Visiting St Paul's Anglican Church, Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario: historic links with pre-Confederation times
Gothic reflection in a sea of commerce
Cathedral-like in its dimensions, the current building of St Paul's Anglican Church, 227 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario is the third such structure thus named. The main edifice which commands high visibility today dates from 1913, its monumental lines contrasting sharply with the immediate, bustling commercial environment of Bloor East. Its architect was E. J. Lennox (1854-1933) (1).
Features of St Paul's, executed in stone, include numerous instances of Gothic arching: a veritable riot of pointed windows, the arches of which in places interlock with one another. Its hexagonal tower is particulary conspicuous at the the Bloor Street East elevation. Its large Casavant organ dates from 1914.
The original building dated from 1842; this edifice was noted for its very tall spire. This building was formerly associated with a closed cemetery on Bloor Street known as the Potter's Field. The name 'St Paul's' dates formally from 1846. The second structure was built in 1860, and is basically incorporated into the present complex.
In recent years, architects Marie Black and Walter Moffat led a program of renovation.
Those engaged in ministry at St Paul's have maintained special links with Wycliffe College, Toronto and Tyndale Bible College and Seminary, Toronto.
This is one of the historic Downtown Toronto churches which have been designated the homes of noted military regiments. In the case of St Paul's, it has been the regimental home of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada for more than a century (2). The current Colonel-in-Chief of The Queen's Own Rifles is HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; past Colonels-in-Chief have included HM Queen Mary and HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy. Prominent individuals associated with the Regiment have included: The Right Honourable Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada 1952-1959, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, author of the widely read poem In Flanders Fields, and financier Major-General Sir Henry Pellatt, known for building Casa Loma, in which the Regiment's museum is also based (3).
A conspicuous war memorial particularly recalling fallen members of The Queen's Own Rifles is situated in front of the building.
November 22, 2013
(1) Other Toronto buildings for which Architect Lennox was responsible include Old City Hall, Casa Loma, and the King Edward Hotel, and many others.
(2) The Regiment itself was founded in 1860, and, in addition to major, subsequent wars, early conflicts in which its members saw service included the historic Battle of Ridgeway prior to Confederation, and the North-West Rebellion.
(3) It is undoubtedly relevant and of interest to mention some of the more promiment personalities with which a building associated with the Christian confession has been linked; but I am sometimes challenged by this in relation to the contrasting, preeminent record of the confession's lowly Founder: a dilemma which I have difficulty in resolving.
(Some sourcing from Wikipedia; see also www.stpaulsbloor.org .)
In Downtown Toronto itself, visitor attractions include: Old City Hall, St James's Cathedral, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, the CN Tower, the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building at Queen's Park, Fort York, Union Station, 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 building is close to TTC Subway stations Younge/Bloor and Sherbourne. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.