New Pictures — St. Dunstan’s, Lansdowne

Eureka! There was only one photograph of St. Dunstan’s, Lansdowne in the diocesan archives, and I was having a difficult time imaging what this building looked like on the inside, given it was built to be the basement of the church. 

And then I had an email a few weeks ago from the Reverend Sheila  Boudreau (Sheila and I were at Trinity College together). Sheila grew up at St. Dunstan’s; in fact her grandparents were likely among the very first parishioners when the building was built in 1923. Sheila sent me a photograph of the altar. She has other photographs which are stored away at the moment, but I’m hoping at some point I’ll be able to add them to the blog.

And then a second eureka! A number of weeks ago I happened to be biking up Lansdowne past the former St. Dunstan’s, which is now the Ghandi Bhavan Hindu Temple and I noticed the doors were open. I stopped and spoke to a few folks, explaining my project and interest in the building. They were enormously gracious and invited me to come back at another time with my camera.

On a recent visit I did just that. First things first — eating! The congregation was just finishing the meal they have together after every service and I was invited to partake of a lovely rice dish with salad. I asked some questions about Hindu rituals, and was told that the offering of food to the deities is an important aspect of the service. It is part of welcoming the presence of the deities as guests. “Just like you’ve welcomed me as a guest”, I said. And yes, that is what it is. The offering of a meal is a vital part of hospitality. (And I’ve been invited to come back ‘any time’!) Here are some of the members of the Ghandi Bhavan Hindu Temple who fed and welcomed me so graciously.

The photographs below show the space as it looks today. The pews are from the building’s St. Dunstan’s era. I was having difficult imagining what the space was like inside because, from the street, it is only the height of an  ordinary residential building. However you step down eight steps upon entering, which means the space (originally intended only as the basemenet of a larger church) has plenty of height.

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7 comments
  1. Shirley Ram said:

    Good article. Kid of confused about your last paragraph about contacting someone about seeing inside. Most of the current pictures was taken recently, so someone did get to see inside. Enlighten me please. If you’re interested the building is up for sale.

  2. Hi Shirley: Thanks for the comment. I posted about St. Dunstan’s twice. The first post was before I had the opportunity to see inside. The second was after I saw inside, a visit I really enjoyed!

  3. Richard Blanchard said:

    I worked near the former St. Dunstan’s for a time in the mid-1980’s and walked by it many times. Often wondered about its history and have never been able to find out much about the church’s history. Excellent work.

  4. Maureen Strang said:

    My mother’s family attended St Dunstan’s. My parents were married there in 1947. Unfortunately there were no pictures taken inside the church, but I remember my mother describing the challenge of walking down the stairs in a wedding gown. I can tell you that the rector was Rev. Spencer Churchill Jarrett from May 1 1946 until December 1 1963.

  5. Dana Curnock said:

    I recently acquired the church pews from this historical church. And like so many that walked or drove by it was surprised on the beauty inside. Would love to get more pictures from the past. Church has been sold and is being converted into a residence.
    danacurnock@gmail.com

    • Thank you for letting me know the building has been sold. I’ll have to go by some time and take a look. If I get more photos from the past I’ll be sure to post them. (What are you going to do with all those pews!)

  6. Eleanor Syme Godin said:

    Thank you for triggering a happy memory from my childhood. At some point between 1950 and 1953, I went to an after school program for neighbourhood children at St. Dunstan’s. That is where I was introduced to embroidery and knitting. I still on occasion find myself embroidering something and I always remember where I learned. Unfortunately I have no photos other than the ones that remain in my mind!

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