Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, May 16, 2022

Morituri te Saluant

It's taken a bit of time on Streetview and other odd places to track down this neo-Gothic building and its history. Now I can say I know its past. Its future is more in doubt. This is 51 Bond Street, whose life was tied up in this alteration plan in 2018. So far, no good.

Next I unearthed the 2009 designation bylaw. It dignifies the boarded-up, windows-smashed dereliction of the place with some great detail. 

This Streetview capture, taken within the past couple of years (note careful pedestrians with face masks) shows the house's position at the corner of Bond and Shuter Streets. Given its location across the street from St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica  I at first assumed it belonged to the holdings of the archdiocese.

Metropolitan United Church 1872
 (rebuilt after a fire in 1929)
But no. In fact this boarded up structure belongs - or belonged?  - to Metropolitan United Church at 56 Queen Street East. It's the 1906 Metropolitan United Church Parsonage.

The late Doug Taylor's astonishing website Historic Toronto contains the history of the first Cathedral of Methodism near Toronto's tony (in the day) Jarvis Street residential neighbourhood .

I am feeling a sense of loss, having just wandered onto Doug's site, to find the notice that he died of cancer in 2020. Yet another significant soul lost that year. Doug's executor has found a home for his work, now housed with BlogTO. They post his incomparable Toronto history items from time to time. 

north side

Photo from the parking lot across from Jazz Apartments on Church Street. So much 'potential.'

Seen from the southeast corner, towers looming behind  its still dignified human-scaled late Medieval detail. Old trees, once in leaf, will dignify the graffiti and posters on the hoarding surrounding it.

So, old friend. I salute you. I will look for you when next I visit your town.


  1. How very interesting. But so sad. Such a lovely building. Thank you for your super-sleuthing.

  2. I haven't been at Shuter & Bond in a while, but I used to pass it regularly. Yes, the old parsonage is looking very sad. But, the church itself is cleaned up, and the grey look from your photo is gone. We can see the beauty of the lovely yellow brickwork. In case anyone is interested, Metropolitan United Church houses the largest pipe organ in all of Canada, with over 8,300 pipes. I'm told that's more than the number of pipes in the organs of Westminster Abbey, or Notre Dame, Paris.

  3. Yes, I thought the church looked wonderful. The photo was taken some time ago. And I read about the Casavant organ; I will pop inside the next time I wander the area.

    1. Considering the size of the organ, when you're in the church, notice how few pipes are actually visible. Why they built it that way is beyond me, as the sound seems somewhat remote.