St. Simon’s, Highland Creek

The other predecessor parish to St. Dunstan of Canterbury was St. Simon’s, Highland Creek.

Highland Creek is a community in what is now Scarborough, located west of the Rouge Valley. Before the 1920s, Anglicans in Highland Creek travelled to St. Margaret’s, West Hill, some one-and-a-half miles to the west. In 1923, funds were raised to purchase a quarter of an acre in Highland Creek in order to build a church. St. Simon’s Church in Toronto (located on Bloor Street) provided a significant donation, and thus the new parish took the same name. Sod was turned in 1925 and the basement built. From 1923 until 1950, St. Simon’s, along with St. Margaret’s and Christ Church, Scarborough, formed one parish, known as the “Parish of Scarborough.” The undated photograph shows the priest and choir in front of the entrance to the basement church.

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After the Depression years, followed by the Second World War, work on the building resumed in 1952, when the first part of the superstructure was built. The building was designed by artist Donald Self, who was also a parishioner. Over the next five years, the building was completed.

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What made this building unique it unique is that it was assembled from bits and pieces rescued from other church buildings demolished in the 1950s. Some of the labour was provided by parishioners and the rector, the Reverend G.W.B. Wheeler.

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The lower nave windows came from Wood Street Congregational Church (located near Maple Leaf Gardens); the rose window from Elm Street Methodist Church, the clerestory windows from the Catholic Apostolic Church which was located at Gould and Victoria Streets. The diocesan archives also say that part of another window came from Yorkminster in the United Kingdom. Many of the windows were designed by Donald Self from salvaged glass. The south entrance doors came from St. Michael and All Angels on St. Clair Avenue, and the large nave and transept windows from St. George the Martyr, located near the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Thanks go to Fr Bob Bettson, a former parishioner of St. Simon’s, for the first photograph below.

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Not only did the Catholic Apostolic Church donate windows, but there was also a confidential donation. A letter in the Diocese of Toronto archives from Bishop Frederick Wilkinson to the rector and chruch wardens (dated December 16, 1955) explains the donation of $15,000. “The trustess of the Catholic Apostolic Church regard this as the Lord’s money to be used in the extension of his work, and they wish noreferene to be made to themselves or any publicity whatsoever.” (For more information about the Catholic Apostolic Church, see here.) The photograph below is of the Catholic Apostolic Church.

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In 1960 additional land was purchase and consideration was given to building a new church. Instead a parish hall was built, which opened in 1968.

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Again, in 1981, there was talk of a new church building.

It would seem that this “something borrowed, something blue” building never fully met the needs of the community. Instead, the building was sold in 1983, and St. Simon’s and St. Edward the Confessor amalgamated to form a new parish (St. Dunstan of Canterbury) with a new name in a new location.

The final service at St. Simon’s was held on November 30, 1983. The property was sold in July 1984 to a Sikh temple and, shortly thereafter, burned to the ground.

Today, the site of the former St. Simon’s is occupied by housing.

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1 comment
  1. Doug Cowling said:

    I love the comment in Robertson’s description of the Catholic Apostolic Church at the link above:
    “When the reporter visited the building he was particularly cautioned not to set foot upon the highest of the four platforms because it is “holy;” even the caretaker does not go there for the purpose of cleaning and dusting; this work is only done by an official whose consecration gives him admission to the sacred precincts.” Positively levitical!

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