Friday 8 May 2015

Hail Virgin, dearest Mary! Our lovely Queen of May!

In May, Catholics take the time to honour St. Mary. While devotion to Mary is popular year-round, many parishes organize special events in her name during this month.

Here in the Archives, we decided to celebrate Mary by highlighting some of the parishes named in her honour. It is clear that Mary is a popular saint within the Archdiocese of Toronto, as there are twelve churches named for her, and that doesn't even count the churches dedicated to 'Our Lady!'

If you would like to see each church as it appears today, the linked addresses listed below will take you to Google Streetview. It is fun to see how the churches have changed, as well as the neighbourhoods around them.

St. Mary's Church, Toronto, 1914
St. Mary's, the third parish in Toronto, was established in 1852. It is located at 588 Adelaide St. W. The land was originally part of a military training ground called Garrison Reserve. A parcel was granted to Bishop Macdonell with his promise that there would be seats for Catholic soldiers. The land was described as being on Lake Ontario because there were no other buildings between it and the water. The present church is the third located on that site, having been built between 1885 and 1889.

St. Mary's Church, Barrie, 1963 & 1973
PH102/0128/28P, PH102/0128/35CP

The pastoral needs of early Catholic settlers in the Barrie area were provided for first by missionary priests, and then by priests from parishes in Penetanguishene and Newmarket. Sacraments were performed in private homes. In the late 1830s, land for a church was granted to the Catholic community at the corner of McDonald and Mulcaster streets. By 1850, the first church was blessed. In 1855, a pastor was appointed specifically to Barrie, and St Mary's became its own parish. A second church was completed in 1872. In 1968, construction began on the current St. Mary's Church at 65 Amelia St. (above right). It was blessed on May 26, 1969.

St. Mary's Parish, Brampton

St. Mary's Church, Brampton, [1910-1964] & 1974
PH102/0135/01P, PH102/0135/04CP

Catholics in Brampton were originally served by priests from nearby parishes. The first church in the area was Guardian Angels Mission Church, which was destroyed by arson in 1878. A Presbyterian church was purchased and used until 1910, when a new church named St. Mary's was completed. In 1918 St. Mary's was established as a parish. A bigger church, located at 66 Main St. S., was blessed for the growing Catholic population by Cardinal McGuigan on December 13, 1964.

St. Mary's Parish, Collingwood

St. Mary's Church, Collingwood, 1963

Catholics in Collingwood were originally part of the Mission of Barrie. By 1859, there were enough Catholics in the area to purchase a church from an Anglican congregation. In 1886, Collingwood was established as a parish, and a new church was completed in 1888 at 63 Elgin St.

St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish, Mississauga

St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, Mississauga, 19 April 1953

The earliest masses in the Port Credit area were said in private homes. In 1880, St. Mary's Church was built as a mission of St. Patrick's, Dixie. By 1914, there were enough Catholics in the area to establish St. Mary's as a parish. As the Catholic population grew, the need for a new church became apparent. The current St. Mary's was built at 11 Peter St. S., and was blessed on April 19, 1953 by Cardinal McGuigan.

St. Mary of the People Parish, Oshawa

St. Mary of the People Church, Oshawa, 1973
PH 102/0168/07CP

With the expansion of industry in Oshawa in the early 1950s, the Catholic population of the city increased. A new parish was established in 1957 to meet the growing need. The first mass was held in St. Christopher school. A new church was completed at 570 Marion Ave. and was blessed on January 16, 1966 by Archbishop Pocock.

St. Mary Immaculate Parish, Richmond Hill

St. Mary Immaculate Church, Richmond Hill, 1963 & 1973
PH102/0178/30P, PH102/34CP

The first St. Mary's in Richmond Hill was built on Mill St. in 1857 as a mission of St. John Chrysostom, Newmarket. In 1894, a new church was built at 10295 Yonge St. In 1918, St. Mary's was established as a parish. The population explosion of the 1950s necessitated a new church, and the present St. Mary Immaculate Church was dedicated on July 28, 1968 by Apostolic Delegate to Canada Most Reverend Emanuele Clarizio.

St Mary's Polish Parish, Toronto

St. Mary's Polish Church, Toronto, 1981

St. Mary's Polish Parish was established in 1914 when members of the Polish population began to move into West Toronto. They were able to build a church in 1915 at 1996 Davenport Rd.

St. Mary of the Angels Parish, Toronto

St. Mary of the Angels Church, Toronto, 1963

St. Mary of the Angels Parish was built from a need to relieve some of the pressure from St. Clement's Parish, which was overflowing with a growing Italian population. The task of building the new church was given to a Franciscan priest, Fr. Settimio Balo. The cornerstone was laid at 1481 Dufferin St., and the building was blessed by Cardinal McGuigan on June 20, 1937.

St. Mary's Parish, Victoria Harbour

St. Mary's Church, Victoria Harbour, 1963

The original St. Mary's was built as a mission of St. Margaret's Midland in 1882 on William St. It was established as its own parish in 1919. The church was destroyed by fire in the 1930s, and the present church was built at 266 Albert St. shortly after.

St. Mary's Mission, Nobleton

St. Mary's Church, Nobleton, 1963

With the influx of Irish immigrants in the mid 1800s, the need for churches in York County increased. St. Mary's was established as a mission of St. Patrick's, Schomberg in 1855. The first mass was held at the church on the Tenth Line on September 23.

St. Mary's Mission, Achill

St. Mary's Mission Church, Achill, 1963

St. Mary's was established as a mission of St. James Parish, Colgan in 1875. In 1892, the original frame church was destroyed by fire. A new church, located at 2458 4th Line of Adjala, was dedicated by Very Reverend Joseph McCann, Vicar General of the Archdiocese.

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