Seventy-two years ago the young families of North Leaside needed an Anglican church in their neighbourhood. Our community was growing quickly and people of St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, on Bayview Avenue in South Leaside, realized the exploding post-war population in the Sunnybrook area would need another church to cope with the increasing spiritual demands. Thus, our church was born as St. Cuthbert’s Northlea Mission, and in 1946 became the Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury.
In 1948 a modest basement was built at the corner of Bayview and Broadway avenues as the starting point and foundation of our future church. Due to the high cost of building, significant fundraising was required to complete the structure. Through the great enthusiasm and energy of residents of North Leaside and the surrounding area, several successful fundraising campaigns led to the completion of the attractive new building in 1958. (Read about our building in Leaside Life.)
It had a bell tower, a large chancel with a balcony, and beautiful wooden pews that could seat several hundred worshippers, as well as Sunday-School rooms for the children. There were fine wooden interior fittings such as an altar and pulpit with exceptional symbolic carvings. Over the years additional fittings and lovely stained-glass windows were installed and dedicated to our early parishioner families.
Gradually there were changes. Children grew up and left the neighbourhood. The congregation began to dwindle as parishioners no longer attended services or passed away. These changes presented both great challenges and great opportunities.
After much consultation we decided to change the layout of the worship space and replaced our traditional pews with new upholstered chairs. Not only comfortable, the chairs can be arranged in any configuration to allow the space to be used in many different ways for weddings, funerals, and other special services. The communion rail was removed, and the altar (also movable) is set in the centre of the chancel – we now celebrate communion in an open circle around the altar like a large family.
We can easily reconfigure the space for events such as our Fall Sale, the Groove Room coffee house, and concerts (recent piano and jazz performances have been popular). With a portable ramp, a stair lift, and an accessible washroom, we can welcome many visitors.