UrbanToronto has partnered with Heritage Toronto to capture a moment in Toronto's past. On a weekly basis, we will both be highlighting a historic photo of the city's people, places and events, and will be telling the stories behind them.

Many thanks to both Gary Switzer of MOD Developements and Maya Bilbao for putting together the photos and research.

This week's photo:


Photo of several nurses and visitors standing on the rooftop of St. Michael

St. Michael's Hospital

Seen here are several nurses and visitors standing on the rooftop of St. Michael's Hospital, around 1910.

St. Michael's Hospital was founded in 1892 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, a religious group of women established more than 300 years ago in Le Puy, France. The Sisters arrived in Toronto in 1851 and established several institutions in the city including St. Michael's Hospital. The chosen location for St. Michael's Hospital was an old Baptist church on Bond street, just north of Queen Street. The sisters took over the building then called Notre Dame des Anges, a boarding house for working women. But, when a diphtheria epidemic took hold of Toronto, the city's medical health officer appealed to the sisters for assistance and they opened a hospital. The hospital originally had space for 26 beds and a staff of six doctors and four graduate nurses. Only a year later, there were large new wards as well as an emergency department. By 1912, there was space for 300 beds, and a five room operating suite. Perhaps the nurses and visitors seen in this photo were discussing this very expansion to the hospital, or a future one? Today, St. Michael's is a leading hospital in Toronto.

In the background of this photo can be seen the Metropolitan Wesleyan Methodist Church. It was built in the 1870s by Henry Langley who designed numerous churches in Ontario. Langley built a monumental structure of white brick with decorative cut stone, in a design evoking the thirteenth century French Gothic style. This church became known as the Cathedral of Methodism, standing next to St. Michael's Cathedral (Catholic) and down the block from St. James' Cathedral (Anglican). Along with many churches in Toronto, it joined the United Church in 1925 and became known as the Metropolitan United Church. The church structure was nearly decimated by fire in 1928 and rebuilt, so the church that stands there today is not the same one that's seen in this photo.


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This article was originally published in forum thread: Heritage Toronto Mondays