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A Brief History
  • 1793 - Town of York established, first Anglican service
  • 1797- Congregation worships in government buildings until wooden church built
  • 1807 - First "Church at York" built of wood with the help of the garrison
  • 1813 - Church used as hospital during War of 1812; damaged and robbed by American troops
  • 1818 - Church enlarged and bell tower added. Used as fire bell for the town
  • 1828 - Church dedicated to St. James the Apostle
  • 1833 - Wooden church taken down. Neo-classical stone church built.
  • 1834 - Town of York becomes the City of Toronto
  • 1839 - January: church burns; August: The Rev'd John Strachan consecrated first Bishop of Toronto; December: St. James' church becomes a cathedral
  • 1844 - Sixty-five acres by the Don River purchased for cemetery
  • 1849 - Fire destroys Cathedral
  • 1853 - New Gothic Revival Cathedral opens for services on original site
  • 1865 - Bells installed
  • 1875 - Spire completed
  • 1876 - Clock donated by citizens of Toronto
  • 1889 - Side galleries and aisle benches removed, choir stalls and organ console installed in chancel
  • 1910 - Current Parish House opened
  • 1936 - St. George's Chapel dedicated, organ overhauled by Casavant Freres
  • 1953 - New vestry added, sacristy refitted
  • 1959 - Parish House renovated, Diocesan Centre built
  • 1982 - Major renovation of the Cathedral completed
  • 1997 - Bicentenary celebrated, peal of 12 change-ringing bells installed
  • 2012 - Completion of the Cathedral Centre (formerly Parish House) renovation of office and meeting space


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The Cathedral has been designated as an Ontario Heritage Property by the Ministry of Culture and has also been designated as a heritage site by Heritage Toronto.



Great Gulf Doors Open: May 23 and 24, 2015

Saturday, May 28, 2016
10:00am - 5:00pm

Sunday, May 29, 2016
12:30pm - 4:00pm

The Cathedral will be open from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday, and from 12:30 to 4:00pm on Sunday.

Saturday’s Program will include group and self-directed tours of the Cathedral throughout the day in both Mandarin and English, as well as the opportunity to climb the tower to the ringing room for a demonstration and explanation on the art of change ringing. There are to be organ demonstrations and the opportunity to meet the organist at 10:30 and 11:30am as well as 1:30 and 2:30pm, and one can participate in a Eucharist Service at 12:30pm.

Sunday’s Program includes on-going tours of the Cathedral in Mandarin and English, and the opportunity to hear the Cathedral choir rehearse at 3:00pm Although Doors Open in the Cathedral officially ends at 4:00pm on Sunday, one is invited to stay for an organ concert from 4:00 to 4:30pm followed by Evensong.

St. James Cathedral dates back to the founding of this city and was its first church. The present building is the fourth on the site, and opened for services in 1853 after the fire that burned much of the Old Town in 1849 destroyed the former cathedral. Its tower is the highest church tower in Canada, and memorials along its walls date back to parishioners who fought in the American Revolutionary War. The gold leaf ceiling over the chancel area was created by Gustaf Hahn, and the magnificent stained glass windows come from Germany, England , the U.S. and Canada, while Toronto artist, the late Doris McCarthy created the hanging of the Trinity in the Baptistry. Take the time to go into St. George’s Chapel, now a memorial for the Royal Regiment of Canada, and then over to the West Porch to see the memorial window of the Governor General’s Horseguards, the second regiment attached to the Cathedral showing James, our patron saint, stepping out of the fishing boat where he had been mending nets with his father and coming to Christ. It was dedicated by the Queen at the time of her visit in 1997 and marked our 200th anniversary.

The Cathedral Church of St. James is both a parish church ministering to the historic St Lawrence neighbourhood and a cathedral (the church where the bishop's chair or throne - the "cathedra" - is located), making it the spiritual centre of the diocese and a focal point for the civic life of Toronto, one of Canada's most prominent cultural and financial centres.


The Cathedral is open Monday - Friday, from 7:30am-5:30pm, Saturdays from 9:00am-5:00pm and on Sundays from 8:00am - 5:30pm.

Visitors are most welcome to come and experience the Cathedral during open hours. We do ask that guestsenjoy the Cathedral is a quiet manner, since it is frequently in use for services or personal prayer.

Group Tours can be arranged by contacting Cathedral Archivist Nancy Mallett.



To Learn more about the History & Architecture of St. James Cathedral 

 The Archives & Museum

Phone: (416) 364-7865 x233


Distinguished Visitors to the Cathedral