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Religious Heart of Toronto 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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Religious Heart of Toronto Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Religious Heart of Toronto Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Toronto (See other walking tours in Toronto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Trinity Square
  • 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
Trinity Square

1) Trinity Square (must see)

The Trinity Square located in downtown Toronto and is accessed via James Street or by walkways from Bay Street and Dundas Street. It is surrounded by the Eaton Center, Bell Trinity Square and Marriott Downtown Eaton Center Hotel. 

The owner of the site of the Square, John Simcoe Macaulay sold the site in 1845 and made way for the construction of the Church of the Holy Trinity, which stands even today as the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity. The area around the Church was called Eaton's Annex and was home to a 10-floor house furnishing building constructed in 1919. The building was brought down by the fire of 1970 and the original design for construction of the Eaton Center threatened the existence of the Church too. Successful protests then changed the original design of the Eaton Center to the way it stands on the site today.

The Square is decorated with granite, concrete blocks and trees planted along the walkways. The Toronto Public Labyrinth is adjacent to the Church and is constructed on similar lines as the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. An artificial stream flows alongside the walkway to Bay Street where two lanterns rest of large blue columns and act as an entrance to the Square.

Why You Should Visit:
Oasis in the heart of the city; a great place to relax downtown.

The Old City Hall is located just south of the Square and also deserves a visit.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of the Holy Trinity

2) Church of the Holy Trinity

Standing poignantly at the Trinity Square, the Church of the Holy Trinity welcomes all, from every walk of life and every segment of society. With a history of upholding charity, reaching to the needy and poor, the philosophy of the Church of bringing traditional faith to today’s issues is taken seriously now as ever. With a congregation of people representing all strata of society, the Church has built a reputation of changing with time and welcoming every individual with open arms.

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, who supported the cause.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Michael's Cathedral

3) St. Michael's Cathedral (must see)

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

This overpowering structure demands the attention of any passer-by, with its robust Neo-Gothic architecture and linear, geometric patterns. Although the exterior may be quite overwhelming and severe, the interior of the Cathedral comes as a total surprise. Balancing its exacting exterior, the insides of the Cathedral are dabbed with color, grandeur and gentle elegance. Unlike many cathedrals and churches in Toronto built in Gothic Revival (where the Gothic style is tweaked to fit modern times), St. Michael's Cathedral sticks to the classic Gothic style of architecture. Portraying rich stained glass painted 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 designs and the vintage architectural landscape in Canada.

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

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

This is a great place to attend mass especially when the St. Michael's Choir is singing.

Mass/confession times:
Metropolitan United Church

4) 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

5) St. James Anglican Cathedral

One of the most enthralling churches in Toronto is the St. James Cathedral. Not only does the facade of the Church make it captivating but it is also the story that comes along with the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is home to the oldest congregation in the city of Toronto, which was established in 1797. Apart from that, the St. James Cathedral also serves as the spiritual center of the St. Lawrence neighborhood. One of the most treasured heritage sites in Toronto; the Cathedral also serves as the episcopal seat of the Anglican Church of Canada's Diocese of Toronto.

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

6) 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

7) St. Paul's Basilica (must see)

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

8) 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 instil 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.

Walking Tours in Toronto, Canada

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles

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