A Brief History (1829 to present)

Yorkminster Park

Park Road Baptist Church was founded in 1922 and a new church was constructed on the corner of Park Road and Asquith Avenue in 1927. The architects for that Church were J. Francis Brown and Son of Toronto. The Church was well known in the Bloor and Yonge area especially for its excellent music program. Unfortunately a fire in March 1961 destroyed a large part of the Church House and left the sanctuary with minor structural damage. As the neighbourhood was rapidly changing with the arrival of office buildings, due consideration was given to repairing the damaged structure and selling the property, or uniting with the Yorkminster congregation. The decision to unite with Yorkminster was made and the first business meeting of the combined congregations took place in October 1961. The congregation was renamed Yorkminster Park Baptist Church. (The park surrounding the church has nothing to do with its name). Following this union the senior ministers of both churches resigned and a John Gladstone was called to lead the new congregation.

The architecture of the interior remains largely unchanged since its construction. In 1967 the church interior was refurbished to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. The Communion table and clergy chairs have been added, the carpet and lighting renewed, and the cross above the Baptistry given special lighting. The Centennial Chapel (designed by Brown Brisley and Brown Architects of Toronto) was opened in the south transept in 1967.

The Casavant Freres organ was donated to the church in 1928 by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Matthews, and remains one of the finest church and recital instruments in Canada. The instrument was rebuilt and tonally improved in 1965 to include 73 stops and 5306 pipes. Further additions were made in 1971 and a new console installed in 1975. The organ now consists of 90 stops and 5731 pipes. The organ chamber housing the pipes is the largest in the city, and is one of the few in Toronto that can be seen by the public. In 1933 the first “Carols by Candlelight” concert of Christmas music was presented in Toronto at Yorkminster; and the choral service has become a longstanding tradition in the city. The choir enjoys an outstanding reputation for the quality of its singing.

Since W.A. Cameron the church has had six other senior ministers; Emlyn Davies (1951-1962), Murray Ford (1961-1962), John Gladstone (1965-1991), Kerr Speirs (1991-1999), and our current minister, Peter Holmes (2001-present).