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).
The first permanent meeting place of St. Agnes was a small cottage, seen in the two photographs below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
St. Agnes’ closed in 2005 and the building was sold. It is now home to a Polish Pentecostal congregation.
The cornerstone of the 1958 building is still visible.
An interesting feature of the property is the rectory, which is immediately adjacent and, in fact, attached to the church building.
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.
This is the side altar.
And the aumbry, for the reservation of the sacrament.