Formally, the Holy Trinity parish is from Jarvis Street between Carlton and Queen streets in the east, to University between College and Queen streets in the west, and north-to-south between Carlton/College and Queen. This densely developed area in the heart of Canada’s largest city includes retail interests (particularly the Eaton Centre), a significant tourist zone (Yonge and Dundas), the centre of the city’s government (at City Hall) as well as the fast-growing Ryerson University. A large number of Toronto’s hospitals are also within the congregational boundaries.
Trinity Square and the church itself are gathering spots for many people who are living on the street or who are poorly housed in the inner city.
The central location, flexible space, history of engagement with City Hall, and commitment to social justice have made Holy Trinity a consistent choice for annual ecumenical justice gatherings, such as the Good Friday ecumenical walk, or for other civil society or community meetings or workshops in response to issues or events.
The parish has responsibilities for three historically designated (mid-19th century) brick buildings situated within Trinity Square in downtown Toronto. We are increasingly trying to see our property as a more coherent “campus” and less as individual buildings. We are undertaking projects to better connect them in various ways, including digitally.
#19 Trinity Square- The Church of the Holy Trinity
The Church sits on land owned by the Anglican Diocese and is surrounded by City of Toronto parkland. It is a heritage designated building, boasting a large open nave and sanctuary, a chapel studio, a small cafe, balcony and a large Cassavant organ. A fire in 1977 damaged the original ceiling and south windows. In 1989, the interior walls of the church, painted in the nineteenth century, and the organ were restored.
The nave of the church functions as the parish hall. Though further improvements are in process, the Church has a modern sound system and is mostly accessible. Stage lighting is being explored. With moveable pews, the space is flexible and can be set up for wedding receptions, dances, meetings or concerts. It is a beautiful space and it is well used throughout the year.
There is a lovely old chapel space on the second floor over the cafe which can be used for smaller gatherings and concerts or a “green room” for bigger events. Unfortunately, this part of the church is not accessible.
The Church structure is under quite a bit of strain and requires ongoing attention. Due to a tunnel that is adjacent to the northwest end of the building and its use for heavy truck traffic delivering goods to the Eaton Centre as well as newer commercial enterprises on Dundas and Bay Streets, our northwest tower has been impacted, causing structural damage to the Church. At present, the tower has been stabilized and we are seeking further remedy.
There is opportunity for an even more active program of concerts, retreats, community choirs, or other accessible events, as well as greater use of the space for marking life transitions (e.g., funerals and weddings). This offers the opportunity to further build local relationships, attract new members and generate income from sources beyond donations.
#10 Trinity Square (Old Rectory) – Church offices and the Distress Centre
Once the Rectory, #10 sits on land leased from the City of Toronto until 2083. Office rentals to charitable organizations deemed tax exempt by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) are permitted in this building; consequently, this building is tax free. It currently holds our offices, multipurpose rooms, and two tenants–Maggies and FLAP Avian Death Prevention.
#6 Trinity Square (Scadding House)
Originally the home of our first Rector, Henry Scadding, #6 also sits on land leased until 2083. This heritage building, which has had no upgrading other than cosmetic, has been the subject of initial discussion with the Diocese about its future. There have been discussions of using it as a centre of renewal and reconciliation. The idea is being actively explored and has support in the congregation.
This building currently houses the offices of Toronto Urban Native Ministry, San Esteban, and Rittenhouse Restorative Justice. Expanding tenancy in #6 could centre around a model of co-working use of its second floor by several socially focused organizations with an interest in building partnerships with us and each other.
With both interior and exterior stairs, neither #10 nor #6 is accessible. The cost and difficulty of adding an elevator in either building is prohibitive.
Parking on Trinity Square is limited to those needing wheelchair access or, by arrangement, those making deliveries.
The Church of the Holy Trinity represents a strong contrast to many of the buildings around it, not simply through its heritage buildings but by offering a kind of spiritual oasis in the midst of the busiest and most commercial part of Toronto.