When I first started looking carefully at the list of former Anglican churches in the Diocese of Toronto, I was surprised that there had been a parish on Lansdowne Avenue — St. Dunstan’s — which closed as recently as 1982. I’d never heard of it. A while back I set out to visit the site — on the west side of Lansdowne north of Bloor and south of Dupont. There I found the Ghandi Bhavan Hindu Temple.
At first I wasn’t sure whether or not this was the building of the former St. Dunstan’s, until I found this cornerstone.
St. Dunstan’s was a mission of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, which was located on Westmoreland Avenue, just north of Bloor between Dufferin and Ossington. The site on Lansdowne was purchased in 1923 and St. Dunstan’s was set aside as a separate parish.
When I looked around the property I was puzzled because behind the facade there was only a building of ordinary residential height. It looked as if the top of the building had been lopped off
It was only when I found the picture below in the diocesan archives, a polaroid snapshot of St. Dunstan’s, that I realized that what the current building is, indeed, all that ever existed of St. Dunstan’s.
The Vestry minutes from St. Dunstan’s filled in the rest of the story. When the parish was established in 1923, parishioners built what they could afford, which was the basement. The intention was, when funds permitted,to build the rest of the building. In 1929 there was a motion to extend and complete the basement, and the plans to complete the building were still alive. Not surprisingly, nothing was possible during the 1930s. Talk about finishing the building resumed in 1946 under the leadership of a new rector. The mortgage from the basement had been retired and work began on planning the long sought-after completion of the buildling. In 1948 there were plans for a new church which would seat 450 (the basement seating 250). By the 1950s, attendance and finances started to decline, and planning ended. By the late 1950s there was talk of closing the parish, something which came to pass in 1982. When the parish was disestablished, the memorials went principally to the parish of St. Mark & Calvary.
So far I’ve been unsuccessful in contacting someone about seeing inside. I’m hoping that there may be someone out there who might have more information or pictures about St. Dunstan’s, Lansdowne.