There is a tiny church on Bloor St in downtown Toronto, dwarfed by the high-rises around it. My attention is always drawn to it whenever I’m in the area, and yet I don’t know why exactly it’s held such appeal to me over the years. Perhaps because it’s an anachronism at this bustling city intersection.
When I first moved to Toronto out of university, I had a large client in this area and passed by this church every day in the cold of winter. It seemed fitting that it was on a cold winter day that I finally answered the call of this heritage building and stopped in to visit.
Up until now, I didn’t even know its name – The Church of the Redeemer.
The original church didn’t have the 3 doors we see today. In this old photo from 1885, evidence of the church’s rural beginnings are apparent, as well as its single front door. I don’t know when the entrance was eventually changed.
I was surprised by how small the church was on the inside. Only after my visit did I learn that the back portion of the building had been sold many years ago.
What touched my heart in this simple and unpretentious church were the plaques that lined the walls, of soldiers from the congregation who had fallen during the 2 World Wars.
WWI casualties lined one side of the church, with WWII casualties on the other.
These two wars have now been consigned to the history books, and yet these plaques seemed to be shouting out to me. I’ve seen plaques like these in other old churches, but that day I was deeply moved by them.
Two plaques, hung side-by-side, and I assume they were brothers. I appreciate that this has been a scenario planned out over and over through war after war, but it is a loss no parent should have to endure.
We pay them homage to remember their loss.
There were only 2 of us in the church that day. A woman sat unmoving in the back row staring straight ahead of her, seemingly oblivious to me. She contributed to the heavy, sad mood that seemed to permeate the building.
Long shadows were cast on the floor from the sunlight streaming through the door windows. To the side in the small aisle, a shovel and bucket of road salt stood ready for the next snowfall.
While I stood quietly in this oasis of solitary contemplation, the busy city traffic continued to whiz by.
It’s interesting how a building can impart a mood. On this particular day, I had been feeling light and happy – having just been dismissed unexpectedly from jury duty – but the Church of the Redeemer was a melancholy place.
I did not linger long.
Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.