June 14, 2024
Toronto Fire hasn’t determined a cause to the blaze, noting that the fire marshal’s office and its teams will be investigating over the coming days. A spokesperson added that no one was inside the church at the time of the fire and there were no reports of injuries.

Blaze destroys historic St. Anne’s Church in Toronto and its ‘priceless’ Group of Seven murals

When Don Beyers found out his church was on fire early Sunday morning, he threw on the first pair of pants he could find and raced — on foot — to the site.

But it was too late.

“Fire was already spewing out the dome at the top,” Beyers said of the roof at St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Little Portugal, where he has been parish priest for three years. “And I knew there was nothing we could do.”

Sixteen to 18 murals of Jesus’ life painted by three members of Canada’s iconic Group of Seven dotted the walls and ceilings of the church, Beyers said, and were likely all reduced to rubble. The four-alarm fire erupted at the building on Gladstone Avenue, between College and Dundas Streets, in Toronto’s west end just before 8 a.m.

Most of the church was gone.

“I was crushed,” he said. “I just started to cry.”

The “priceless” paintings, completed in 1923, were a landmark Beyers called “a gem of Canadian culture.”

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