Toronto is a city of skyscrapers and unparalleled architectural solutions. Majestic churches harmoniously coexist with high-rise and modern office buildings. Each spiritual shrine has its own history and invites believers to pray. Their construction was part of the city’s development. Not all buildings survived in their original form till nowadays, but some still share the spirit of their history. Learn more at toronto-future.
After the Second World War, a large part of Ukrainians left their homes and emigrated to North America. Some of them settled in the largest Canadian city, Toronto, and on November 3, 1956, created the Eparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as a part of the Winnipeg Metropolitanate.
St. Paul’s Basilica
St. Paul’s Basilica is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Toronto. It is located at 83 Power Street in the old residential neighborhood of Corktown, to the east of the downtown, near the intersection of Queen and Parliament Streets.
In the past, the city of York was part of the Archdiocese of Kingston. In 1822, St. Paul’s was established as the first Roman Catholic parish between Kingston and Windsor. In two years, the first red brick church was built on that site. The territory to the east of the church was used as Toronto’s first Catholic cemetery. On the basis of the church, there was also a special school for the children of Irish immigrants.
In the second half of the 19th century, the St. Paul’s parish increased significantly in number and needed a bigger church. In 1889, the architect Joseph Connelly developed the church reconstruction project in the Italian Renaissance style, after which it became more modern-looking. In August 1999, St. Paul’s Church was granted the status of a Basilica by Pope John Paul II.
St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica
St. Michael’s Cathedral is located at 65 Bond Street in the Garden District. The spiritual shrine was built by the project of the architect William Thomas who was also engaged in the creation of eight other churches in the city. The cathedral was built mainly at the expense of Irish immigrants who lived in the area.
Initially, the building was located far from Toronto downtown, but its geographical position shifted towards the center as a result of the city development. The cathedral is a striking example of English Gothic Revival architecture and unites the largest English-speaking Catholic Archdiocese.
The construction of St. Michael’s Cathedral began in 1845. Local residents were engaged in digging the foundation. In 1848, the construction of the church was completed, and in 1866, the 79-meter-high bell tower, which is noticeable from afar, was consecrated.
St. Michael’s Cathedral never stood aside from the current social problems and did its best to help locals. For example, St. Michael’s Hospital was opened due to an outbreak of diphtheria in 1892.
The appearance of the cathedral didn’t change much over the decades. The interior is dominated by bright stained-glass windows, the characteristic feature of the classic Gothic style.
On September 29, 2016, St. Michael’s Cathedral was granted the status of a Basilica.
The Cathedral Church of St. James
The Cathedral Church of St. James is Toronto’s first Anglican church. Surrounded by a 19th-century garden, the church is located in the historic neighborhood of St. Lawrence.
The history of the church begins in 1793 when the first Anglican service was held in the small town of York (former name of Toronto). In 1807, it was decided to build a wooden church using the English soldiers as a workforce. The size of the building did not meet the needs of the parishioners and the idea to expand it emerged. In 1818, that idea was put into practice, and in addition, a bell tower was also built. The church existed in that form until it was destroyed by a massive fire in 1833.
After that incident, it was decided to demolish the remains of the building and build a modern stone church in the Neoclassical style instead. In 1834, the city of York was named Toronto and the Church of St. James became the cathedral.
Another fire of 1849 became an impetus for the start of new construction works. In 1853, a new Gothic cathedral appeared in Toronto, which became the city’s pride and gem. Later, the cathedral was expanded and the decorative elements were changed too. The high and thin spire, marble steps and beautiful stained glass windows give it special grandeur.
The Church of the Holy Trinity
The Church of the Holy Trinity was built at Trinity Square in 1847 by the architect Henry Bowyer Lane’s project. The biggest part of the construction fund was donated by an anonymous benefactor. However, locals also financially contributed to that public initiative.
The construction lot was allocated back in 1845. The Church of the Holy Trinity became the fourth Anglican religious institution in Toronto. The height of the cathedral can be compared to a five-story building. It is not enormous, but some architectural solutions help it to stand out among the surrounding buildings.
The Gothic Revival style is easily distinguishable on the exterior. The cathedral’s main entrance is decorated with two tall spires and charming stained glass windows. Limestone was used for the foundation and window’s sophisticated decorative details. Brick, sandstone and wood were also used for the construction.
Gothic elements are also present on the roof, doors, and windows. There is a lot of light inside during the daytime, as the stained glass windows are translucent. An interesting design solution was to use the line of colorful shields above the main entrance.
It is said that most of the funds (5, 000 sterling) for the construction of the Church of the Holy Trinity were donated by Mary Lambart Swale. At first, she kept it a secret, but later it was revealed. The benefactor asked the church to keep its doors always open to believers.
The church is located among skyscrapers, important office centers, hotels and educational institutions. The famous Eaton Center is located nearby. There were times when the church could be demolished because it did not fit into the development plans of the neighboring business center. However, active parishioners reacted quickly and prevented that from happening.
The church always welcomes the local homeless and needy. It even placed a special plaque with the names of those who died on the streets of Toronto.
The church irradiates special energy and, owing to its excellent acoustics, it hosts artistic events too.