A Brief History (1829 to present)

W.A. Cameron

In 1908 W.A. Cameron (1882-1956) became the senior minister of the congregation. Under his leadership the Church expanded rapidly, and by the 1920s was too large for the Bloor Street building. From 1920 to 1928 the evening services were held in the Uptown Theatre at Yonge and Bloor Streets, where up to 3000 people were known to attend. Cameron was a dynamic speaker and was well known in Toronto as a radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist in the Toronto Telegram.

The decision to move from Bloor Street to the northern suburbs of St. Clair and Yonge was a momentous one. The growing congregation needed space that was no longer available on Bloor, and the street was loosing its residential character as the city moved northwards. St. Clair was rapidly developing as a residential area and the open land on which the church was constructed was still relatively affordable. The building was designed in 1927 and under construction that year. On 25 March 1928 this Sanctuary was formally opened and dedicated as Yorkminster Baptist Church. Yorkminster because it suggested a link with the old Yorkville days, and appealed to W.A. Cameron who loved the Cathedral of York (England) and wished to honour its history (a stone from the Minster is build into the interior wall of the belfry).

The new Church was designed in the Gothic revival style by the architectural firm of George Moorehouse and King (Toronto), and is built of Owen Sound limestone walls supporting a steel trussed roof structure. This concession to modern building techniques explains the remarkable width of the nave. The stone winder tracery is carved from Indiana limestone. The immense nave, with seating unobstructed by columns, can seat 1200 worshipers and a further 500 in the north transept and rear galleries. The three large “windows” over the baptistery on the east wall, screen the great pipe organ. With the largest organ chamber of any in the city, it is one of the finest in the city of Toronto.

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