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Visiting Ontario's St Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough: Domed, Beaux-Arts Architectural Distinction

Updated on April 9, 2019
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
St Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough, with its dome a visible landmark
St Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough, with its dome a visible landmark | Source
St Augustine's Kingston Road, Scarborough, entrance
St Augustine's Kingston Road, Scarborough, entrance | Source
Map location of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario | Source

Striking Scarborough landmark with University of Toronto course links

This is an institution, now nearly 100 years old, which may definitely be described as being in a prime setting. St Augustine's Seminary was founded in 1913, housed in a distinguished building which is located at 2661 Kingston Road, in Ontario's Scarborough.

Today, Scarborough is formally part of Toronto and St Augustine's location is described as suburban. However, a century ago the site, near to Lake Ontario, in parkland which has been preserved, would have been regarded as being in a considerably more isolated Ontarian location than it is now.

The building is described as being in Beaux-Arts style. One of its especially distinguishing feature is the enormous copper-clad dome which tops its main structure. When floodlit, the dome's features may be clearly seen across the adjoining parkland from the nearby Kingston Road to particularly striking effect.

This structure was funded by local philanthropist Eugene O'Keefe (1). Its building materials, which have now matured for practically a century, are specified as being in burgundy and while colours.

The University of Toronto, through the Toronto School of Theology, is affiliated with some of the courses offered at St. Augustines. The student body is mainly Roman Catholic in composition, while students of other persuasions are also welcome. Given that the overall setting of St Augustine's is altogether quiet and undisturbed, this offers a great contrast to not a few other institutions and faculties linked with the University of Toronto, many of them in the bustling, Downtown area of the city.

A major resource of St Augustine's is the library. This collection of over 39,000 volumes complements the access which the student body also has to other libraries affiliated with the University of Toronto. The catalogue of most of the St Augustine's collection may be accessed through the Catalogue of the University of Toronto Libraries.


(1) Biographical note: Eugene O'Keefe, a noted, local businessman born in Ireland in 1827, died in 1913 before the building was complete.

Also worth seeing

The visitor attractions and cultural sites of the Greater Toronto Area are rather too numerous to summarize adequately here. But a few, more closely located, noted properties include the following:

At the Scarborough Historical Museum , in Scarborough's Thomson Memorial Park (distance: 5.0 kilometres), with its Cornell House and McCowan Log House , the lives of early Ontario settler families may be traced.

Ashbridge Estate , Toronto (distance: 9.1 kilometres), situated on Queen Street, East, recalls over 200 years of associations with the Ashbridges, who were another, early, settler family. The gracious property which stands at the centre of the estate dates from the mid-19th century.

Gibson House , Willowdale , Toronto (distance: 21.8 kilometres), which dates from 1851, is a local, historic property, now also a museum.

Erskine Church , Pickering (distance: approx. 19.2 kilometres); this church building dates from 1854. In its vicinity is a Pioneer Memorial Cairn, containing some interesting 19th century inscriptions.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to St Augustine's: approx. 40.8 kilometres). However, visitors may prefer to use the TTC public transit: services to the area include the #12 bus. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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