Our Lady of Perpetual Help – The Picturesque Church, Built in 1929/30

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1930 - Near completion of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on the northwest corner of Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. Construction began in 1929, and the first Mass was held on June 15, 1930
1930 – Near completion of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on the northwest corner of Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. Construction began in 1929, and the first Mass was held on June 15, 1930 (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0111078F)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish is located at 78 Clifton Rd (at St Clair Ave E on the northwest corner) in the Moore Park neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Parish’s Early History

In early 1923, the parish of St Charles was established for the Moore Park area by Great Archbishop Neil McNeil. Its first pastor, Fr Francis Pennylegion, soon renamed the parish St Catherine of Siena. The congregation held its first Mass at St Charles School, a two-room structure once located at 1416 Yonge St, between Balmoral Ave and St Clair Ave W.

By the summer of that year, the old schoolhouse officially became the chapel as the new St Charles School on Garfield Ave had been completed.

In 1925, Fr Francis Morrissey became the church’s second pastor and renamed the parish Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The congregation was growing quickly, and Fr Morrissey played a significant part in building a permanent location. In 1926, the Archdiocese purchased the northwest corner of St Clair Ave E and Clifton Rd.

Architect J Gibb Morton was commissioned to design the church. Construction began in 1929, with Archbishop Neil McNeil laying the cornerstone. That same year, the stock market crash significantly reduced the parish’s invested funds, and in March 1930, while the church was still under construction, Fr William Egan was appointed the new pastor. Fr Egan inherited a large debt which took about two decades to pay off.

The Picturesque Church

2022 - The campanile at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church stands 40 m or 130 ft tall. Its semi-circular entrance supported by six columns with ornately carved capitals. The church is clad with course Credit Valley stone in variegated tints and has a terra cotta clay tiled roof
2022 – The campanile at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church stands 40 m or 130 ft tall. Six columns with ornately carved capitals support its semi-circular entrance

Our Lady of Perpetual Help features Neo-Romanesque style architecture with Byzantine elements. The cruciform-shaped Roman Catholic church is clad with a course, variegated Credit Valley stone. A few exterior architectural highlights include stone trim, a semi-circular entrance supported by six columns with richly carved capitals, a 40 m or 130 ft tall campanile (an Italian bell tower) and a terra cotta clay tiled roof.

Interior features include terrazzo floors, dark oak woodwork, arches carrying the vaulted ceiling, and staircases leading to the organ and choir gallery. The sanctuary mirrors the entrance in its half-circle shape and the columns.

The first service was held on June 15, 1930, with the church’s nearly 1,000 seats being filled. Solemn High Mass was sung and was accompanied by St Michael’s Cathedral choir.

The cost to construct the church was nearly $155,000.

Throughout the years, colourful stained glass windows were installed, and the church has undergone a few renovations and restorations.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Today

Along with offering in-person worship services, the church supports the needs of the community. Their website also features a 360° virtual tour.

Did You Know?

  • The “cornerwise” positioning of the church only adds to its beauty. The term cornerwise means to be situated diagonally or at a 45° angle to the corner.
  • In 1937, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church bought a 1905-built organ for $5,000 from the People’s Church once on Bloor St E and Park Rd.
  • In 1953, the Rectory at 78 Clifton Rd was replaced with a new structure designed by architect Robert A Servos. The Rectory underwent restoration from 2006/07.
  • The Moore Park neighbourhood is named after John Thomas Moore, a chartered accountant, politician, developer, explorer and businessman who planned the subdivision in the late 1880s. The area did not start being developed until the 1920s.
  • One of Ontario’s ecclesiastical design leaders, J Gibb Morton, was the architect of several churches in Toronto and rebuilt Metropolitan United Church after a fire in 1928.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church Photos

