. (And, we will see, their histories almost came together some forty years later.)

St Wilfrid’s first service was held in a portable on Kipling Avenue, south of the Kingway, in September 1955. (Photograph from online Toronto Public Library collection.)

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The Church School quickly expanded beyond the capacity of the portable and began to meet at nearby St. George’s School.

A permanent building was dedicated on October 16, 1958 by Bishop Frederick Wilkinson. Situated on a two acre lot which backed onto a forest, the architectural design of the new building was striking and not the “norm” of post-World War II church buildings.

IMG_5472The plans called for a Christian education wing to the north, and a chapel and bell tower to the south. When the building was dedicated, optimism abounded: “With such expansion in so brief a period we should look forward, even at this time, to the day when we will need the additional facilities for which plans were laid at the outset.”.

IMG_5454The Christian education addition was built, but the tower and chapel never were.


In the 1970s an adjoining rectory was added. (As St. Wilfrid’s was my ‘parish’ church (in the geographical sense) and my father was the organist at St. Luke’s United to the north, I recall watching the rectory be built.)


No sooner had St. Wilfrid’s and the other “1950s” parishes been built than Anglican attendance in Canada began to fall. St. Wilfrid’s attendance peaked in the period 1961-1963 (an average of 394  weekly). As it happens, 1961 was the very year that the percentage of the Canadian population identified as Anglican peaked. By 1970, average weekly attendance was 192; by 1980 it was 115.

In the mid-1990s, St. Richard’s (to the north) approached St. Wilfrid’s to engage in a discussion of the possibility of amalgamation. The vision was of one facility (St Wilfrid’s) with two clergy and a deacon. In the end, while the vestry of St. Wilfrid’s approved the proposal, St. Richard’s vestry did not. Latterly, there were discussions involving St. Philip’s, Weston Road, and St. Matthias (on Royal York) but, again, no plan came to fruition.

The last service of the parish of St. Wilfrid’s was held on April 11, 2010. The building is now occupied by the Church of South India, a parish which is part of the Anglican Communion and associated with the Diocese of Toronto.


The post-war period between 1945 and 1966 witnessed an explosion of Anglican church growth in the City of Toronto with twenty-eight parishes being founded in that time period (averaging one every ten months!). This blog has told the stories of many parishes in the downtown or near-downtown which experienced profound demographic changes as their parishioners moved east, west and north into new suburban areas. The flip-side of this movement was the many parishes founded in new suburbs.

One of these twenty-eight parishes was St. Richard of Chichester, located in Etobicoke on The Westway between Kipling and Islington.

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In many ways, St. Richard’s is a ‘typical’ story of suburban church growth in this period. The life of the parish began in July 22, 1958 when thirty-seven people met in a small portable to conduct a vestry meeting requesting the Bishop of Toronto to establish a new parish. The congregation met in a portable until 1960

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In 1960, construction on a permanent building was completed.


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The parish’s first priest, the Reverend Fred Hall, served both St. Richard’s and the Anglican Church in Malton. He described the early missionary work of the parish in this way: “When we started, this was a very small Westway Village. We had high-calibre entertainment, musical plays. I went around slogging through muddy new subdivisions inviting people out.”  At one point the Sunday School numbered one hundred. It is same to assume that this pattern was played out throughout the City in these years, as the suburbs were built and populated and parishes were founded and grew. Fr Hall also recalled that church attendance began to drop as early as 1959. When the Diefenbaker government cancelled the Avro aircraft, British employees who had come to Canada to work on the project (and who lived in the neighbourhood) returned home.

By 1965 the parish was self-supporting and on May 25, 1980 the mortgage had been discharged and the building consecrated by Archbishop Lewis Garnsworthy. A new Keates pipe organ was dedicated at the same time.

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During the incumbency of Fr James McCue (1983-1991), the sanctuary was renovated with a new altar and furnishings. (I had the pleasure of playing the organ on the evening these renovations were dedicated.)

IMG_4275 (1024x711)IMG_4278 (1024x693)Changing demographics and a preponderance of Anglican churches nearby meant, for St. Richard’s, a gradual decline in parishioners and attendance. At one point the parish asked the parish of St. Wilfrid’s to the south to contemplate amalgamation, but, in the end, the St. Richard’s vestry declined to accept the proposal, which would have resulted in selling the St. Richard’s property. The final service was held on April 27, 2003, with the founding priest, the Reverend Fred Hall, preaching.

