History

We have an extensive collection of St. Anne's memorabilia in the St. Anne's Archives. Our Archivists welcome your interest,
research proposals, and donations.

The First St. Anne's

Parish established in 1865 on 1 acre land grant

Original Church (facing Dufferin) enlarged 3X (parish growth exceeded capacity)

Current church (facing Gladstone) built in 1907

1923 - J.E.H. MacDonald commissioned to decorate the interior

MacDonald enlisted artists from the Ontario College of Arts (total of 10)

3 /10 artist were founding members of the Group of Seven (MacDonald, Carmichael, & Varley)

St. Anne’s contains the only know religious works by the Group of Seven

1980 City of Toronto designates the church under the Ontario Heritage act

1981 Ontario Heritage Trust secured an heritage easement on the building

1996 Church designated a National Historic Site

Canon Lawrence Skey


Byzantine Revival Architecture

In 1905, the Rev. Lawrence Skey took a yearlong sabbatical on a quest to find an architectural style suitable for a new larger St. Anne's Church. He wanted the church to have a significant presence for the working class families whose simple homes now surrounded the small original neo-gothic church. Skey visited Istanbul where the Hagia Sophia church made a great impression on him - its Byzantine structure represented an era in which Christianity had not hardened into the hostile denominations of his day. Upon returning to Toronto, Skey conducted an architectural competition and awarded the contract for the construction of the new church to a young Toronto architect, William Ford Howland (1874-1948). Howland designed the new church in the style known as Byzantine Revival, with a dome and a spacious interior in which everyone would be able to see and hear. After the new church was completed, the old church was demolished and replaced by the parish hall in 1912.


Murals by the Group of Seven

In the early 1920s, the Rev. Lawrence Skey worked through his connections at Toronto's Arts & Letters Club to find suitable decoration for the church interior. In 1923, he commissioned his friend J.E.H. MacDonald to lead the project. MacDonald enlisted fellow students at the Ontario College of Art for a total of ten artists. Three of the ten, MacDonald, Frederick Varley and Franklin Carmichael went on to become members of the Group of Seven, Canada’s iconic movement of impressionist landscape art. MacDonald created small mock-up designs for full-scale murals of the life of Christ. Each artist painted on canvas in their own studio, and the completed murals were then installed in the church. While MacDonald’s design required them to work from a common palette, forms and backgrounds, the artists expressed their individuality in the completed paintings. The St. Anne's murals are the only known religious works of the Group of Seven.

Canon George Young


The Mosaics of St. Anne's

The mosaics of St. Anne's were created by Alex von Svoboda, a Toronto glass artist. Central panel in 1960, and the side panels in 1968. The featured cross and early Christian symbols were modeled on churches in Ravenna, Italy, as presented in video at left, "The Story of the Mosaics."

Gilbert & Sullivan:
The St. Anne's
Music & Drama Society

Almost 60 years of Excellence

In the 1920s, St. Anne’s Choir, 75 strong, was famous for its director’s original operettas of a G & S style. In the 1950s, a West Toronto group performed a few G & S comic operas in our auditorium. Canon George Young brought about a revival of G & S. Fortunately, Clifford Poole and his wife, Margaret Parsons, a famous duo piano team, moved to Toronto in 1963. Clifford had directed many G & S productions at Western University in London. George convinced Clifford and Roy Schatz to assemble a company from the choir and friends. Early in 1964, Trial by Jury was presented with Canon Young as the Jury Foreman. Clifford and Margaret completed the program with a duo piano concert. From 1965 on, Clifford got his wish to have an 18-piece orchestra.

Roy and Diana Schatz were active leaders of MADS for decades. Their daughter, Laura, took over from Roy as artistic director in the early 1990s. With the company now expanded to over 60 in number, three-quarters of the cast and backstage people are friends of St. Anne’s choristers.

Proceeds from the annual productions go to St. Anne’s Church and to improvements of the stage facilities. The joyous atmosphere at rehearsals and performances is a reflection of the mission of this parish.