Calvin’s Early Years

Breaking Ground
Just as quickly, the new minister approved a building site on Delisle Avenue, just north of the intersection of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. On March 9, 1926, the congregation formally approved the purchase of two properties and commissioned the architectecural firm of Wickson and Gregg – known for the design of Timothy Eaton Memorial Church and the old Central Toronto Reference Library.

On September 27, the first sod was turned by T.R.W. Black; on November 20 the corner-stone was laid by Rev. Prof. Thomas Eakin and less than a year after that, on September 23, 1927, the finished building was dedicated by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rev. W. Leslie Clay. And so, on September 25, 1927, a day of glorious autumn sunshine and summer-like warmth, the first service was held in Calvin Presbyterian Church, every seat was filled.

Calvin’s Early Years
The enthusiasm of building a new church spilled over to other aspects of Calvin’s formation. The Women’s Association undertook to pay for the $16,000 Casavant organ which was opened and dedicated in December of 1927. A four-year fundraising effort to pay for the organ was planned, but the full amount was raised by an enthusiastic congregation in a mere fourteen months.

Two years later, Canada was caught up in the Great Depression. The Depression caused a great deal of strain and anxiety for the members of Calvin Church, but they grew in their faith and hope for a better future (this optimism can be seen in the “Ruth” window in the Founder’s Chapel which was installed in June of 1939).

Then came World War II in 1939. The War years brought new problems for the Calvin Presbyterian Church members but they rose to the challenge. Regular services and congregational life continued and both patriotic and community outreaches were made. Calvin’s congregation became involved in sewing and knitting for the Scott Institute, Evangel Hall, and Yorkville House; collecting home mission bales; collecting and forwarding books and magazines for missions and country churches; and making up boxes for Calvin’s young people serving with the armed forces overseas. Calvin also housed the C.G.I.T’s, Scouts, Cubs, Guides, and hosted many community dinners.

These were active years with a lot of programs and activities for the over 1000 members of Calvin. There were over 250 children in the Sunday School, more than filling the large Christian Education wing. Calvin’s members felt drawn to do their patriotic part but did not believe that these good works were a substitute for their faith. As a result Calvin’s reputation grew since it was through “their deeds [that] ye shall know them.

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