2021 - Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is located at 78 Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E on the northwest corner in the Moore Park neighbourhood. The church is positioned diagonally, which only adds to its beauty
2021 – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is located at 78 Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E on the northwest corner in the Moore Park neighbourhood. The church is positioned diagonally, which only adds to its beauty
1930 - Nearing completion of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on the northwest corner of Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. Construction began in 1929, and the first Mass was held on June 15, 1930
1930 – Nearing completion of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on the northwest corner of Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. Construction began in 1929, and the first Mass was held on June 15, 1930 (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0111078F)
2023 - The nave and sanctuary in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. There is beautiful artwork, stained glass windows and dark oak woodwork throughout, and arches carry the church's vaulted ceiling
2023 – The nave and sanctuary in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. There is beautiful artwork, stained glass windows and dark oak woodwork throughout, and arches carry the church’s vaulted ceiling
2023 - The altar and crucifix in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Notice the stained glass windows and golden capitals that top the columns
2023 – The altar and crucifix in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Notice the stained glass windows and golden capitals that top the columns
2023 - The crucifix in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Notice the golden capitals at the top of the columns feature birds with open wings. The decoration is similar to the capitals on the church's exterior entrance
2023 – The crucifix in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Notice the golden capitals at the top of the columns feature birds with open wings. The decoration is similar to the capitals on the church’s exterior entrance
2023 - At the top of the arch to the sanctuary at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is an image of the Virgin Mary holding her son Jesus. Over Mary's left shoulder is St Michael Archangel, and over her right is St Gabriel Archangel
2023 – At the top of the arch to the sanctuary at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is an image of the Virgin Mary holding her son Jesus. Over Mary’s left shoulder is St Michael Archangel, and over her right is St Gabriel Archangel
2023 - The vaulted ceiling in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church features beautiful artwork. It includes this panel with "IHS" an acronym for the Latin "Iesus Hominum Salvator" or "Jesus, Savior of Mankind"
2023 – The vaulted ceiling in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church features beautiful artwork. It includes this panel with “IHS” an acronym for the Latin “Iesus Hominum Salvator” or “Jesus, Savior of Mankind”
1930 - Six stone monolith columns with carved capitals support the entrance at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, located at Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E in the Moore Park neighbourhood
1930 – Six stone monolith columns with carved capitals support the entrance at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, located at Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E in the Moore Park neighbourhood (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0111081F)
2023 - Looking southeast towards the glass main entrance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church from Clifton Rd
2023 – Looking southeast towards the glass main entrance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church from Clifton Rd
2022 - The campanile at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church stands 40 m or 130 ft tall. Its semi-circular entrance supported by six columns with ornately carved capitals. The church is clad with course Credit Valley stone in variegated tints and has a terra cotta clay tiled roof
2022 – The campanile at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church stands 40 m or 130 ft tall. Six columns with ornately carved capitals support its semi-circular entrance. The church is clad with course Credit Valley stone in variegated tints and has a terra cotta clay tiled roof
2023 - The formal entrance and campanile of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 – The formal entrance and campanile of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 - The stonework details on the column capitals at the entrance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 – The stonework details on the column capitals at the entrance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
1950 - Looking west towards the main entrance and campanile of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in the Moore Park neighbourhood of Toronto
1950 – Looking west towards the main entrance and campanile of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in the Moore Park neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 96)
1972 - The east facade of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 78 Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. Architect J Gibb Morton designed the church in the Neo-Romanesque style with Byzantine elements
1972 – The east facade of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 78 Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. Architect J Gibb Morton designed the church in the Neo-Romanesque style with Byzantine elements (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 62, Item 141)
2021 - Looking northwest towards Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. The church features a 40 m or 130 ft tall bell tower and a terra cotta clay roof
2021 – Looking northwest towards Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E. The church features a 40 m or 130 ft tall bell tower and a terra cotta clay roof
2023 - Looking northeast from St Clair Ave E towards the cruciform-shaped Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 78 Clifton Rd
2023 – Looking northeast from St Clair Ave E towards the cruciform-shaped Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at 78 Clifton Rd
2023 - The entrance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church from Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E in Toronto's Moore Park neighbourhood
2023 – The entrance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church from Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E in Toronto’s Moore Park neighbourhood
2023 - The nave and sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 – The nave and sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 - The sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 – The sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
2023 - Looking southwest from Clifton Rd towards Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory and Church
2023 – Looking southwest from Clifton Rd towards Our Lady of Perpetual Help Rectory and Church
2023 - The Rectory of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church located at 78 Clifton Rd. The Rectory was built in 1953 and designed by architect Robert A Servos
2023 – The Rectory of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church located at 78 Clifton Rd. The Rectory was built in 1953 and designed by architect Robert A Servos
1929 - The congregation held its first Mass in 1923 at St Charles School, a two-room structure once located at 1416 Yonge St, between Balmoral Ave and St Clair Ave W. The parish was initially known as St Charles and was renamed St Catherine before becoming Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They moved to the present-day church at Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E in 1930
1929 – The congregation held its first Mass in 1923 at St Charles School, a two-room structure once located at 1416 Yonge St, between Balmoral Ave and St Clair Ave W. The parish was initially known as St Charles and was renamed St Catherine before becoming Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They moved to the present-day church at Clifton Rd and St Clair Ave E in 1930 (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0111084F)
SOURCE
  • City of Toronto Heritage Register: 78 Clifton Rd/208 St Clair Ave E
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Jun 6, 1917, pg 9
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Mar 6, 1926, pg 25
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: Oct 4, 1929, pg 8
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Oct 16, 1929, pg 14
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Jun 16, 1930, pg 13
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish: History
  • Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Brooklyn, New York): Our Mother of Perpetual Help
  • Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library

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