Our Historical Neighbourhood: St. James Cathedral

Job sites - St. James sculpture garden.. - 1978-1979

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is so much history and heritage, and we love to dig deep into what things used to be like here many years ago. Our area is home to a lot of special buildings, one of the earliest being St. James Cathedral. There is so much to admire about this building and there is nothing we love more than strolling through St. James Park and taking in the beautiful exterior of the Cathedral.

You’d never believe it, but for about 25 years St. James Cathedral was the tallest structure in Canada! Construction on this building began in 1850 after the Great Fire of 1849 destroyed the church that was previously on the site. When John Graves first laid out plans for the Town of York (the original “Toronto”) in 1793, he actually set aside this land for a church to be built on, which has been its only purpose since – over two centuries!

When the city was looking to rebuild on the site after the Great Fire, an international competition was held to choose a new design. This was Toronto’s first architectural competition! Frederic Cumberland, an engineer and architect, was the winner and his design is what we see today. Construction on St. James Cathedral began in 1850 and the building opened three years later, however it didn’t have its notable tower and pinnacles yet. Funds were tight during this time, so it wasn’t until 1875 that they were added and the Cathedral was finally considered complete.

This beautiful Cathedral stands at the corner of King Street East and Church Street and has long been deemed a heritage site in Toronto. Next time you’re in the neighbourhood, pay this historical building a visit – we promise you won’t regret it!



Job sites - lighting, buildings, streetscapes.. - 1978-1978 Job sites - St. James sculpture garden.. - 1978-1979 Aerial views of Port Industrial areas. - 1970-1994  Buildings - churches, hotels, City Hall. - 1843-1992, predominant 1952-1992


All images via City of Toronto Archives

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