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Visiting the Church of the Messiah, Toronto, Ontario: nineteenth century monumentality in stone

Updated on August 5, 2013
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Church of the Messiah, Toronto
Church of the Messiah, Toronto | Source
Queen's Theological Hall, Kingston
Queen's Theological Hall, Kingston | Source

By Gordon and Helliwell, dating from 1891

This fine church building in Toronto, Ontario, is located at the intersection of Avenue Road and Dupont Street. Not unusually for a building dating from the Victorian era, it effuses solidity and monumentality.

The structure particularly is noted for its execution in stone, for its conspicuous tower, made more visible in the nieghbourhood by its proximity to the Avenue Road /Dupont intersection.

Gothic Revival

It also visibly exemplies Gothic Revival style. Thus, here we see repeated, pointed window arching in a manner associated with the style, very popular in the 19th century. Other Gothic Revival features present at the Church of the Messiah building include flying butresses and pinnacles.

The architectiural partnership Gordon and Helliwell (1) were responsible for the design of the building, which dates from 1891. This firm was headed by architects Henry Bauld Gordon (1854-1951) and Grant Helliwell (1855-1953)(2).

The congregation which the building houses is Anglican in affiliation. Its ministers have long maintained a link with Wycliffe Hall, University of Toronto — see also note (1), below.

In recent years the building has undergone a major program of rebuilding and refurbishment, following fire damage.

This building is thus a worthy addition to Toronto's considerable heritage of church architecture, recalling an era of particulary widespread churchgoing, when Toronto's population relfected a wider proportion of residents of British heritage.

August 5, 2013


(1) Other buildings for which Gordon and Helliwell were responsible include: Queen's Theological Hall, Kingston, Ontario (the stone execution and design monunentality of this building cause it somewhat to resemble the Church of the Messiah; see photo, right); Bathurst Street Methodist Church, Toronto; Avenue Road Church, Toronto (situated close to the Church of the Messiah); various buildings at Wycliffe Hall, University of Toronto; and many others.

(2) Grant Helliwell served as President of the Toronto Society of Architects in 1899.

Also worth seeing

In Downtown Toronto itself, visitor attractions include: Fort York, Old City Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building at Queen's Park, Union Station, the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Hall, 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. TTC Bus Route 6 passes Avenue Road / Davenport intersection a short distance from the Church of the Messiah. 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, you are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources.

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

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