Historic Churches of Toronto

Below are some historic churches in downtown Toronto. Click on the small photos to see a larger version in a new window. The accompanying text gives a brief history of the church and its location.

The Church of the Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Church - click to enlarge

This Church is located behind the Eaton Centre adjacent to 6 Trinity Square (profiled on page 3 of “buildings”). The historical plaque on the building reads: “This church was made possible by a gift from Mary Lambert Swale of Yorkshire, England, who stipulated that ‘the seats be free and unappropriated forever’. At that time most other Anglican churches charged pew rentals. John Simcoe Macaulay donated the land, then on the outskirts of Toronto. Bishop John Strachan consecrated the church and Henry Scadding was first rector. Henry Bower Lane, architect, designed the modified Gothic church in the ancient criuciform plan. Bricks were hauled from the Don Valley and timbers from the surrounding forests. The roof slates came as ballast in British sailing vessels. In the twentieth century the church developed a tradition of ministry to the needs of people in the inner city.”

Church of the Redeemer

Church of the Redeemer - click to enlarge

Located at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road, the Church of the Redeemer was built in 1879. The architects were Smith and Gemmell, who also designed Knox College (now part of the University of Toronto) and St. Paul’s United Church on Avenue Road. The original church that stood on this site was a wooden structure that was actually a “hand-me-down” from St. Paul’s Anglican on Bloor. In 1860 St. Paul’s built a stone church and the wooden church it replaced was moved first to Bloor and Bay, and then to Bloor and Avenue Road, where it was renamed the Church of the Redeemer in 1871. The first rector was Canon Septimus Jones. Eight years later the present church was erected. In the early 1980’s, facing financial difficulties, the church sold some of its property to the north of the building, where the Renaissance Centre was erected. This has enabled the congregation to continue worshipping at its present location.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew's Presbyterian - click to enlarge

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is located on King St. at Simcoe. It was designed by architect George Storm and built in 1874-75. Toronto’s original St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church opened in 1831 at Church and Adelaide. By the early 1870’s the congregation had grown considerably, and it was decided that a new building was needed. The King and Simcoe location was proposed and the congregation was divided on this issue. As a result, they split, with most moving to the new church at King and Simcoe, and the remainder staying at Church and Adelaide.

St. Andrew’s Church

St. Andrew's Church - click to enlarge

St. Andrew’s Church is located at the southwest corner of Carlton and Jarvis Streets. The historical plaque reads: “Designed by Langley & Burke in gothic style and built of Credit Valley stone, this church was dedicated 17 March 1878. The Rev. Dr. G.M. Milligan, the first minister, who served here for over two decades, initiated its construction for his presbyterian congregation. With St. Andrew’s Church (1875) at King and Simcoe Streets, it replaced the original old St. Andrew’s (1831-1878) at Church and Adelaide streets. In 1951 the building was acquired by Estonian and Lativan Lutherans who arrived here as refugees following the occupation of their homelands on the Baltic Sea during World War II.”

The Heliconian Club (formerly Olivet Congregational Church)

Olivet Congregational Church - click to enlarge

This building hasn’t been used as a church since 1890, when a stone church of the same name was built just to its south. Located in Yorkville at 35 Hazelton Avenue, this board and batten structure was built in 1876. From 1890 when the new church was built until 1923 the building was used for various purposes, including a schoolhouse. In that year it was purchased by the Heliconian Club, formed in 1909 as a way for women in the arts to meet together. The organization continues to this day. This building and St. Andrew’s-on-the-Island are the only examples of board and batten construction that survive in Toronto. The 1890 Olivet Church, at 33 Hazelton Ave., is now used for commercial purposes, housing among other things an art gallery.