Our 200th Anniversary

1816 – 2016: 200 Years at St. John’s York Mills

St. John's York Mills - Glory to God from generation to generation

On September 17, 1816, the first members of St. John’s York Mills laid the cornerstone of their first church building. That made September 17, 2016 our two hundredth birthday!

During 2016 we engaged in a variety of events and projects to celebrate this milestone, looking back at the story of the church and at the events that shaped the world around it. On our anniversary Sunday, September 18, we recreated an 1800s-era service of Morning Prayer, complete with an excerpt of a sermon delivered by by Bishop John Strachan.


200 Years at St. John’s York Mills
by Scott Kennedy and Jeanne Hopkins


1016 200 Years at SJYM book LEIn the anniversary year of 2016, SJYM published an anniversary book, a book of history and remembrance, 344 pages of stories of our church life, illustrated with over 250 photos. The anniversary book covers two hundred years of church history, with emphasis on the last fifty, the years since 1966.

Fifty years ago, on the occasion of St. John’s 150th anniversary, parishioner Audrey Graham published 150 Years at St. John’s York Mills, the definitive history of St. John’s from pioneer times to 1966.

The new book, 200 Years at St. John’s York Mills, expands on some of the history from our early days, particularly the history of some of the important families of the area, but the emphasis is very different as our church is no longer the centre of community life in this area as it was in the 1800s and well into the 1900s. The latest book recounts the stories of our people, clergy and parishioners, and their stories of how our church has adapted, thrived and survived.

Did you ever wonder why St. John’s York Mills has remained a vibrant community while many other churches are closing? Have you ever walked through our graveyard, gazing at the two-hundred-year-old graves sites and wondering about the lives of the pioneer families who settled our area and are buried there? Do you sometimes think about people who used to be at the centre of our community but who are no longer with us? You’ll want to read the stories of the people who have been instrumental in keeping St. John’s alive and vibrant up to the present time. This volume answers the question of how our church has continued to grow spiritually and to reach out and gather in those of a new generation and of different cultures.

Fully illustrated, and very readable, 200 Years at St. John’s York Mills is a rich tapestry of our history, our church, our heritage. Parishioners of St. John’s and students of north Toronto history will find this book a delightful and valued addition to their bookshelves.

The church office has copies of the book available for purchase for $50 each. Please contact the office, or ask a any greeter on Sunday morning.

Reproductions of Aubrey Graham’s book, 150 Years at St. John’s York Mills are also available for $25 each from the church office.


Highlights from the Anniversary Year Celebrations


Thursday November 10: Ted Barris in An Evening at Vimy

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a major and costly victory in World War I that many see as a defining event in Canada’s identity as a nation.

On November 10, noted historian Ted Barris was joined by a student winner of the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. Both gave talks about their experiences and knowledge of this event that changed attitudes and ideals of Canadians in the years that followed. (Note: Celebrated Vimy Memorial sculptor Walter Allward is buried in our churchyard.)

Great Gulf Doors Open Toronto

On May 28 and 29, Torontonians came in to walk around, talk with members and learn more about us as part of the 2016 Toronto Doors Open event. Visitors learned about architectural elements dating from 1848 to 2015 and enjoyed displays of artifacts from our history. Others took self-guided tours of the churchyard, visiting the resting places of notable parishioners of the past. Read more about the event here.

Anniversary Service — Nineteenth Century Morning Prayer

On Sunday, September 18, we re-enacted a service as it was done in the 1800s, complete with period costumes, props and an extract from a sermon preached in 1816. Click to watch highlights.

Anniversary Service — A Service of Thanksgiving

On Sunday, September 18, we celebrated our 200th anniversary with a modern service of thanksgiving and joy, with music by the band, choir, handbell ringers and organist, and with a message from the Archbishop. Click to watch highlights.

Special publication: 200 Years at St. John’s York Mills

200 Years at St. John’s York Mills by Scott Kennedy with Jeanne Hopkins brings the history of our church up to date, telling the wonderful stories of St. John’s with emphasis on the past 50 years, from 1966. At 344 pages with 260 photos, this softcover book is a treasure! If you would like a copy, it’s available for $50 from the church office. Call or email 416-225-6611 or welcome@sjym.ca.


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