Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

First day in Canada and St Thomas’s Church, Toronto – 13 September 2015

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Our first full day in Ontario, and the heavy rain that greeted us had gone, although it was still wet in the morning clearing in the afternoon.

Being Sunday, we decided that going to church would be part of our first day, and having researched the various churches, local to our hotel in Mississauga and in Toronto, an entry on the facebook group [Choral Evensong Appreciation Society] regarding a service at St Thomas’s Anglican Church on Huron Street in Toronto caught our attention.

This gave us the late morning and early afternoon to decide what to do, whilst adjusting to the five hour time difference, so we visited the local shopping mall. One of the things we wanted to do was get a canadian SIM card for the mobile phone. Given the cost of using a UK mobile phone in Canada, this was the much cheaper option. After getting lack of co-operation from the Rogers store and two other mobile phone shops, Walmart turned out to be the best bet. We got a SIM card from Fido (part of the Rogers group). After lunch in the food court and a few more purchases, including up-to-date road atlas for Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe, we headed back to our hotel.

Before leaving the UK we had considered driving into Toronto each day, however when considering our trip to St Thomas’s Church we realised that taking the train would be a better idea. Go Transit trains normally consist of 10 coach double deck carriages operated in push-pull mode with the locomotive at the east end of the train. However, we observed a few formations with locomotives at both ends.

GO Trains at Port Credit

GO Trains at Port Credit
13 September 2015

On arrival at Toronto Union station we changed on the the TTC Metro system getting a train to Spadina, the nearest to St Thomas’s.

The parish of St Thomas was established in 1874 in what was a village called Seaton, north of Bloor Street. The 1874 building was cut in two and moved to the current Huron Street site a year later. The extant building was constructed in late 1892, being consecrated in January 1893. In 1917 the chancel was extended by 24 feet and between 1919 and 1922 the current baptistry was constructed. There are several pieces of wood carving from Oberammergau in 1911.

Chancel and High Altar from the Nave

Chancel and High Altar from the Nave.
13 September 2015

Choral Evensong was at 19:00 (7pm). The music was:
Voluntary: Prelude on Rhosymedre (R. Vaughan Williams)
Motet (sung from the west end): O taste and See (R. Vaughan Williams)
Processional Hymn: All People that on Earth do dwell [Tune: Old 100th]
Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A (H. Sumsion)
Offertory Hymn: Praise the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation [Tune: Lobe Den Herren]
Anthem: I was Glad (C.H.H. Parry)
Canticle: Te Deum in G (R. Vaughan Williams)
Voluntary: Crown Imperial March (W. Walton)

The service was from the Canadian Book of Common Prayer and was celebrated as Solemn Evensong. We noted some parts of the liturgy that were were unusual to us. Firstly, there was no psalm. During the sensing of the altar and people with the thurble during the Magnificat, a thurifer presented the the officiant at the High Altar, however a second thurifer censed the three vested in copes in the Sanctury. When the original thurifer got to the choir, they turned away from conductor and bowed to the thurifer, firstly cantoris and secondly decani. Also during the Te Deum, towards the end everyone, including the choir, knelt for several verses. Finally, although choir and clergy entered in one procession with cross and lights. The altar party left via a door in the chancel with the cross and lights. A different crucifer, not previously seen during the service, then appeared with a plain processional cross to lead the choir out through a door at the south side by the organ.

High Altar and Reredos

High Altar and Reredos
13 September 2015

The Reredos was first installed in 1906/07. In the 1940s it was enhanced with the addition of nine statues, with St Thomas in the centre.

Lady Chapel

Lady Chapel
13 September 2015

Canopy over the altar of the Lady Chapel.

Canopy over the altar of the Lady Chapel.
13 September 2015

On the north side there is the Lady Chapel, which had the canopy added in the early 1920s.


13 September 2015

The baptistry was added between 1919 and 1922 as a memorial to the parishioners who had died in World War I.

Finally we found our way to St Thomas’s using detail from their web site. Once inside, apart from being given an order of service, we were not welcomed by anyone. No-one asked us if it was our first time at the church or did anything to make us welcome. There was a supper being held in the hall after the service for those who had attended, and there was no invitation to join the gathering.

We left and headed back to Port Credit and our car via the TTC and GO Transit.

Author: Stewart

An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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