The building is now home to the New Gate Korean Presbyterian Church. (I have, as yet, not been able to gain access to the building to see what remains of the furnishings.

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The parish of St. James the Just (located in Downsview near Dufferin and Wilson) had a very short history of twenty-two years, with just thirteen years in its first and only building. And yet it also had a difficult birth.

After the Second World War, Downview was still largely a farming community, but farmland quickly began to be subdivided for housing. In 1946 a retired priest with the last name Ben-Oliel was appointed to begin an Anglican community. The first service was held on December 8, 1946 at the Duffield Community Hall located at Dufferin and Wilson. The building (known informally as Duffy’s Tavern, after a popular radio program at the time) had poor heat, a leaking roof, and was far from a commodious place from which to build a congregation. It was quite common for people to come once and not return.

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Land for a permanent church building was purchased on Dufferin Street but the congregation was not in a position to begin to build.

In the fall of 1949, the Reverend E.A.H. Clifford was appointed to St. James and the parish of St. Lawrence, which opened the previous year south of St. James on Dufferin. The congregation continued to meet at the Community Hall until it was condemned in 1953. This caused a crisis for the congregation which had, for a time, nowhere to meet. In January of 1954 it began to meet at the Anthony Road School. The move to a better location seemed to turn attendance around. Deaconess Mabel Jones was appointed to conduct a parish survey. Making over 1000 visits (a staggering number), she identified 346 Anglican families in the community. In May of 1954 a rectory was purchased and the Reverend George Joseph Ball was assigned to the parish.

But still, there were set-backs. The congregation had to move to a rented store for the summer of 1954, after the school year ended. But by September attendance was increasing again and $40,000 in pledges (approximately $350,000 in today’s dollars) had been made for a building.

The site that had been purchased on Dufferin had, by this time, been sold and a new site purchased.  Architectural drawings which had been prepared several years earlier were finally acted on and the cornerstone of the new building laid on March 6, 1955.

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Construction was speedy, with the first service of the completed St. James the Just being held on June 12, 1955.

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In his letter to the parish at the time of the opening of the building, Bishop Frederick Wilkinson wrote of his relief that the day had finally come: “I cannot tell you what great pleasure I have derived from the building, completing and opening of the Church of St. James-the-Just. When I first became responsible for the work of Chruch Extension I sometimes wondered whether the Church of St. James-the-Just was ever going to be completed.”

In 1959 the Reverend Marwood F. Patterson was appointed. (He is well-known now as Marney Patterson, author and evangelist.) St. James was booming. For example, at one point there were 131 children registered in the Sunday School, with an average weekly attendance of 81. The boom continued through the first half of the 1960s, but by mid-decade things had changed. The parish history refers obliquely to some controversy. Demographic changes were also having an impact on the parish. The Rector’s vestry report of 1966 refers to “quite a decline in attendance. People have been moving out and Italian people moving in.”  Parish offerings plummeted 72% in one year!

By the end of 1967 the diocese gave St. James two options. Either close or amalgamate with St. Lawrence. At a Special Vestry meeting the parish decided on amalgamation. The minutes of this meeting note: “At the present time St. James has no propsects because of the incoming Italian population, and also no place to expand on account of the Airport at the north and Yorkdale at the south.”

In February 1968, St. James and St. Lawrence (now known as San Lorenzo) amalgamated. The land was sold in order to pay down the parish’s debts.

Today the building is St. Norbert Roman Catholic Church, a parish whose liturgies are offered in both Italian and English.

IMG_4352 (683x1024)An entrance-way has been added to the west end of the building.


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Unfortunately there are no interior photographs of the interior of the building when it was St. James to compare to what it looks like today.

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This year is the thirtieth anniversary of St. Dunstan of Canterbury Anglican Church, the most easternly parish in the City of Toronto, located near the Rouge Valley.

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St. Dunstan’s was established from by an amalganation of two parishes: St. Edward the Confessor (which was located in West Hill, a short distance to the east) and St. Simon’s, which was located in the community of Highland Creek, a short distance north.

These two church buildings are among the most unusual that I’ve discovered in my research.

The St. Edward’s building began life in the nineteenth century as a barn on the Ed Lacey Farm. The barn and land was purchased by the Diocese of Toronto to allow for future church growth in the West Rouge community.

