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The Cathedral Church of St James in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, is the oldest congregation in the city. The parish was established in 1797. The present structure, begun in 1849 and completed in 1853, was at the time one of the largest buildings in the city. It was designed by Fredrick Cumberland and is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture. It opened for services on June 19, 1853. The total length of the cathedral is 198 feet, with a maximum width of 98 feet.

The church cemeterymarker was moved in the 1840s to St James-the-Less at Parliament and Bloor, although there are still unmarked graves under the modern parking lot. The church is listed as an Ontario Heritage Property and a National Historic Site and is the episcopal seat of the Anglican Church of Canada's Diocese of Toronto.

The tower and spire, measuring 305 feet (92.9 m), were added in 1874, with the clock being installed a year later. The tower and the spire are the tallest in Canada and the second tallest in North America (after St. Patrick's Cathedral, New Yorkmarker) - although the spire of St. James is still shorter than the dome of Saint Joseph's Oratorymarker in Montrealmarker which is the tallest church in the Western Hemisphere. The tower has five bells that still ring through the city today, and the chiming clock is "one of the finest examples of a chiming public clock anywhere in the world." The tower also houses a full peal of 12 change-ringing bells, the largest such peal in North America. At the turn of the 20th century, St James' Cathedral was still the tallest building in Toronto, and was often the first thing immigrants noticed when they stepped off the train at old Union Stationmarker.

Royal St. George's Collegemarker, on Howland Avenue, is the church's choir school and is open to boys in grades 3 through 12.

Recent history

To raise money to help pay for rising costs of maintaining the church, part of the grounds were planned to be sold to a condominium developer. Part of the land was to been part of the original cemetery, and the developers planned to move the graves in order to clear the land. Public outcry ensued and a deal was made to sell off a parking lot to the north west of the church for the Spire condominium development.

The west fa├žade of the Cathedral was the back-drop for several scenes set in Detroit in the 1999 film, Detroit Rock City .


  1. The Great Tower Clock of St. James
  2. The Bells of Old York

See also

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