St. Edward the Confessor, West Hill

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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2 comments
  1. Doug Cowling said:

    Interesting that the effect of the floor-to-ceiling cruciform window was ruined by placing a dossel curtian behind the altar. It would have been quite striking to have had a simple unvested table as a free-standing altar.

  2. Judy said:

    I remember the days when St. Edward’s was a barn, and my Dad and the men of St. Simon’s and the community, helped turn it into a place of worship. My brother, sister and I were in the newly formed choir that my Mother lead, and during the week she ran a dance studio in the basement for the community. The “barn” became a community centre that the area needed very much. It is very sad to hear of its demise.

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