Fire destroys Toronto’s historic St. Anne’s Anglican Church along with priceless artwork

By Matthew Puddister
Posted Jun 13, 2024

[Anglican Journal] St. Anne’s Anglican Church in west Toronto, a designated National Historic Site of Canada, is no more—destroyed in a fire, along with artwork including murals of the only known religious art by members of the Group of Seven.

Firefighters responded just before 8 a.m. on June 9 to a four-alarm blaze at St. Anne’s, located in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighborhood. Footage by local news showed black smoke and flames erupting through the church’s domed roof.

No injuries have been reported. The Rev. Don Beyers, rector at St. Anne’s, said no one was present in the building and that the church was locked and secured at the time of the fire. Toronto Fire Services is investigating the cause of the fire, which it said could take weeks. As of June 10, police were saying the cause was unclear, but that the blaze was not considered suspicious.

St. Anne’s was a Byzantine Revival-style church built between 1907 and 1908. It housed murals, painted by three Canadian artists from the Group of Seven collective, that decorated the chancel and dome. The church commissioned Group of Seven member J.E.H MacDonald in 1923 to supervise the creation of art depicting the life of Christ in the building’s interior. In 1996 the federal government declared St. Anne’s a national historic site.

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