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Weekend fire destroys historic Canadian church building

St. Anne Anglican Church, Toronto, March 2009. Wikimedia Commons/Photo by SimonP (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Weekend fire destroys historic Canadian church building

Firefighters on Sunday morning battled a fire at St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto but could not save the national historic site. The fire completely destroyed the building, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop told reporters. Police and fire officials are still investigating what caused the fire. The police department has opened an online portal where the public can submit photos or other information about the incident.

In a note posted to the church’s website, church priest and pastor Don Beyers said he was working with other leaders in the diocese to establish a temporary meeting place until the church is rebuilt. “Yesterday’s fire was not the end of the story, but rather the start of a new chapter,” he wrote.

When was the church built? The Anglican church established the congregation in 1862 in what was then the village of Brockton and is now the Little Portugal neighborhood in Toronto. In 1907, the congregation hired an architect to build the church in the Byzantine Revival style. It was completed in 1908.

What about the art inside? Beyers said the fire destroyed paintings by three of Canada’s well-known Group of Seven artists. The paintings were installed in the church in the 1920s. Seven Canadian landscape painters founded the group in 1920 and are some of the most well-known Canadian artists of the early 20th century. In 1923, then-Rev. Lawrence Skey commissioned three of the artists to compose murals depicting the life of Christ.

Dig deeper: Read Sharon Dierberger’s report in WORLD Magazine about a series of church burnings in Canada.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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