The Project


This project began ten years ago with a casual walk through our neighbourhood. What struck us at the time was how faithfully places of worship reflected Toronto’s evolving diversity. Some of these buildings were no doubt more imposing, some more evocative of the sublime than others. Taken together, however, they testified to the great variety of religious traditions and experiences within the city. They also underlined the many ethnic and racial origins of the people who frequented them. In combination, religion and ethnicity offered us a dizzying array of unsuspected permutations.

And yet one hundred years ago, Toronto was almost uniformly British and mainstream Protestant. All that changed irrevocably with the arrival of non-British immigrants. Before the First and especially after the Second World War they came from continental Europe. Since the late 1960s they have come mostly from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Places of worship are markers of this transformation. They speak to what the city once was and what it has become.

Our field of inquiry began to broaden beyond our immediate vicinity to encompass the whole west-end of the old city of Toronto. The area combines neighbourhoods of traditional immigrant reception and settlement with those historically inhabited by working- and middle-class residents of British origin (whether immigrant or not). It is therefore diverse from a class, ethnic, and religious perspective. For two years we walked the streets of these wonderfully distinctive neighbourhoods, recording and photographing places of worship, taking note as well of significant details and changes. We then conducted in-depth research in the city’s archives and libraries.

Our efforts produced the current survey which includes all buildings, whether initially built as places of worship or not, as long as an outside sign identifies them as being dedicated to public worship. Although completed eight years ago, the survey is up to date in the sense that all recent changes to existing sites have been recorded. For example, structures that have been demolished, have changed religious affiliation or ceased to be places of worship, are identified. We welcome comments, additional information, and corrections from visitors to our website. Please click here to fill out the form that can then be sent to us at:

This work was made possible through a generous grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, to which we express our heartfelt thanks.