Home to one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations in Canada, St. Andrew’s was founded in 1830 in connection with the “Mother Church of Scotland”. It was first located at the southwest corner of Church and Adelaide Streets but this building was abandoned when it became too small for the expanding congregation.
The present building was opened for worship in 1876 and is built in the Romanesque Revival style. At that time the King and Simcoe Streets location was a busy place and most of the congregation lived within easy walking distance of the church. Across the street stood Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Upper Canada College stood on a second corner and on a third was a popular tavern. With St. Andrew’s, the four corners were known locally as Legislation, Education, Damnation and Salvation!!
Of particular interest may be the Gallery Organ and choir loft. In 1852 St. Andrew’s was the first Presbyterian church in Canada to introduce organ music – and at the time this was quite a controversial decision! Hard to believe today with Music at St. Andrew’s being such an integral part of both worship and outreach.
We have many beautiful stained glass windows, with the 48th Highlanders window being one of the most unique in Canada. Dedicated in 1937 it reflects St. Andrew’s long history with the 48th Highlanders, a regiment founded in 1891. Did you know that their museum, which includes one of the original Vimy Ridge crosses, is located in the basement of the church and is open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays?
By the middle of the 20th century, life had become hard for St. Andrew’s. Increasing numbers of people were moving to the suburbs and the downtown core of Toronto was giving way to offices and warehouses. Many times the congregation considered leaving its downtown location for more promising parts of the city, but each time the congregation decided that St. Andrew’s witness belonged at King and Simcoe Streets.
The rebirth of downtown Toronto as a place to live in the 1970’s confirmed that St. Andrew’s decision to stay was right. While it is surrounded by the towers of financial institutions, hotels, theatres, concert halls, the Rogers Centre and the Convention Centre, there are also many people in new apartments and condos—and many homeless needing food and shelter. Once again St. Andrew’s is taking its place in ministry to a growing city.
The Church doors are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday and self-directed tour brochures are available so we encourage everyone to come and visit.
Self-directed Tour Brochures are available at the entrance
A Virtual Tour can be reached here.