In 1959, the barn was renovated and converted into a worship space. Work on this project was funded by the Diocese of Toronto, under the supervision of the parish of St. Simon, Highland Creek (with whom St Edward’s would amalgamated in 1984).

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A new roof, floors, heat and plumbing were added, as well as windows in the form of a cross, all of which went some distance to making the building bear a closer resemblance to a church. The converted barn was opened for worship on September 13, 1959.

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Over the 20 years between 1962 and 1982, nineteen clerics served St. Edward’s (averaging almost one a year.) Among them was the Reverend Ina Caton (1979-1981), one of the first women ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Toronto. Perhaps because of this instability in leadership, coupled with a building which did not conform to expectations of what a church building “should” be, St. Edward’s never grew.

The last service was held on September 30, 1984, twenty five years from the first. The building was sold to Grace Baptist Church. In the mid-1990s it was sold to Muslim congregation, which now uses it as a mosque.

An interesting note about the building as it appears today is the alteration to the cruciform windows.

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The other predecessor parish to St. Dunstan of Canterbury was St. Simon’s, Highland Creek.

Highland Creek is a community in what is now Scarborough, located west of the Rouge Valley. Before the 1920s, Anglicans in Highland Creek travelled to St. Margaret’s, West Hill, some one-and-a-half miles to the west. In 1923, funds were raised to purchase a quarter of an acre in Highland Creek in order to build a church. St. Simon’s Church in Toronto (located on Bloor Street) provided a significant donation, and thus the new parish took the same name. Sod was turned in 1925 and the basement built. From 1923 until 1950, St. Simon’s, along with St. Margaret’s and Christ Church, Scarborough, formed one parish, known as the “Parish of Scarborough.” The undated photograph shows the priest and choir in front of the entrance to the basement church.

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After the Depression years, followed by the Second World War, work on the building resumed in 1952, when the first part of the superstructure was built. The building was designed by artist Donald Self, who was also a parishioner. Over the next five years, the building was completed.

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What made this building unique it unique is that it was assembled from bits and pieces rescued from other church buildings demolished in the 1950s. Some of the labour was provided by parishioners and the rector, the Reverend G.W.B. Wheeler.

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The lower nave windows came from Wood Street Congregational Church (located near Maple Leaf Gardens); the rose window from Elm Street Methodist Church, the clerestory windows from the Catholic Apostolic Church which was located at Gould and Victoria Streets. The diocesan archives also say that part of another window came from Yorkminster in the United Kingdom. Many of the windows were designed by Donald Self from salvaged glass. The south entrance doors came from St. Michael and All Angels on St. Clair Avenue, and the large nave and transept windows from St. George the Martyr, located near the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Thanks go to Fr Bob Bettson, a former parishioner of St. Simon’s, for the first photograph below.

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Not only did the Catholic Apostolic Church donate windows, but there was also a confidential donation. A letter in the Diocese of Toronto archives from Bishop Frederick Wilkinson to the rector and chruch wardens (dated December 16, 1955) explains the donation of $15,000. “The trustess of the Catholic Apostolic Church regard this as the Lord’s money to be used in the extension of his work, and they wish noreferene to be made to themselves or any publicity whatsoever.” (For more information about the Catholic Apostolic Church, see here.) The photograph below is of the Catholic Apostolic Church.

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In 1960 additional land was purchase and consideration was given to building a new church. Instead a parish hall was built, which opened in 1968.

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Again, in 1981, there was talk of a new church building.

It would seem that this “something borrowed, something blue” building never fully met the needs of the community. Instead, the building was sold in 1983, and St. Simon’s and St. Edward the Confessor amalgamated to form a new parish (St. Dunstan of Canterbury) with a new name in a new location.

The final service at St. Simon’s was held on November 30, 1983. The property was sold in July 1984 to a Sikh temple and, shortly thereafter, burned to the ground.

Today, the site of the former St. Simon’s is occupied by housing.

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Recently I was cleaning up my stash of photos taken for this project and came across four photos of St. Jude’s, Roncesvalles I’d somehow neglected to include in the original post.

These photos are of the exterior and interior of the original St. Jude’s, which opened in 1890. After the new church was built in 1912, this building served as the parish hall until 1929, when it was demolished to make way for a larger hall.

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This photograph show the new church with the old one still standing next door. From the landscaping, I’d presume this was taken in 1912 at the time of the completion of the new church.

