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Visiting St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Simcoe Street, Toronto, Ontario: granite and sandstone monumentality

Updated on May 30, 2013
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Toronto
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Toronto | Source
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Toronto
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Toronto | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

Dating from 1876, an architectural masterpiece by William George Storm

While the congregation which first met in it dated from 1830, this monumental building, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, situated at 73 Simcoe Street, Toronto, Ontario, was opened in 1876.

The structure was executed in granite (some of which was imported from Scotland) and sandstone. Its appearance provided me with a throwback to visiting Aberdeen, Scotland, often known as the Granite City, for its many buildings in which this most durable material has been used.

The late 19th century was a period of revival for the Romanesque style which this building displays. Features of this imposting structure include its familiar Romanesque arching and rose window at its Simcoe Street, and its conspicuous towers in varied designs. Its architect was Scottish-born William George Storm (1826-1892)(1).

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Simcoe Street used to be known sometimes as 'New St.Andrew's', to distinguish it from 'Old St. Andrew's', also originating from the same 1830 Presbyterian congregation, located at the intersection of Jarvis and Carton Streets (2).

Interestingly, during World War One, a past minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, T. Crawford Brown, was also Chaplain to a noted infantry regiment known as the 48th Highlanders of Canada. This regiment maintains an official (and, in the Commonwealth, the most longstanding) link with the British Army's Gordon Highlanders. Indeed, the 48th Highlanders have their regimental museum here at St Andrew's also.

May 30, 2013


(1) Other structures by Architect Storm include Victoria College, in the University of Toronto, and for work on St James's Cathedral, Toronto, and Osgoode Hall, Toronto. Architect Storm was also President of the Ontario Association of Architects and was associated with the Sturm and Cumberland practice. Particularly influenced by Richardson Romanesque style, he is noted for having designed many school buildings and for heavy involvement in Masonic causes.

(2) This building, however, has served Lutheran congregants since the 1950s, and so the need for these two terms for disambiguation purposes has not arisen as acutely in recent decades.

Also worth seeing

In Downtown Toronto itself, visitor attractions include: Old City Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building at Queen's Park, Fort York, Union Station, the CN Tower, and many others.


How to get there: Porter Airlines, flies to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, with wide North American connections. Car rental is available at Union Station. Air Canada flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available, but visitors to Downtown Toronto will find many sights to be easily walkable. The closest TTC Subway station is St Andrew. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, you are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources.

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

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