Apr 26, 2019
By Christine Ross
Toronto’s St. James Cathedral shares a tragic history with Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Both Gothic style historic structures have survived devastating fires. As worshipers in Paris gathered to sing hymns outside as the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral burned, church leaders from Toronto’s St. James watched with a sense of remembrance. Just as Notre Dame is viewed as the jewel of medieval Gothic architecture, St. James is Toronto’s own historic Gothic architecture. It’s the oldest congregation in Toronto, but much younger than Notre Dame at 222 years. St James Vicar Louise Peters is one of many church leaders sending messages of hope and solidarity to Paris and says St. James serves as proof that recovery and rebirth is possible. The Ontario Heritage Property was destroyed by fire in 1839 and again in the Great Fire of Toronto ins 1849. Archivist Nancy Mallett who is almost 90, possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the church that sits steps from the city’s business and entertainment districts. She says the only item to survive the 1849 fire was a baptismal font, build just the year prior. Mallett points out that while St. James isn’t the biggest church in Toronto, it’s where people gather in grief like they did after September 911. Listen to my report here.