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And, finally, a photograph of the new church with remarkably overgrown ivy, which must have significantly blocked the light through the west windows.

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The dates on this cornerstone (1832 – 1889 – 1956) tell, in brief, the story of Christ Church, Mimico, which served the community of Mimico for 179 years on what is now Royal York Road.

IMG_2057 (Medium)Today this is the site of Christ Church Mimico Memorial Garden, a cemetery and oasis on a busy road. Until two fires in 2006 destroyed the third Christ Church building, this was also the site of the parish church.

Christ Church was the eighth oldest parish in the Diocese of Toronto, dating its establishment to 1827 (although there may have been Anglican services held in Mimico as early as 1823). In the early 1820s, William J. Gamble (1805-1881) opened a sawmill on Mimico Creek and a community developed. Gamble was a driving force behind the establishment of an Anglican community in Mimico, and one story has it that part of his impetus was to provide spiritual activity to occupy his rowdy lumbermen. Among those who officiated on occasion in Mimico was John Strachan, later Bishop of Toronto.

The first Christ Church building was erected in 1832 on land donated by William Gamble. (I could find no indication of where services were held before 1832.) The images below capture this small frame building.

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Christ Church was served by the Reverend Thomas Phillips, who also served St. Phillp’s, Weston, which was founded in 1828. (Services were also held at an ‘intermediate point’ between the two, which was likely Islington, and which grew into St. George’s-on-the-Hill in 1847. By 1856, Christ Church and St. George’s were a two-point parish. In 1877, the first Christ Church building was enlarged with the addition of a chancel.

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In 1889 a decision was taken to build a new church, which was opened on June 9th of that year. The second Christ Church was a much larger and grander building.

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In 1892, Christ Church became a separate parish.

A remarkable aspect of the story of Christ Church is that it was led for a total of fifty-seven years by just two rectors, who were father and son. The Reverend Francis Tremayne became rector in 1877 until his death (in his ninetieth year) in 1919. His son, the Reverend H.O. (Herbert) Tremayne came to Christ Church in 1907 to assist his father, and served from his father’s death until his own death in 1934. Both are buried in the Christ Church cemetery.

In 1956, a decision was taken to demolish the second Christ Church and build again.

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It was this building which was seriously damaged in the 2006 fires, after which a decision was taken to demolish what remained. Until 2009, Christ Church worshipped with its daughter parish, St. James’, Humber Bay and, at the beginning of 2010, the new amalgamated parish of Christ Church St. James was established.

The parish’s bell is preserved in the cemetery, as well as other reminders of the long history of Christ Church, Mimico.

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Today, the area on Sheppard Avenue West between Allen Road and Bathurst Street is underdoing a significant redevelopment (called, by some, “avenuization”), with condo developments being built and single family homes along Sheppard boarded up and ready for demolition. Also ready for redevelopment is the site of the former Church of the Apostles on the south side of Sheppard at Harlock Boulevard, in the area known as Downsview.

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In 1930s this was sparsely built-up countryside. The priest at St. John’s, York Mills, the Reverend A.C. McCollum, convened a meeting and a decision was taken to purchase land on Thornburn Avenue (now Gorman Park Road). In 1936 a small building was erected by men of the parish and it was furnished with hand-me-downs: an altar made from a wooden bedstead, a second-hand pulpit, benches handmade from available lumber. The building was heated by a pot-bellied stove formerly in a railway station, and the font was a borrowed cut-glass bowl. Water was fetched on foot from a pump located on Sheppard Avenue. A.C. McCollum visited once a month from St. John’s to celebrate holy communion. It is not clear how the parish got its name, but one story recorded in the diocesan archives is that there happened to be twelve people present at the meeting called to choose a name.

By 1950 the congregation had outgrown the small building and land was purchased one block east. The first church building was sold in 1953, used for a time as a private residence and then demolished.

The new building was opened and dedicated on November 16th, 1953 by Bishop Beverley. It was intended as a parish hall with (presumably) the church to be build later. The design of the hall was based on that at St. Philip’s, Weston.

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The promotional material for the new parish hall provides a picture of the important place church halls played in the community in the 1950s. Not only was it to be a place for spirituality, but also sports, social groups, drama and education. (“To serve the community of Haviland” as it was then known, located nearby the de Havilland aircraft plant.)

