cornerstone

Our History

Grace Church, the 15th Anglican Church in the City of Toronto, was established on September 17, 1874. Initially, services were held in a small rented frame building on Elizabeth Street until the original church was built on the south side of Elm Street between Bay and Elizabeth. The cornerstone was laid in 1875, and the church formally opened on January 2, 1876.

Over time, the area surrounding the church drew in more businesses, and it was decided that the church should relocate. After much deliberation in 1911, property on the northwest corner of Russell Hill Road and Lonsdale Road, was purchased from Lawrence Baldwin. In early December 1911, the first services were held in Grace Church in the old frame building of Christ Church, Deer Park, which had been purchased for $300 and pulled by horses along Lonsdale from Yonge Street to Russell Hill. The organ, altar, font, and pulpit were transferred from Elm Street. The same font now sits just inside the main doors of the church and is used regularly for all baptisms.

The turning of the first sod for the building of a church and rectory, designed by Eden Smith, took place in May, 1912. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada, officiated at the ceremony. The silver spade that he used to turn the sod is among the treasures held in the parish archives. On December 7, 1912, the cornerstone was laid, together with the cornerstone of Grace Church, Elm Street, and other memorabilia of the time.

The rectory was completed the following September, and the opening services of the church were held on December 21, 1913. In 1923 the construction of the Parish Hall, a large auditorium with gymnasium below, was completed, as well as vestries on the north side of the chancel. It was not until 1938, however, that the original Eden Smith design was completed, with a chapel on the south side. The two-story addition to the west, originally built as the Christian Education Centre in 1955, now houses offices, meeting rooms, and the Child Care Centre.

Renovations to the nave and chancel of the church were undertaken in 1997, enlarging the chancel and adding a crossing Communion table and new choir pews. A number of the original Arts and Crafts pews were kept, with their distinctive crosses on either side.

In the original baptistry area of the church is a Columbarium, a sanctuary for the cremated remains of individuals and families. Constructed in 2001, it comprises 216 marble niches with engraved bronze face plaques, each niche capable of accommodating one or two interments.

The church is built of grey Credit Valley limestone with Indiana limestone trim, and the pews are all oak.