The Project…

Here goes. Entering the blogosphere for the first time as blogger.

What’s this project about? Researching Anglican churches in the City of Toronto that are now closed. Many (but not all) of the buildings still exist, most converted to churches of different denominations, and some retrofitted in interesting ways.

Why this project? On one level, I was looking for a new focus for my personal sabbath time. Doesn’t sound like sabbath? Well, in a way, it isn’t, except I enjoy new projects and this takes me back to my days as a graduate history student, pouring through archives.

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. Judes’ on Roncesvalles. My grandfather, Fr. Warren Turner, was the rector of St. Judes’, 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 couple of years ago it was demolished.

Second, 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) is long gone.

Where’s this going? Not sure, but this blog is a start. I want to write about all of these churches, and then to look at the explosion and eventual retraction of parishes in light of growth and change in the city itself. (I’ll probably limit the project to parishes which were built before about 1925; tackling the suburbs is another project.)

Why the blog? A post on facebook about one discovery engendered quite a few comments, so I thought it would be useful to have a place to begin to share information and to invite leads, comments, recollections. (Tip of the hat to Mary Lou, my wife, who suggested to me, as I was beginning the project, that I should reach out to people who may have attended some of these places.I was dismissive of the idea. She, as usual, was right!)

More to come…

  1. local interest. said:

    wow…was told of this blog a few weeks back; this answers many questions about some places I’ve seen in the Places of Worship Inventory…a useful resource!

    • Thank you for your interest and comments. I’ve emailed the Places of Worship inventory to let them know about the blog. I’m hoping to get back into the archives in April to do some new research.

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