Our History

St. John’s York Mills (SJYM), the oldest Anglican parish church in York County (Toronto plus the Region of York), celebrated 200 years in 2016. SJYM began as a 10m by 20m structure built by the community from local timber — in fact, from trees that were felled on the very land on which the church stood. A quarter-century later, this building was replaced with a sturdier brick structure that has endured and grown over the years to become the building you see today. The history of the church is a reflection of the heritage of its members: a small farming community in the 19th century transformed by urban growth in the 20th century to become a diverse community in the 21st century that reflects its Toronto home.

Books and Letters

There are many stories to tell about our history. In 1966, on the occasion of our 150th anniversary, we published a book called 150 Years at St. John’s York Mills. In October, 2016, we published 200 Years at St. John’s York Mills, including photos and stories from our first 150 years not published previously. For more information about the books, click here.

The Toronto Historical Association featured an article by Laura Peetoom in the April 2016 issue of their newsletter. The article talks about the architecture of the building and also tells the story of Seneca Ketchum, a rather colourful individual who was a driving force in establishing SJYM 200 years ago.

More Stories

This year, a number of events will mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and historians will debate the importance of that conflict to Canada and to its relationship with the United States. Most of us have only foggy notions of General Sir Isaac Brock and his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in 1812, and of the story of Laura Secord, who in 1813, made the long trek to warn Lt. James Fitzgibbon of an American plan to surprise our army at Beaver Dams. (read more…)

Tuesday, September 17, 1816: Laying the Cornerstone

“The corner-stone was laid in the presence of a large number of spectators by Lieutenant Governor Gore and the Reverend Dr. Strachan, the missionary for York, in a manner in keeping with the infant state of the parish. A hole was dug, and a bottle containing a medal and a halfpenny was placed in it, a rude and unpolished stone was used to cover it. The missionary preached to the people, who had seated themselves on boards and timbers collected near the site.”

History of Toronto and the County of York, Ontario. Toronto, 1885 (read more…)

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