Historical Religious Sites Walking Tour, Toronto

Historical Religious Sites Walking Tour (Self Guided), Toronto

Because it is an ethnically diverse city, Toronto has different types of churches beginning with imposing Revival style Cathedrals to small postmodernist churches. This tour however aims to introduce you to some of the most famous religious structures in the city. While in Toronto be sure to check the ones listed below.
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Historical Religious Sites Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Religious Sites Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Toronto (See other walking tours in Toronto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Church of the Holy Trinity
  • St. Michael's Cathedral
  • Metropolitan United Church
  • St. James Anglican Cathedral
  • Little Trinity Anglican Church
  • St. Paul's Basilica
  • St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church
Church of the Holy Trinity

1) Church of the Holy Trinity

Built in 1847, the Church of the Holy Trinity boasts a subtle yet resolute Gothic structure. Designed by Henry Lane, the Church was constructed by John Harper. Limestone from the Humber Valley and sandstone from Ohio was used for the construction of this building.

The Church was built in retaliation to the practices that were followed by established churches during those times. Churches throughout England and Toronto came up with a rule to charge a certain fee for reserving pews, which made it impossible for the poor to attend to. The Church of Holy Trinity was thus erected to provide a place of worship for one and all without any bench fee. The Church was completed on a budget of £5000 which was donated by Mary Lambert Swale of Settle, England, who supported the cause. Swale had originally made the donation anonymously, but her name was eventually revealed.

The church's Gothic Revival design is evident in the materials and elements of the building. This style emphasizes verticality and light, which is achieved through the use of tall stained glass windows and twin turrets outlining the main entrance of the church. Like many Gothic churches, the Church of the Holy Trinity uses limestone for its foundation and window tracery, as well as sandstone, brick, and wood. This church follows the Gothic church characteristic of a cruciform in plan.

The pointed arch is repeated throughout the whole building, present in the doors, windows, and Gothic vault. The stained glass windows are translucent and allow daylight into the church, each with its own unique design. Together, the variety of window designs speaks about the Bible and the history of the building.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Michael's Cathedral

2) St. Michael's Cathedral

On Church Street in the Garden District of Toronto stands St. Michael’s Cathedral. Clad in tones of grey and brick, this cathedral stands solitary with its exceptional majestic appeal and timeless architectural pride. And why not, St. Michael's is the oldest temple in Toronto, dating back to the mid-19th century.

This overpowering structure demands attention of any passer-by with its robust Neo-Gothic appearance and linear, geometric patterns. Although its exterior may be quite overwhelming and severe, the interior of the cathedral comes as a total surprise. Balancing the exacting exterior, the insides of the church are dabbed with color, grandeur and gentle elegance. Unlike many Christian places of worship in Toronto, built in Gothic Revival (where the Gothic is tweaked to fit modern times), St. Michael's Cathedral sticks to the classic Gothic style – featuring rich stained glass windows, high vaulted ceiling with richly hued murals and paintings along with sculptures of various saints and other figurines. The cathedral was designed by William Thomas, an Anglo-Canadian architect, best known for his stunning and timeless creations and vintage architectural landscape in Canada.

Other than being a place of faith for the Catholics of the region, this cathedral was heavily involved in the establishment of the St. Michael’s Hospital, a medical center and a teaching hospital in Toronto.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful architecture, magnificent in terms of colors and comfort.
After an extensive renovation, the basement is now functional, the pews are all cushioned and the solemnity of the place is well kept!

This is a great place to attend mass, especially when the St. Michael's choir is singing.
Metropolitan United Church

3) Metropolitan United Church

On your architectural tour of Toronto, the Church that will definitely make the A list is the Metropolitan United Church. With an overpowering appeal and majestic dignity, the Metropolitan United Church stands at the junction where Queen Street meets Church Street. Designed by Toronto’s revival godfather- Henry Langley, the Church took form in 1872.

Built with the capacity to seat more than 1900 people, the church was very often referred to as Cathedral of Methodism. So elaborate and rich is the architecture of the church that on several occasions the structure was referred to as the most handsome building in the city.

