Graves discovered during St John demolition

The graves of four people were discovered while demolishing St John The Evangelist, according to InsideToronto.

Martin Proctor, a local folklorist and community hero, has a long discussion on a Weston Facebook page. He says the graves

 would have been from the old St. John the Evangelist Church cemetery…. burials were still taking place at least as late as the early 1890s….


The old St John the Evangelist church

Thanks to Anon for the tip.

Hopeworks Connection Celebrates Trillium Grant

Joel Reid, Denise Gillard and MPP Laura Albanese.
Soundcheck’s Joel Reid and Reverend Denise Gillard receive a Trillium Award plaque from MPP Laura Albanese.

Reverend Denise Gillard had some celebrating to do last night. After years of using older instruments for her youth based organization, The Hopeworks Connection, the Trillium Foundation approved their grant application and came through with a $14,100 grant towards the purchase of musical instruments. With this purchase, HWC is able to support the youth-led organization ‘Soundcheck’ in the Weston community. Through HWC, SoundCheck’s youth mentors are able to offer “Hear Me Play“- a program which provides personal development workshops and the opportunity for youth to work with experienced musicians and learn to play an instrument.

‘In the past, SoundCheck had to use HWC’s older equipment and rent instruments and it really cut into our fundraising for youth programming’, said Gillard. ‘This grant will allow us to do more with our donations.’

Hopeworks uses Weston Park Baptist Church as a base. Pastor Alan Davey was on hand to offer his congratulations.

Until the beginning of this month, Reverend Denise also worked at Frontlines but will now focus full time on her Hopeworks Connection.

MPP Laura Albanese presented Reverend Denise with the cheque and a plaque. Councillor Frances Nunziata also attended and offered her congratulations.

Westminster changes hands

The former Westiminster United Church on William Street was sold to Family Prayer Mission, a Roman Catholic organization, who took possession around the 19th of June.

The building will be used for spiritual retreats and prayer services, according to Rappai Nedumpara, President of the organization.

Nedumpara says that they have no plans to open the facility to a daycare or community groups such as Beavers. He says, “we need the whole space. We want to have living facilities there.”

The retreat will be modelled after the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world, he says, the Divine Retreat Centre Muringoor, which serves hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Westminster United closed last summer, taking with it the only institutional daycare in Weston village.

Too little, too late

When Westminster United Church closed last year, the Weston Village Daycare was forced to close as well. Many parents (and citizens) wondered why that had to be so—isn’t it better, after all, to make a little money from rent rather than none at all?

Almost a year after the church shut down, it remains unsold and vacant. (Your humble correspondent thought about buying it but found the $3,850,000 asking price slightly out of reach.)

Next week, City Council will debate a motion by Paula Fletcher that would ask staff to figure out what can be done in situations like this. If passed, staff will inventory the services provided in churches and come up with options for preserving them when churches close.

Gospel Music at Weston Park Baptist Church

The TC3 Concert Choir
The TC3 Concert Choir

While some Westonians were watching Santa go by, others were cozy and warm listening to some stirring gospel music from TC3 (Toronto Children’s Concert Choir & Performing Arts Company) and their special guests, the U of T Gospel Choir.

U of T Gospel Choir.
U of T Gospel Choir.

TC3 recruits students between the ages of 7 to 18 from all over the city with the aim of enriching academic and artistic talents of their members. An impressive 90% of TC3 alumni continue to higher education after high school.

Founder and Choir Music Director, Reverend Denise Gillard expressed the hope that one day, TC3 members would be singing in the U of T Gospel Choir.

In addition to their busy touring schedule, TC3 will be performing on Breakfast Television in the next few days.

Westminster’s last service

I couldn’t bring myself to cover it. I knew I would be too sad, and too mad. Despite my pretensions, I don’t have a reporter’s objectivity. Happily, talented Hilary Caton was there, and she’s done a better job than I ever could of covering the final service of Westminster United.

Under the church’s wooden roof, people of all ages gathered to sing seven traditional hymns and say their own good-byes to a church that has been a staple not just in their community, but in their family history, too.


St John the Evangelist celebrates 160 years

St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church celebrated its 160th anniversary last week. Laura Albanese celebrated it in the Legislature:


A hundred and sixty years ago the Catholic community in Weston came together to establish a church so they could worship together. The community of St. John the Evangelist has grown through many difficult and exciting decades, always being an important part of the community of York South–Weston.

The church is, Mr. Speaker, the little parish with heart in the big city, and I wish to extend my most heartfelt congratulations to the church, pastor Father Michael McGourty, laypersons and staff, and to all its parishioners for 160 years of playing a vital, vibrant, central role in the community. This community will soon also be looking forward to having a new school built next to it, a brand new elementary school that bears the name of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School.