With three new posts, I’ve finished writing up all of the “lost Anglican churches” in the City of Toronto. So this is a wrap for this project, after almost four years. (I will update the blog as needed. For example, four parishes in the west end have recently amalgamated and there will be a couple of new posts in due course.)
Looking back, here is how I described the project when it started in February 2012:
On a different level, there are four things which coalesced to bring this project into focus. First, the church in which I was baptized, St. Jude’s on Roncesvalles. My grandfather, Fr. Warren Turner, was the rector of St. Jude’s, which closed in 1977. For many years it was used by other denominations. For awhile it sat derelict, and at one point many years ago I contacted the real estate agent who had it for sale and got a tour. For awhile the parish hall was used as a rehearsal studio for Mirvish Productions and, at another time, as a food market. A few years ago it was demolished. Second, a couple of years ago I received for Christmas a book published in 1985 about Spadina Avenue, not far from where we live, and in it I discovered that there used to be two Anglican churches on Spadina (St. Margaret’s and St. Philip’s) and that one of the buildings (St. Margaret’s) still exists as a retail centre. Third, in my last parish (St. Thomas’, Brooklin) we built a new church and incorporated furnishings from the former St. Clement’s, Riverdale.(In similar fashion, furnishings from St. Judes’, including the font in which I was baptized, found a new home at St. Judes’, Bramalea.) Finally, the parish I now serve (St. Mary Magdalene’s) itself was carved out of our mother parish, St. Matthias’, Bellwoods. In fact, this was what was happening in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s in Toronto: an explosion of church planting. SMM survives, but another carved out of St. Matthias’ (St. Barnabas on Halton Street) closed in the early 1970.
The blog has attracted over 30,000 views and over 10,000 visitors. It has been fascinating to hear from readers and the connections that the information presented has made. I hope that it has made a modest contribution to understanding the history of the Diocese of Toronto and, from a certain perspective, the history of the City of Toronto.
Some expressions of thanks are in order. To those who have read and offered comments, additional information and encouragement. (Two people in particular — Chris Ambidge and Dave Robinson — have been faithful and helpful readers, providing additional information and photographs.) To Mary-Anne Nicholls, the archivist for the Diocese of Toronto and her staff, who patiently put up with my presence in the reading room and were very helpful in making this project happen. To Patrick Cain, who created a much more attractive Google map with links with the blog posts. To Archbishop Colin Johnson and Elizabeth Hardy, the diocesan CAO, who have invited me on several occasions to present one of the “lost churches” to the Diocesan Council. And to my family who tolerated my research outings, sounded interested when I pointed out “that’s where St. So-and-So’s used to be”, and otherwise humoured me with encouragement and patience.