The chief architect of the Metropolitan Church was Henry Langley. Known for his conservative architectural ideas and designs, his style is reflected in this brilliant structure. Having a typical orientation towards Gothic architecture as displayed in most of his designs, the Metropolitan United is no exception. As brilliant as his other designs, this structure too stands as an example of how each of his work supersedes the previous one. With shades of grey and undertone of brick, the exterior of the church comes across as quite stern yet elegant. Equally stunning is the interior of the church where the sheer grandeur and opulence of the architecture can be appreciated.
St. James Anglican Cathedral

4) St. James Anglican Cathedral

One of the most enthralling churches of Toronto is the St. James Cathedral. Not only does the facade of this church make it captivating, but it is also the story that accompanies it.

Home to the oldest congregation in Toronto, established in 1797, St. James's serves as the spiritual center of St. Lawrence neighborhood and is the episcopal seat of the Anglican Church of Canada's Diocese of Toronto. All of this makes it one of the most treasured heritage sites in the city.

Built in the mid-19th century, the cathedral boasts a magnificent Gothic Revival style of architecture. Designed by Frederick William Cumberland, the St. James Cathedral greets spectators from far and wide coming to admire its sheer beauty. The structure flaunts a wonderful harmony of proportions and grandeur. With its white brick and sandstone exterior, the building conspicuously stands out in contrast to its surrounding landscape. Along with its exteriors, the cathedral's insides are also equally breathtaking. The architectural elements include high raised ceiling, ribbed vaults and pointed arched lights that brighten the interiors with natural illumination, making it a truly magnificent sight to behold during daylight.
Little Trinity Anglican Church

5) Little Trinity Anglican Church

Standing modestly on Kings Street in the Corktown neighborhood is the oldest standing church in Toronto. Simple and austere in its appearance, the Little Trinity Church has served as a place for worship, peace and brotherhood for many generations of families in Toronto. Built in 1844, the Church is the oldest surviving church building in the city.

The cornerstone for the Church was first laid in 1843, after a congregation that was set up by the working class who could not afford the high pews at the only existent Anglican Church at that time, the St. James Cathedral. Built on a modest and humble budget, the main aim of the Church was to provide a place of worship for one and all, without any reservations for the rich and elite. Many craftsmen and artisans contributed voluntarily and on a minimal budget to decorate and beautify the Church.

With a brick red exterior and hints of stone grey, the Church’s exteriors may not strike as spectacular but does have its own antique charm. The architect, Henry Bower Lane was just 25 years old when he designed the Little Trinity Church. An architect of English origin, he is known to have contributed significantly to the Toronto landscape in the mid-19th century.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Paul's Basilica

6) St. Paul's Basilica

Tucked in the quiet neighborhood of Corktown is one of the most stunning churches in the urban landscape of Toronto. Housing the oldest Roman Catholic congregations in Toronto, the St. Paul’s Basilica is a must-see if you admire vintage architecture.

The present structure was built in 1889 and designed by Joseph Connolly, an architect of Irish- Canadian origin best known for his Gothic Revival churches. Connolly was quite a popular choice for Roman Catholic Churches and his designs were greatly inspired by George Ashlin and William Hague, who were then prominent Irish architects. However, the St. Paul’s Basilica was different from Connolly’s other designs. Where most of his churches were inspired by the Gothic style of architecture, the St. Paul’s Basilica models as a stunning example of an Italianate structure. With shades and glimpses of the Renaissance and Neo-classic elements of architecture, the Basilica seems very similar to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

The Basilica boasts a simple yet elegant facade in shades of stone and wood.

However, the true beauty of the structure lies within the church. With an elegantly painted ceiling and walls, elaborately painted stained windows and beautiful sculptures, the Basilica is the perfect example of a 19th century Roman Catholic Church.

Don't forget to turn around and check out the organ up in the balcony loft – a beautiful instrument of praise!
St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church

7) St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church

Standing modestly in the quiet area of Regent Park is the St. Bartholomew Church, known far and wide for being one of the most selfless churches in Toronto. Built in the late 19th century, the St. Bartholomew's Church belongs to the Anglo-Catholic order. Administering to the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of many, the church has earned a reputation as being one of the most altruistic community bodies in Toronto. In fact, the church was one of the few places visited by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, because of its philanthropic reputation. Families and people from all walks of life and from various communities around the world are proud members of this parish.

With a plain and austere facade, the building sticks out as no extraordinary structure. The greyish brown exterior may look simple and dull but the insides of the church are nothing less than magnificent. With a humble altar, the interiors manage to instill a sense of peace and serenity into anyone who walks into the church. The wide design of the interiors is complemented with the wooden ceiling that gives the interiors the warmth and comfort which is much needed after walking the snow clad roads of Toronto.

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