Fire Destroys Historic Toronto Church, Police Investigate


A four-alarm blaze on Sunday morning engulfed the historic St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto, Canada. Police are now investigating the cause of the fire, adding it to the increasing number of church fires being recorded across the country.

Possibly the only stained glass to survive as a fire destroys St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto. (Nick Lachance/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Reports were received by Toronto Police around 8 a.m. about a fire at the church on Gladstone Ave., located west of downtown. The building was described as having windows breaking and heavy smoke emanating from it.

Senior reporter Joe Warmington arrived shortly after and documented the events, later sharing them on X – formerly known as Twitter:

Toronto Fire stated on X that some neighboring buildings had been evacuated as a “safety precaution,” according to the Sun report.

“Main body of fire knocked down with crews extinguishing spot fires,” the fire department’s X account posted just before 10 a.m. “No injuries. Expect crews and traffic to remain on scene. Avoid the area where possible.”

Video footage was quickly shared, showing how the fire overtook the church, which has proudly stood for over 100 years.

Rev. Don Beyers, a parish priest at the church, told CBC News that the congregation is “greatly devastated” by the fire damage.

“I’m crushed, I feel for my people. You can’t imagine what this is like for a church community to come on Sunday morning to find that everything you worked so hard for and done so much for [is] gone in the matter of an hour,” Beyers stated outside the building on Sunday.

“Despite this terrible tragedy and loss, we as a church will continue on,” he added.

St. Anne’s Reverend Don Beyers (centre) speaks to the media with Toronto city Councillor Alejandra Bravo (left) and Deputy Chief Jim Jessop (right). Historic St. Anne’s Anglican Church devastated by a 4-alarm fire. (Nick Lachance/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The church, constructed in 1907-1908 in the city’s Little Portugal neighborhood, housed early paintings by three Group of Seven artists that were installed in the 1920s. The murals adorned the chancel and the dome, which was destroyed by the fire, according to CBC.

“The artwork was priceless. It was murals, beautiful murals,” Beyers said. “They were stunning.

“This was the only church that featured artwork by members of the Group of Seven. And I’m sorry to say that’s been lost, from what I can see.”

St. Anne Anglican Church, Toronto, before the blaze (Wikimedia Commons)

St. Anne’s Anglican Church, Toronto, as seen in 2009. Established in 1863, the church building is a National Historic Site of Canada, constructed in 1907–1908 in the Byzantine Revival style, unique for an Anglican church. (Wikimedia Commons)

CBC in January reported a sharp rise in church fires across the nation, with at least 33 Canadian churches having been burned down since May 2021. Of these incidents, 24 have been confirmed as arson.

Toronto police have established an online portal where the public can submit any photos or videos that might assist investigators. It can be found here.

Simon Kent
Simon Kent
Managing Editor. An Aussie and a sailor a long way from the sea.

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