Rosedale Presbyterian Church (416) 921-1931

Rosedale Presbyterian Church 129 Mount Pleasant Road
(at South Drive) Toronto

Rosedale Presbyterian Church on May 20, 1949, Photographer: Howard MacDonald

Rosedale Presbyterian Church on May 20, 1949, Photographer: Howard MacDonald


Early in 1907 a group of people, newly settled in the Rosedale area of Toronto, inquired into the feasibility of beginning a Presbyterian church for approximately 100 families that resided there. A motion was put forth and the process began.

Rosedale Presbyterian Church held its first public worship in its new building January 24, 1909 with Rev. Daniel Strachan conducting the service. Initally there were approximately 50 communicants and an average Sunday School class of 31 children.

By the early 1950’s a second service was required and more space was needed for a Christian education and larger Sunday School area. With the inspiration, vision and guidance of Dr. James D. Smart, Rosedale’s minister at that time, the Christian Education building was erected and occupied on September 18, 1955. The building included a modern kitchen, lounge, large meeting hall and several classrooms.

Over the years there has been much modernization and changes made to the buildings and a magnificent Karl Wihelm organ was purchased in 1983.

There were so many "beginnings" for this congregation that we have had to agree on one date for historical purposes. That is January 19, 1908 when the first Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was observed by a congregation named Rosedale Presbyterian.

Earlier in 1907 a small group had gathered and formed a committee to petition the Presbytery of Toronto to form a new congregation. Locations for a building were explored and temporary worship was held at Rosedale Public School. Permission was received in May 1907. Following this a Sunday School was established, a board elected and the first public worship service was held on December 1, 1907. Ninety-two attended this service conducted by the minister of Bloor Street Presbyterian Church. The following Sunday, the congregation celebrated the first baptism of an infant.

In 1908 under the leadership of an interim moderator, Rosedale celebrated the first communion, formed the first session and held its first annual meeting. Plans for the church, designed by Chapman & Griffin, included a large sanctuary located where our present lawn and a large part of Mount Pleasant Road are now. As usual, a fund-raising campaign was undertaken to build the church. The large portion was never built in part because Rosedale interrupted its own building campaign to answer an urgent appeal for financial assistance ($3000) to build a church - later named Rosedale! - in Honan Province in China. Already Rosedale was involved in mission work and the ground had yet to be broken for its own building! (This may have been fortunate as later in 1947 the City of Toronto expropriated a large portion of the original Rosedale Presbyterian property !)

The date in the peak of the sanctuary's exterior wall is 1909. In January of this year our first minister was inducted and the first marriage was performed. The formal dedication of the building was April 17, 1910.

Rosedale continued to grow and to reach out to help others. After World War 1, in 1922, there was a national Presbyterian program called the "Forward Movement" which included within its scope a scheme for hospital units located in remote areas.

These generally were a furnished home for a nurse and a deaconess or two nurses with rooms for several patients. The young women in the church aimed to raise $1000 for a nurse's salary as a gift to the Peace Offering Fund and as a war memorial to those on the honour roll and to relatives of members of the Circle who had died in the Great War. Success was such that the goal was changed to $5000 and the Rosedale War Memorial Hospital was established in Northern Ontario at Matheson on September 14, 1922. From 1920-1924, a total of $10,000.00 was generously donated for this project. The original hospital is now the Rosedale Long -Term Care Centre.

The Presbyterian Church was sorely tried at the time of Church Union. In 1925 Rosedale voted 143 to 125 to remain in the Presbyterian Church. Unfortunately we lost about one-third of our families.

The Depression affected everyone; as did the war that followed in the next decade. As in the Great War, many members of Rosedale's family gave their lives in service. After World War ll, families began to grow and once more to prosper. In 1949 the mortgage was paid off. In later years a manse was purchased.

On September 18, 1955 the Christian Education wing was dedicated. This was a direct result of the determination of one young mother who could not attend church because she had three children to tend. Joined with others in similar circumstancesl a Sunday School was established and built onto the existing sanctuary structure. In 1956 matching front doors were donated in memory of Lt. Col and Mrs. Duncan Donald by their daughter. Also in 1956, the Rosedale Church Library was created in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Cargill by her daughter. The lovely mural was painted by James B. Francis, the father of one of our current members. We have had major fundraisers for important but unglamorous things such as a new furnace system; but as well we succeeded in purchasing our glorious Karl Wilhelm Organ which was dedicated November 20, 1982 with an inaugural recital by Douglas Bodle, renowned Canadian organist.

Some interesting tidbits: When the carpenter, who was an Anglican, submitted his bid for the pews in the original church, he naturally included "kneelers."

As good Scottish Presbyterians of the time, we chose to keep what we paid for and as far as we know are the only Presbyterian Church that has them!

Why do we have a fireplace in our sanctuary? It is believed that the area of our transept was once the lounge or reception area for the original church building.

Do we have bells? We did have chimes donated to peal from the "tower" but they got disconnected during some renovations or was it too early in the morning for the neighbours; to hear them?

A member of our congregation moved from Montreal several years ago. Actively looking for a church he visited Rosedale to see the window that his grandmother had placed in the church and dedicated to his grandfather who had had an early death. He is still here and sits right under the window with the U of T crest.