Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur – Toronto’s First French-Canadian Church

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2020 – Looking northeast towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur, located at 381 Sherbourne St at Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking northeast towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur, located at 381 Sherbourne St at Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto

Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur, or Sacred Heart Parish, is located at 381 Sherbourne St (at Carlton St on the northeast corner) in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto.

Parish History & the First Church

In the 1880s, French-Canadian Roman Catholic families began arriving in Toronto and calling the city home. They needed a church where they could pray, speak and sing in their language. The Archbishop of Toronto requested a French-speaking priest from his Montreal counterpart. In 1887, Father Phillipe Lamarche arrived in Toronto and, on June 24 (St-Jean-Baptiste Day), became the founding priest of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur.

The new parish of 130 families did not have a church, so Mass was celebrated in a chapel at St Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. In 1888, parishioners purchased a Presbyterian church in Corktown at 426-30 King St E. It became the first Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur. Today, Sackville Park occupies the space where the church once stood.

Father Lamarche passed away in 1924 while serving as the parish’s priest for over 35 years.

Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur

As the number of worshipers grew, a larger space was needed. In the mid-1930s, the church purchased land at the northeast corner of Sherbourne St and Carlton St, where William Gooderham lived, for $20,000. The 400 families who attended the church helped raise the $50,000 in funds needed to build the new structure. In 1936, the cornerstone was laid, and construction was completed the following year. The church is clad with yellow brick and features stone trim and sculptures.

In 1951, a wing was added, increasing the seating by 200. Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur was visited in that same decade by the famed NHL hockey player and Montreal-born Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

In 2007, the City of Toronto gave the church building heritage designation.

Throughout the years, as francophone parishioners moved to Toronto from Quebec, the Maritimes, northern Ontario, Europe and in recent years, Africa, the church attended to their spiritual needs and also served as a cultural centre. That continues to this day.

Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur Photos   

1960s – Looking north from Carlton St towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur at 381 Sherbourne St in Toronto's Cabbagetown neighbourhood. The church was built in 1936/37; however, the parish was established in 1887
1960s – Looking north from Carlton St towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur at 381 Sherbourne St in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood. The church was built in 1936/37; however, the parish was established in 1887 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 370)
2022 – The south facade and main entrance of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur at Carlton St and Sherbourne St in Toronto. The church is clad with yellow brick and features stone trim and sculptures
2022 – The south facade and main entrance of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur at Carlton St and Sherbourne St in Toronto. The church is clad with yellow brick and features stone trim and sculptures
2020 – Inside Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur during COVID-19 located at 381 Sherbourne St and Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Inside Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur at 381 Sherbourne St during the COVID-19 pandemic
1972 - Looking northeast from the intersection of Sherbourne St and Carlton St towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur. Notice the bell-gable of the former St Peter’s Anglican Church in the background, on the right
1972 – Looking northeast from the intersection of Sherbourne St and Carlton St towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur. Notice the bell-gable of the former St Peter’s Anglican Church in the background, on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 7, Item 19)
2022 – Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur is located on the northeast corner of Sherbourne St and Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood. The church building received heritage designation from the City of Toronto in 2007
2022 – Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur is located on the northeast corner of Sherbourne St and Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood. The church building received heritage designation from the City of Toronto in 2007
2020 – Looking northeast towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur, located at 381 Sherbourne St at Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking northeast towards Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur, located at 381 Sherbourne St at Carlton St in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Stone sculpture above the front entrance of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur
2020 – Stone sculpture above the front entrance of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur
2022 – The cornerstone at Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur reads: EGLISE DU SACRÉ-CŒUR A - M - D - G 1936

It translates to: Church of the Sacred Heart

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (Latin), meaning "For the greater glory of God"

The cornerstone at Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur was blessed on October 25, 1936, by the Archbishop of Toronto, Msgr JC McGuigan
2022 – The cornerstone at Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur reads: EGLISE DU SACRÉ-CŒUR A – M – D – G 1936

It translates to: Church of the Sacred Heart
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (Latin), meaning “For the greater glory of God”

The cornerstone at Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur was blessed on October 25, 1936, by the Archbishop of Toronto, Msgr JC McGuigan
2023 – Looking northeast towards the main entrance of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur located at Sherbourne St at Carlton St. The parish's first church was once located on King St E, just east of Sackville St in Toronto's Corktown neighbourhood
2023 – Looking northeast towards the main entrance of Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur located at Sherbourne St at Carlton St. The parish’s first church was once located on King St E, just east of Sackville St in Toronto’s Corktown neighbourhood
2020 - The heritage plaque reads: 

Sacré-Coeur Parish 

"In 1887, Sacré-Coeur Parish was founded as the first Roman Catholic Parish to serve the French Canadian community in Toronto. Father Philippe Lamarche came from Montreal to found the church and served as a priest until his death in 1924. The Parish's first church building, located on King Street near Sackville Street, was purchased from a Presbyterian congregation in 1888. Since that time, francophones have been able to worship in their own language at Sacré-Coeur Church. This building was designed and constructed for worship and was blessed in 1937. In 1951 the structure was enlarged to accommodate a growing congregation. Sacré-Coeur has served both as a spiritual and cultural centre for many of its French-speaking parishioners who emigrated from Quebec, the Maritimes, northern Ontario, Europe, and more recently from Africa. 

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario
2020 – The heritage plaque reads:

Sacré-Coeur Parish

“In 1887, Sacré-Coeur Parish was founded as the first Roman Catholic Parish to serve the French Canadian community in Toronto. Father Philippe Lamarche came from Montreal to found the church and served as a priest until his death in 1924. The Parish’s first church building, located on King Street near Sackville Street, was purchased from a Presbyterian congregation in 1888. Since that time, francophones have been able to worship in their own language at Sacré-Coeur Church. This building was designed and constructed for worship and was blessed in 1937. In 1951 the structure was enlarged to accommodate a growing congregation. Sacré-Coeur has served both as a spiritual and cultural centre for many of its French-speaking parishioners who emigrated from Quebec, the Maritimes, northern Ontario, Europe, and more recently from Africa.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario
SOURCE

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