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In 1965, the Church of the Apostles was part of a diocesan first — an attempt at team ministry among neighbouring parishes. Three congregations (Apostles, St. Laurence, and St James the Just) were overseen by two clerics (J.A. Purser and W.G. Linley). “The Parishes of Yorkdale” had a central Parish Executive Committee with each congregation maintaining its Advisory Board. Parish finances were centralized, with each congregation providing payments proportionate to its size. This experiment proved, however, to be unsuccessful and was cancelled within months.

St. James the Just was disestablished in 1968 and by the next year disestablishment was also on the table for the Church of the Apostles. The parish persisted, however, celebrating the building’s fortieth anniversary in 1993. The Church of the Apostles closed and was disestablished at Pentecost 2012.

The building is currently in use by a church called The Truth Centre while a proposal goes forward to redevelop the land with housing.

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One of the reasons I started this research project was St. Jude’s, which was located on the east side of  Roncesvalles Avenue, a few blocks south of Bloor. The family connections are on both sides of my family. My maternal grandfather, the Reverend Canon Warren Turner, was the rector of St. Jude’s from 1955 to 1976. My paternal grandparents were members of the parish and my father sang in the choir as a boy.

The parish began life in 1882 as a mission from St. Anne’s Church, and was known as the “Howard Street Mission”. At the time this area was (in the words of John Ross Robertson) the “extreme west end” of the city. The Reverend John McLean Ballard, the rector of St. Anne’s, sent Trinity College student John Gibson to hold services in the school house on Boustead Avenue. (I assume that this is the same John Gibson who plays a major role in the history of the Church of the Ascension, also written up in this blog.)

In 1886, the Reverend Henry Softley, curate at St. Olave’s Church, revived the Sunday School, and a building lot on Roncesvalles was purchased. In 1888 the mission was given the name of St. Jude’s, and the next year, the cornerstone was laid for the first St. Jude’s building, which opened in 1890. The building, shown in the sketch below from John Ross Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, sat one hundred people, and was described as a “quaint English chapel”.

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The churchmanship of St. Jude’s was in the high church tradition, as it was typically expressed in the nineteenth century. There was a pipe organ and a surpliced choir. Some of the early clergy who served the parish later went on to serve anglo-catholic parishes in the city. The Reverends John Charles Roper (later bishop) and C.H. Shortt both took services during the 1880s, and later were vicars of St. Thomas’, Huron Street). The Reverend Frank Hartley, the first curate, left shortly after the building opened to become the rector of St. Matthias, Bellwoods. In 1903 alterations and improvements were made to the building, and in 1905 St Jude’s was set apart as a separate parish.

In 1911, work began on a larger church building, located in the lot to the north. The new St. Jude’s, which sat 550, was dedicated on September 12, 1912.

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In the 1920s, St. Jude’s continued to demonstrate a high ecclesiology. A 1922 parish magazine announced the celebration of Holy Communion at 10.30 am and Evensong at 8 pm on Ascension Day (which falls on a Thursday), noting that “[t]his is one of the great festivals of the year, and it is surprising how lax many people are in its observance.” The next year, the following description of its churchmanship was outlined in the parish newsletter:  “The Church of St. Jude has stood for a very definite churchmanship during the past quarter of a century. If it had any faults it at least never has trimmed its sails to catch every kind of breeze. It has not sought popularity by sacrificing principle. There have been no “frills” and no “imitations” of religious bodies with whom we consistently differ. It believes that the Church is more than a mere human institution organized by good people to do God’s work among men; it believes that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to establish His Church and that every division of Christendom is contrary to his divine purpose. It believes that the Church of England is a branch of this Holy Catholic Church commissioned by God to minister to the needs of the English speaking people.” And this: And “If the Holy Communion is merely a memorial then it is of no greater value than a picture of the death of Christ or a crucifix placed before our eyes.”

(It should be noted, however, that St. Jude’s was never an anglo-catholic parish. Under my grandfather’s rectorship, it was a cassock and surplice parish, with holy communion alternating with morning prayer on Sunday mornings — standard fare for mid-century Anglican parishes.)

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In 1929, the old church was demolished and in its place a parish hall erected. The hall was focused on the needs of children and young people, and included a gymnasium and an auditorium, designed for the enrollment of 900 students in the Sunday School program. And, indeed, in the 1930s, the numbers were huge. In the mid-1930s it was not unusual to have 600 young people in Sunday School. (My grandfather did a placement at St. Jude’s when he was a student at Trinity College in the 1930s and my mother recalls him talking about the huge number of young people.)

