An Anglican presence in Richmond Hill dates back to June 1862, when the Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto formally recognised “The Richmond Hill Congregation” as the first formal gathering of the Anglican Church in our community. Shortly thereafter, John Robert Arnold, the son of a United Empire Loyalist, gave a corner of his property for a new church, requesting that he and his descendants be buried in a family plot near to it. The yellow brick church was opened December 8th, 1872. Now called ‘the chapel’, old St. Mary’s stands stately on the hill.
As Richmond Hill grew, St. Mary’s expanded. Additional lands were obtained by gift, bequest and purchase. A basement was excavated under the Old Church during the winter of 1928-29. An addition was added to the Vestry in 1945. Then in 1956, the parish hall was built and named “Wrixon Hall” as a memorial to the long and faithful ministry of the Rev. W. F. Wrixon.
Growth continued, and under the direction of the Rev. James F. O’Neil a new church was started on October 26th, 1964. With great thanksgiving this building was consecrated on April 10th, 1968 after the congregation finished paying off the mortgage. When we look at Saint Mary’s Church, we see part of our heritage and are reminded of the men and women of past years; we think of their labours, their caring, the education they provided, their mission in life, and the worship they shared together.
Gladdening Light, a book by David Hunt and St. Mary’s Archives Committee, is an enlightening walk through the history of St. Mary’s, looking at the Stained Glass Windows of our parish.
Please click on the image to download and view a copy of this impressive work, that chronicles the stories behind many of the beautiful images you will find during your visit to St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s New Church “50th Anniversary Book”
In 2014, St. Mary’s celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our new modern church, which opened October 26, 1964. This parish publication, put together by St. Mary’s Archives Committee, helps catalogue the evolution of St. Mary’s. In this book you’ll be able to explore the new church’s entire history, from its conception to final reveal and consecration. Please enjoy this material as you take a step into our modern history here at St. Mary’s.