Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, originally St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, is located at 202 St Patrick St (north of Dundas St W on the west side) in the Kensington-Chinatown neighbourhood of Toronto.
St Patrick’s Church History
The church was originally part of St Patrick’s Parish, beginning as a mission church in 1850. A wooden chapel was constructed on the site in the early 1860s, and just a few years later was destroyed by fire. In 1867, Father JM Laurent was appointed the church’s first resident pastor and oversaw the construction of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church or what we know today as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Built in 1869/70, the Gothic Revival-style church was designed by architects Langley & Gundry. It’s clad with buff brick and features cut-stone dressings. The main entrance is through the tower, topped by a tall, graceful spire.
Inside, the lofty ceiling gives the 800-seat nave a cathedral-like atmosphere. Other architectural highlights include a gallery on the east side, open timberwork columns supporting the roof, and lancet windows throughout and into the apse.
During Father Laurent’s fourteen years as parish priest, a Sunday school (once to the north of the church) and a presbytery (once to the church’s south) were built. He also purchased more land surrounding the church and made improvements, all valued at the time at $60,000. When he left, the church did not have one penny of debt.
In 1881, the Redemptorist Fathers were given charge of the parish.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
With the growing number of Irish and German residents in the area, a larger church was needed, and in 1908, the present-day St Patrick’s Church on McCaul St held its first service. That same year, “old” St Patrick’s Church was given to the Italian Catholic community, and the church was renamed Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In the mid-1960s, the church transitioned from Italian to Portuguese.
The Chinese Catholic Community
Father Louis Tchang of Montreal saw the need for a Chinese Catholic parish in Toronto. He came to the city and, on February 12, 1967, with about 80 parishioners, celebrated the first Holy Mass in the Chinese language at the Portuguese community’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The Chinese Catholic population was growing, and in 1969, the Archdiocese of Toronto granted the church to their community.
In 2007, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was over 135 years old, and the building needed repairs. During the two-year restoration project, workers uncovered sacred artwork and motifs hidden behind two ceilings and beneath layers of paint on the walls. The beautiful stained-glass windows were refurbished, and consecrated artifacts were put on display, showing the church’s rich multicultural heritage.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Today
The church continues to serve the needs of the community, and along with offering in-person worship in Cantonese, Mandarin and English, Sunday Mass is also available online.
Did You Know?
- The church building received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1975.
- St Patrick St was once known as William St, and before that, Dummer St.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 202 St Patrick St
- Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 4 by J Ross Robertson (1904), pgs 335-337
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Toronto: Parish History
- St Patrick’s Parish, Toronto: The History of St Patrick’s Toronto
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: Toronto Public Library
- Vintage Map: Atlas of the City of Toronto 1910 by Chas E Goad courtesy of Toronto Public Library