By the 1950s, the demographics of the neighbourhood were undergoing a profound change, one which affected St. Jude’s and many other parishes closer to the downtown. In 1955, my grandfather succeeded the Reverend R. J. Shires, who had gone to St. Jude’s in 1933. The next year, the weekly report on attendance and finances which was included in the Sunday leaflet included this pithy summary:

10 June 1956. Report for Last Week — Attendance. Finances. DISAPPOINTING!

In the same year, the parish newsletter highlighted the predicament of families leaving for the suburbs:  “Replacements Needed. By the end of June, due to removals from our city, our Church will have lost six or more regular subscribers in a short period. Of course, we shall miss these people for their own sakes. But it is obvious that their going will also affect our financial picture. We need to replace these good givers with new ones.” In his report to Vestry in 1956, the rector put it this way:   “Let’s face it. This parish will never again be the kind of settled residential parish it was prior to 1939. It is now largely one of apartment (sic), suites and rooms and that means a constantly changing population… at first sight  it appears that our district is now predominantly European in their national origin and Roman Catholic in Faith.” 

The life of St. Jude’s continued for the next two decades. Consideration was given to selling the property in 1967 and a parish commission was established, but no decision taken. It became a much smaller parish with a strong sense of community. I recall many families (including mine) travelling from the suburbs to attend church on Sundays, their loyalty to the parish intact.

In 1977, the parish was disestablished. My grandfather had retired the previous year, after several months of ill health. (He died of a heart attack five hours after his retirement took effect.) The last priest-in-charge was Fr Donald W. Clark. When I arrived at my current parish, I met Fr. Clark and his wife Ritsu, who were married at SMM in 1951, and had the privilege of presiding over the renewal of their weddings vows at SMM, sixty years after they were married.

Many of the furnishings from St. Jude’s went to a new St. Jude’s in Bramalea, which opened in May 1980. This included several of the stained glass windows and the baptismal font. These can be seen here on the parish website. Other windows went to St. Francis of Assisi in Mississauga. Many years ago I visited the new St. Jude’s and saw the font, seen below in these photographs of my baptism on Sunday June 12, 1966. (I’m the fifteen-day-old bald-headed infant in my grandfather’s arms.)

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St Jude’s holds for me and my family many memories. My paternal grandfather, Ralph Harrison, at one point served as the rector’s warden to my maternal grandfather, as the leaflet below indicates.

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There is also a connection with my wife Mary Lou’s family through her father, Donald Foster. Don, who went on to pioneer and lead the funeral service education program at Humber College, started his career in the 1950s at the Turner & Porter funeral home located directly across the street from St. Jude’s. After Mary Lou and I met, we discovered that my future father-in-law and my grandfather did many funerals together in those years, ten years or so before Mary Lou and I were born.

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After St. Jude’s closed, the building was sold to another church and continued to be used as a church for many years. On one occasion when it was up for sale I contacted the real estate agent, who gave me the opportunity to tour the facility. By then it was in very poor repair, but I discovered the organ was still in place. I turned on the blower and managed to eke out a few out-of-tune notes as I recalled times, as a child, sitting on the same bench, with the blower turned off, make-believing that I was an organist. (Truth be told, I think I also stood in the pulpit and pretended I was a priest.)

Later, the parish hall was used for a time as a market. I recall visiting it once. The external brick work had been painted very colourfully and artistically. The photograph below, of poor quality, gives some indication of what it looked like.

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Finally, the building was purchased by developer Harry Stinson and the Mirvish family. For a time, the Mirvish family used the parish hall as a rehearsal space for their musicals, including Mamma Mia and The Lion King. It was an ideal location because the wood floor in the parish hall was sprung and congenial for the dancers.

The plan was for St. Jude’s to be converted into 27 loft condominiums. The photographs below are taken from a 2001 Toronto Star feature article about the project.

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Unfortunately the units didn’t sell and, instead, the building was demolished in 2004. (There is an extensive gallery of photographs from the demolition process here. The external shot shows part of the painted parish hall.)

Before the building was torn down, the Wilson’s (another long-standing St Jude’s family) negotiated to salvage the bell. It has now been installed in the tower at their parish, All Saints, Kingsway where it chimes daily. A few years ago, the rector Andrew Sheldon kindly led me up to the tower to see the bell.

