Friday 16 December 2016

The Archdiocese of Toronto: Celebrating 175 Years of Faithful Service

On Saturday, December 17, 2016, the Archdiocese of Toronto will reach 175 years of existence. This incredible milestone will be celebrated throughout the coming year. Read this media release for more information, and check the Archdiocese of Toronto website often for upcoming events.

The Diocese of Toronto was erected and its first bishop Michael Power was named by two briefs issued by Pope Gregory XVI on December 17, 1841.

Brief of Pope Gregory XVI to the Most Rev. Michael Power appointing him the bishop of the new See of Upper Canada.

P RC23.01
Bishop Power Fonds

Brief of Pope Gregory XVI erecting a new See in Upper Canada and allowing Michael Power to choose the episcopal city.

 P RC23.02
Bishop Power Fonds

In honour of this significant anniversary, we thought a compare-and-contrast exercise might be in order.

Popes Then and Now:
1841: Pope Gregory XVI

Painting by Paul Delaroche, 1843
via Wikimedia Commons  

Pope Francis Celebrates Concluding Mass in Philly, September 27, 2015

Photo by Jeffrey Bruno is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

(Arch)Diocesan Boundaries Then and Now:


Bishop Power described the original boundaries of the diocese in his first Pastoral Letter dated May 8, 1842. The full letter is posted on the Our Faith Alive blog.

"The Diocess [sic.] of Toronto comprehends all that part of the former Province of Upper Canada or diocess [sic.] of Kingston to the west of the district of Newcastle, following, from Lake Ontario, the line which separates the Newcastle district from the Home district to lake Muskogo and then drawing a line in a north westerly direction thro' the Muskogo and Moon rivers and lakes to the mouth of the more westerly branch of the Two rivers" which empties itself into the Grand or Ottawa River."

Bishop Power Fonds, P AA06.01

Upper Canada, 1838. The line between the Diocese of Kingston and the Diocese of Toronto followed the line between the Home District and Newcastle District.

From the Economic Atlas of Ontario, 1969
As posted by the Archives of Ontario


The Archdiocese of Toronto stretches from the shores of Lake Ontario north to Georgian Bay covering a total of around 13,000 square kilometres. The current boundaries include the City of Toronto, the regional municipalities of Peel, York and Durham, as well as Simcoe County, and a portion of Dufferin County.

From the Archdiocese of Toronto Website.

Stats Then and Now:


Catholic Population



Number of Parishes



Number of Priests



A lot has changed in 175 years. The boundaries of the Archdiocese have gotten considerably smaller, while the Catholic population has increased exponentially. Mass was originally said in one language (Latin), and now more than 30 languages are used at 1,000 Masses per week. From Muddy York to the GTA, from the Home District to the Golden Horseshoe and beyond, we've come a long way.

Happy Anniversary, Archdiocese of Toronto! We can only imagine what changes, challenges and triumphs you will witness over the next 175 years.

For further information and insights, please see the historical timeline of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

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