Today I visited Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Toronto...both of them. Both built for the same reason only years apart. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
Toronto, then called York, had a Anglican Church called St. James. Anglican is basically the Church of England outside of Great Britain. The church was rebuilt several times to accommodate the growing number of English settlers.
Even before the Irish Famine that started in 1845 with the potato blight, Irish immigrants were pouring into Toronto just to escape the horrid poverty. By 1851, at the peak of the Famine, the Irish made up the largest ethnic group in Toronto. Most settled in a neighborhood called Corktown. It was in this neighborhood that the first Catholic church in Toronto, St. Paul’s, was built in 1841.
However the majority of Irish in Toronto weren’t Catholic, but Protestants--Orange Men with the Church of England. They had St. James--or did they? At the time St. James rented their pews. It was a common practice of the time to collect money to run the church. What it meant was the rich sat up front, the middle class sat behind them and the poor--well, they either sat in the very back or stood. The Irish Protestants were the poorest of the congregation.
|Original Holy Trinity in Corktown|
Meanwhile a certain Mary Lambert Swale of Settle, England must have heard of the plight of Toronto’s working class. Knowing she was dieing , she made a will, leaving 5,000 pounds sterling to the Toronto Diocese to build a church. The stipulations were that it had to be Gothic design, the pews were to always be free, that the pulpit not be placed as to obstruct the view of patrons, and that the church be named Holy Trinity.
|Mary Lambert Swale's Holy Trinity Church|
Little Trinity’s congregation has grown and the church was expanded in 1889 to add 600 more seats! They has been sending missionaries around the world.
|Holy Trinity in the future|