The Basilians Arrive in Toronto


Capt. John Elmsley donated 4 lots north of Saint Joseph St to the Basilians, on condition that a parish church be built.

Later that year the Basilians purchased four additional lots from Capt. Elmsley.


July 9: Excavations began.
September 15: Cornerstone was laid.


September 14: Saint Basil’s Church opened for worship.

Saint Michael’s College opened the following day.

November 16: Saint Basil’s Church was consecrated.


Following the death of Capt. John Elmsley his heart was entombed in the western wall of the church just outside the (then) sanctuary.

(The rest of his body was buried beneath Saint Michael’s Cathedral.)


North addition and new altar blessed by Archbishop Lynch.


A large crucifix was added to the east wall.


Patterned floor tile installed in sanctuary.


The earlier northern extension was insufficient to accommodate the growing congregation and more room was needed, so the church was extended to the south.

Southern façade and partial tower demolished, 40’ extension added which included the south façade, entrances, vestibule, choir loft, rose window and tower.

This extension allowed for a vestibule. Its primary entrance with granite columns is on the east side. There is also an entrance on the west side. Stairs lead up to them. The 3 doors between the vestibule and the church were made of wooden tracery and glass. From the vestibule there were stairs up to the gallery and another set of stairs down to the church basement.

Student chapel below church was likewise expanded southward. A building permit issued on March 17 gave the cost given of $3000. (Arthur Asa Post, architect)

Glass windows on the side of the church were removed. Dormers were added to the roof, bringing in more natural light, and these windows were relocated there. This allowed more light into the church.

New stained glass (the current windows) was added to the side windows.

New pews and organ were added.

Wood paneling was used on the lower parts of the walls. It was pine grained to represent oak. (It is now painted.)


Votive candles were introduced.


The steeple, added in 1895, was designed by Arthur W. Holmes, the architect of the Queen’s Park buildings.

The bell, manufactured in Baltimore Ohio, is a tenor bell with a chime of ten, weighing 6,250 lbs, including the attachments and is wrung electrically. The cost, $1,000, was raised by contributions from St. Basil’s parishioners. It was dedicated in December 1895.


A statue of Saint Anthony was added to the west wall near the altar of the BVM.


Stained glass window installed on the west wall in memory of Fr. Brennan on the first anniversary of his death.

New sanctuary lamp (gift of Mrs. George Foy)


The organ was expanded. (gift of Mr. F. A. Moure)

New green carpet for the sanctuary (gift of Mr. V. P. Gough & Mr. J. J. Seitz)

Fr. Kelly added to the east wall the stained glass windows of St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle and Aloysius Gonzaga in honor of Fr. Soulerin, Founder of the Basilians in Canada and St. Basil’s first pastor.


New heating system added.

New side altars, with statues of the BVM and Saint Joseph. (gifts of Mrs. John Foy and Lady Mackenzie)


Electricity was used for the first time to light the church.


Grime and dirt removed, walls and ceiling painted in solid colors.

3 new altars with side and fronts in Italian marble.


Slating removed from steeple/spire and replaced with copper sheathing.

Stations of the Cross and painting of the “Adoration of the Christ Child by the Four Doctors of the Western Church” were cleaned and restored.


Stained glass windows were added over the front doors.


A new floor was added, the pews were refinished.


Sacristy rebuilt and organ repaired with a new console.


Mass was being said facing the people on a small, temporary altar near the front of the sanctuary.


Automatic ringer for the Angelus bell.


Stained glass windows restored, wood frames repaired.


Renovation of the college chapel.


Oil paintings of the Stations of the Cross restored.


New altar dedicated to the memory of Colm P. O’Shea (1943-1975). Matching ambo and commentator’s stand.


Shrine of Saint Basil added to vestibule to commemorate parish’s 125th anniversary.


Tile floor installed.

Repairs to the tower, steeple and its cross.

Stained glass added to the rose window.


New roof, and copper replaced.


Entrance doors refinished.


New Sound System Installed

Old Confessionals converted into new Reconciliation Room

Office Created in Choir Loft

Half of Sacristy Space turned into Meeting Room

Parish Hall Painted and New Lights Installed


Renovated Sanctuary, removing carpet and platforms

Repointed the West Wall

Washed West, South and East Walls

Removed all asbestos from building

Replaced steam heating system with natural-gas powered fan coils

Installed exterior lights on South Wall


New Baptism Font

Repaired North Basement Windows

Built new Atrium for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Program

Built new Meeting room adjacent to Atrium in the North end of the Basement

Expanded 006 Meeting room into the old chapel sacristy in the basement

Installed security door in office corridor

Installed security cameras throughout building.

Began full renovations to lower level (expected completion in early 2017)