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Instead of the original conversion project, a new building of condominiums was built at 437 Roncesvalles Avenue.

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IMG_7726 (Medium)The interior space, seen in the second photograph below, has a strong architectural echo to the original church’s ceiling.

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The roof top patio and gardens have some great views. (I must say I fantasized about some day retiring to this building!)

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I’m very grateful to Fr David Belden for sending me these historic photographs of the former St. Edmund the Martyr, located at Davenport & Dovercourt. (For more information about St. Edmund’s, click on the link to the left.) I am also grateful to Susan Jennings, whose aunt had these photographs in her collection. Susan’s grandparents met and were married at St. Edmund’s. (They are the people “Xed” in the photograph below of the St. Edmund’s youth group.)

“The Dell” — Davenport & Dovercourt c. 1907-1909.


The church being built and completed.



A photo of the youth group on the front steps.


The interior of the church before pews.


And after pews were installed for the choir.


The completed interior.


Thistletown is a community in northern Etobicoke, near the intersection of Albion and Islington. Its roots date back to 1847. Its original name was “St. Andrew’s”, but this name was eventually abandoned because of confusion with St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick. Instead, the name Thistletown was adopted, in honour of Dr.William Thistle (d. 1856), a prominent Anglican layman who is buried in the cemetery of St. Philip’s, Etobicoke.

When an Anglican presence began in Thistletown, it was decided to name the parish St. Andrew’s, in recognition of the original village name. The first services in Thistletown were held in 1920, but the Anglican presence in the area dates back as far as 1838, under the auspices of one of the oldest parishes in the diocese, St. Philip’s. The St. Andrew’s mission started under the leadership of the Reverend Frederick Robertson of St. Philip’s, with services being held in the Village Hall.

A site on Riverdale Drive, near Albion Road was donated and the first St. Andrew’s was built through the efforts of a multi-faceted building campaign which included door-to-door canvassing, bazaars, concerts, and solicitations of the home towns of the British settlers. The new building was dedicated on September 11, 1921.

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Photographs below, taken in 1957, show that the village-style church was, in the post-war years, busting at its seams.

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St. Andrew’s was associated with St. Philip’s until 1950, and then with Christ Church, Woodbridge until 1952, when it finally received its first full-time rector, the Reverend Geoffrey Parke-Taylor, who later taught at Wycliffe College and served as a Suffragan Bishop in both the dioceses of Huron and Toronto.

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With the post-war population expansion, St. Andrew’s needed more space and a site at the corner of Barkwin and Wardlaw was secured. (The original St. Andrew’s was destroyed by fire in October 1983; at the time it was  boarded up and not in use.).

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The cornerstone was laid on September 21, 1960, and the new St. Andrew’s was dedicated by Bishop Hunt on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, 1960.

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In 1991, St Andrew’s became a two-point parish, pairedd with St. Timothy’s-by-the-Humber. The parish was closed and deconsecrated on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, 2003, having served the community of Thistletown for eighty-three years.

The building has been torn down and is,today, the site of a handful of houses.

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Long Branch was a village along the lakeshore which was swallowed up by the Borough of Etobicoke and, eventually, by the City of Toronto. The parish history of St. Agnes’ Church (A Community of Caring: The story of St. Agnes’ Anglican Church, Long Branch, 1919-2004) describes Long Branch in 1919 as an ‘arboretum’, a community of cottages near the lake shore.

In 1919, women living in Long Branch who wanted to provide for Christian education for their children began to meet. One of them was Mrs. M. Snell, mother of George, Herbert and Dorothy. Her sons both eventually were ordained, and George Snell was the eighth Bishop of Toronto (1966-1972). (See also the entries about St. Barnabas, Halton for other connections with Bishop Snell.) A retired priest from the Diocese of Qu’appelle in Saskatchewan, the Reverend J.R. Martins, had moved to Long Branch to be near relatives. He began the mission that was to become St. Agnes’, first meeting in a school auditorium, and then in a tent. This photograph below, taken in 1920, shows the Sunday School in front of the tent (located on the present site of James S. Bell Middle School).

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The first permanent meeting place of St. Agnes was a small cottage, seen in the two photographs below.

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Land was soon purchased on what is now Long Branch Avenue, just south of Lake Shore Boulevard, and a church built through voluntary efforts of the congregation. St. Agnes was, at the time, under the care of nearby Christ Church, Mimico.

