Welcome to this online tour. We hope you will have an opportunity soon to visit us in person!
As you start your tour, imagine that you are standing at the bottom of the steps, facing the altar. Among the pictures on the ceiling above you are two leaders from the Old Testament scriptures - Moses on the left and Elijah on the right. These figures symbolize the Law and the Prophets respectively.
As you look at the stained glass windows directly in front of you, try to imagine that in the early years they would have been relatively plain, with some coloured glass around the margins.
The first memorial window was probably installed in the late 19th or early 20th century. The rest of the windows in the church were installed between 1906 and 1929. Most were produced by N.T. Lyon Co., a Toronto firm which began in the 1880s.
For more information about all our stained glass windows, please click here.
If you turn to your left, you will see the war memorial windows and plaques.
The stained glass windows in the west transept were dedicated in November 1920, the parish’s response to the horrors and losses of World War I. Much of the morning service of dedication was led by the fathers of the men who had been killed in the war, a bit of congregational participation unusual in Anglican churches in that era. In the southern triangle in the main south window is a piece of red glass, representing the head of an angel soldier. It was brought from the Cathedral of Arras, France.
Below the war memorial windows and elsewhere in the church are a number of plaques erected in memory of those lost during both World Wars.
Below these memorial windows are the choir stalls. To their right is the organ console. The first organ in the church was installed by S.R. Warren & Son, a firm which operated out of Montreal and Toronto. By 1903, the state of this instrument was such that a committee was formed to raise funds for a new organ. In 1904, the parish hired Casavant Bros. of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec to install a two-manual (2 keyboards) organ. It was the first Casavant instrument in a Toronto church. The company, which was 25 years old at the time, went on to become one of the largest organ firms in North America, and currently the oldest organ company still operating under its original name.
According to Alan Jackson and James Bailey, authors of Organs of Toronto, the Casavant company’s move into the Toronto market signalled a turning point for organs in the city – “Here at last was an organ that would survive the winter cooking and summer humidity.” The Casavant 'tubular pneumatic action' organ was superior to previous ‘tracker’ organs built of air-dried local lumber, which were particularly susceptible to extremes in humidity as church heating became more efficient. Casavant, producing instruments for the dry cold of Quebec winters, used kiln-dried lumber.
The organ has been rebuilt and repaired several times over the years, most notably in 1944, when the instrument was expanded to a 3-manual console. To read more about the history of the organ and its console specification, please click on the respective links.
In 2005, a new cleaning and refurbishing project for the organ was undertaken. Please click here to learn more.
Now look up at the ceiling in the body of the church.
Photographs from the late 1800s show a plain ceiling over the main part of the church, probably painted white. At some point in the 20th century, the stencilling decoration was applied. The panels are dedicated to the twelve apostles, with their names and symbols at the centre of each panel. Restoration and repair work was done on this part of the ceiling in 1986, as Father Tim Foley wrote at the time, “to prevent the Victorian horsehair plaster from falling on our heads.”
The church was originally lit by ‘illuminating’ gas, produced at the Consumer’s Gas coal-gas plant at Front and Parliament Streets. Initially there were gas pendants hanging from the ceiling, then later, wall fixtures. Some of the gas pipes are still visible around the walls. In the 1890s, electric light fixtures were added. Both types of lighting were used until 1929, when the church stopped using gas lighting in order to cut expenses.
The pews in the body of the church are pitch pine and appear to date from the 1870s. In the early days, the pews were numbered and members rented a pew. The Church of the Redeemer continued the practice, started by St. Paul ’s, of having “open and free” seating at the Sunday evening service, thereby allowing those who could not afford pew rent to attend. The practice of assigned pews continued well into the 20th century, until it was abolished by the third rector, the Rev. Canon R. A. Armstrong (1926 - 1948) towards the end of his term. If you look carefully at the end of the pews on the centre aisle, you may be able to see the outline of the ceramic number plates.
The Eden London Price Memorial Chapel in the east transept was dedicated in 1961 and used for midweek celebrations, Sunday Eucharists and special liturgies until June 20, 2010. It was the gift of William Arthur Price, the owner of a nearby hotel, the Windsor Arms. For more information about the chapel, please click here. From the late 1880s until 1927, there was an 80-seat gallery above this space. The marks of the gallery floor and stairway are still visible on the east and south walls.
We hope you will have the opportunity to visit us soon and to take this tour in person!
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