History of St. George’s
For over 60 years, St. George's has been a second home for many Germans who came to Canada following WWII, as well as subsequent generations born in Canada. Our congregation was founded on April 1, 1954 by Pastor Dr. Wolf Geogginger, who led the congregation until 1970. In 1956, the congregation purchased our building at 410 College Street and named it in honour of St. George's the Martyr Anglican Church on John Street, due to that Church's kindness in hosting our fledgling congregation. The church was named after the Anglican church because the church burned down and the congregation felt so much sympathy for them.
St. George's quickly became a cultural hub – we established the first German language school in Toronto and the church had its own theatre group and choir.
During the first ten years, the congregation renovated the entire church building, installed a church bell that was a present from Germany, and purchased a used organ. In the 1980s, interior stained glass windows were donated by church members and groups.
Today, St. George's remains German in orientation. However, we have a small, growing English congregation and welcome all!
Prior to St. George’s…
Our building represents the spiritual, cultural and architectural heritage of the Bathurst and College area since 1872. It was first known as the College Street Baptist Church and built on land valued at $1,000 that was donated by Mr. Thomas Lailey. The cost to build the church was $1,600. The architect was Henry Langley, one of the first architects born and trained in Canada, who designed seventy gothic revival churches in Ontario, including nearby St. Stephen's-in-the-Fields.
We have insight into what the church was like in its early years, because in 1887, J.R. Robertson, publisher of the Toronto Telegram wrote about our church. He mentioned that there were 274 members and Sunday school was composed of 464 children with 45 officers and teachers. He also indicated that the congregation was not composed of wealthy people, but rather persons of moderate circumstances, mostly mechanics and laboring people, who contributed nearly $3,000 yearly for local and benevolent church purposes.
He also commented:
Externally, the building is not attractive, it is a low-set, rough-cast structure, without any pretension to architectural merit. If the outside of this little church seemed uninviting, the inside entirely counter-balanced the impression. The light pouring its radiance from a large gasolier above and many brackets and pendants underneath the arches, the bright and homelike appearance of the place and large congregation all contributed to make it inviting.
By 1888, the congregation of College Street Baptist Church grew so large that the church was sold in order to build a new larger church at the corner of Palmerston and College Street.
From 1889 until 1956, the church was home to six congregations:
• Christ Church Protestant Episcopal(1889-1923)
• Western Congregational/United(1923-1930)
• First Pentecostal Holiness(1930-1935)
• St. Paul's Italian United Church(1935-1943)
• The Apostolic Church(1943-1956)