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This building suffered a fire in 1944 and, although note completely destroyed, the congregation decided to tear it down and rebuilt.1944 fire. The second St. Agnes’ is shown below.

IMG_9550 (Medium)By 1955 the population in Long Branch had grown substantially and a decision was taken to build a new church. This is the present-day structure on the site; it was dedicated by Bishop Wilkinson on December 15, 1958.

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IMG_9543 (Medium)The photographs above and below show how the chancel and sanctuary area evolved, with the removal of the choir screen and the moving forward of the altar closer to the congregation.

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The photograph below, from the parish history, shows Bishop Snell returning to his roots at St. Agnes’, accompanied by some of the clergy who served the parish over its history.

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St. Agnes’ closed in 2005 and the building was sold. It is now home to a Polish Pentecostal congregation.

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The cornerstone of the 1958 building is still visible.

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An interesting feature of the property is the rectory, which is immediately adjacent and, in fact, attached to the church building.

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Through kindness of the pastor, I was able recently to see inside the space and take photographs. It is large as it would have been in its St. Agnes’ days, although the altar and its platform have been moved back toward the wall some distance.

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This is the side altar.

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And the aumbry, for the reservation of the sacrament.

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The lively story of the Church of the Ascension (at Richmond & University) and how it became the “rogue” parish at the corner of Avenue Road and Burnaby Boulevard is told in another blog entry. (Click on Church of the Ascension in the category listing.) In 1944, the parish was renamed St. Margaret’s, and continued on this site until it was closed in 2009 and amalgamated with St. Clement’s, Eglinton.

A parish hall was added in 1953 and, in 1963/4, the chancel was enlarged and a gymnasium added in the basement. These were boom years for St. Margaret’s. Writing in the Toronto Telegram, religion write Aubrey Wice said “This congregation keeps on growing.”

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(In researching St. Margaret’s, I came across a photograph of the infamous Henry Roche.His story is told in the Church of the Ascension entry)

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The St. Margaret’s building was recently demolished and the site is currently being redeveloped into the “One the Avenue” townhomes.

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In 1930, St. Luke’s, Bay Street located to Westwood Avenue in the city’s east end. The site was purchased in March and the building opened on St. Andrew’s Day (30 November), 1930.

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The original plan had been for St. Luke’s to amalgamate with St. Andrew’s, Todmorden, but this idea was rejected by the St. Andrew’s congregation. In 1936 the two parishes were amalgamated (St. Andrew’s no longer being viable), and until 1952, the parish was known as St. Luke’s & St. Andrew’s. (For a time, the St. Andrew’s building was used for Sunday School, but the site was eventually sold and the building demolished to make way for a gas station.) In the early 1950s a extension was put on the building which included a chapel named St. Andrew’s (which also incorporated the altar from the former St. Andrew’s). The cornerstone below includes the dates of the original St. Luke’s, the 1930 building, and the addition.

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This is the only photograph of the interior of St. Luke’s, Westwood that I could find in the diocesan archives. (If others have photographs, I’d be interested in adding them.)

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In 1971, St. Luke’s was amalgamated with the Church of the Comforter on Cosburn Avenue, the building sold, and the name “St Luke’s” being adopted for the amalgamated parish. Until early 2012 the Westwood Avenue site was the home of the Toronto East Seventh Day Adventist Church. At the moment, the building is still standing but is unused. I suspect that it will, sooner or later, be demolished.


I’ve written about St. Mark’s Carlton Village (aka St. Mark’s, West Toronto) and Calvary Church, which were amalgamated in 1970 to become St. Mark & Calvary.

Here are some photographs taken at a recent visit to the building, which is now the home of the Cornerstone Baptist Tabernacle. When I was last at the site, after St. Mark & Calvary closed and before the new owners took possession, I missed this cornerstone because it was obscured at the time by a large bush.

IMG_7748 (Medium)I’m grateful to Ben Reid, son of Pastor Patrick Reid, for graciously allowing me to take photographs of the interior.

This reredos behind the altar is by the noted Canadian artist Sylvia Hahn. It depicts Christ in the centre, flanked by St. Mark on the left and St. Michael on the right. The pulpit has been moved to the centre, between the choir stalls.

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These final two photographs are of a separate side chapel. The banner (“Calvary”) is surely from the former Calvary Church.

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