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The Chapel of St. James-the-Less: A National Historic Site


John G. Howard, who ranks as one of Toronto’s great contributors to early development in architecture, planning and engineering, prepared the layout for St. James’ Cemetery over a hundred and fifty years ago in 1842. In his picturesque plan he reserved the finest building site for a "mortuary chapel" on a knoll near the southwest corner of the cemetery property.

 The architectural firm of Cumberland and Storm, was selected to prepare plans for the Chapel at a meeting at St. James’ Cathedral on April 27, 1857. Construction was in progress by July 1859. The structure is comprised of Georgetown stone and "white" brick with Ohio stone trim.

Cumberland and Storm created an architectural gem in this rough cut stone chapel with its steeply pitched roof, deep caves and low sidewalls, protective entrance porch, monumental bell tower and broad spire rising gracefully above the chapel nave. The chapel interior is equally attractive with sensitive yet bold detailing. The deep-set trefoil side windows glazed in fine stained glass, the heavy timbered roof structure traced with light coming from triangular dormers, the wood paneling and the stained glass chancel windows are all skillfully treated. The Chapel of St. James-the-Less is an important part of our Canadian cultural heritage and is unquestionably one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival church architecture in Canada. Historically St. James’ Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries still operating in central Toronto. The cemetery was opened in July of 1844. At that time most of the city’s population of 18,000 lived south of Queen Street and the cemetery location at Bloor and Parliament Streets must have been regarded as being well out in the country..................................... To read the full article, Click Here

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An Illustrated History of St. James' Cemetery
 

In 1990, The Government of Canada (Parks Canada) National Historic Sites - Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance in Canada - designated the Cathedral's cemetery Chapel of St. James-the-less as a significant example of Gothic Revival style, 1860-61. The Chapel, just north of Wellesley on Parliament, was "plaqued" in 1996. (Click on image for larger view) The text of the plaque reads:

"CHAPEL OF ST. JAMES-THE-LESS In its vigorous, harmonious composition, this small funeral chapel is a splendid example of High Victorian Gothic design. Its sense of strength and spirituality is derived from the subtle contrast of its stone walls, enveloping roofs, and soaring spire. The chapel was erected in 1860 to plans by Cumberland and Storm, one of Toronto's leading 19th-century architectural firms. Situated on a slight rise, St. James is enhanced by the picturesque setting of its cemetery, which was opened in 1844 and is the oldest established cemetery in the city.

LA CHAPELLE DE ST. JAMES-THE-LESS D'une composition vigoureuse et harmonieuse, cette petite chapelle funéraire offre un magnifique exemple du style néo-gothique de l'apogée victorien. La force et la spiritualité qui s'en dégagent tiennent au contraste subtil de ses murs de pierre, de ses toits enveloppants et de son haut clocher. Elle a été construite en 1860 d'après des plans de Cumberland and Storm, une des principales firmes d'architectes de Toronto au XIXe siècle. Située sur un petit promontoire, elle est mise en valeur par le cadre pittoresque de son cimetière, le plus vieux de la ville, ouvert en 1844."

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada