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Archival Adventures

Researching the history of St. John’s in its Humberside home has been supported by historic materials kept and shared by the Diocese of Toronto Archives, and by the City of Toronto Archives, a few examples of which I’d like to highlight.

With special thanks to Sara McDougall, archivist at the Diocese Archives, among the many documents, clippings, church publications and photos she has kindly scanned and shared, two are of timely interest as the parish conducts its annual Vestry meeting this Sunday.

The first item actually dates from the time of St. John’s second church building on Dundas St. West & St. John’s Road. It is a copy of “St. John’s Church, West Toronto Monthly Magazine” dated April 1911. This beautiful magazine is timely as it includes St. John’s Vestry Report for 1910. Highlighted here are the cover and first page, but as you read through the full magazine, you’ll notice lots of advertisements, and that most of the content was provided by the Church of England in a package titled “Home Words.”

The second item from the Diocese Archives is a copy of St. John’s “Parish Report, 1962,” which was presented at the Vestry meeting exactly 60 years ago. Highlighted here is the first page of the Rector’s Report by Rev. G.W. Philpotts, who led the church during 1960-64.

The full Report is available here: St. John’s Parish Report - 1962

A recent trip to the City of Toronto Archives in search of the architect who designed St. John’s current church led, rather circuitously, due to an error in a building permits index, to finding original blueprints dated February 1923. Each of the blueprints also indicated “Gordon & Helliwell, Architects,” a prolific team responsible for nearly two hundred commercial, institutional, ecclesiastical, and residential buildings in Ontario, Manitoba and as far west as British Columbia between 1878 and 1938. After carefully unrolling the blueprints, I was able to get some photos, two of which are highlighted, including the original main floor plan.


Originally published in St. John's Newsletter on March 4th, 2023

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