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Toronto Purchase signatures, original from August 1, 1805. Image: City of Toronto Archives

Chapel of St. James-the-Less, St. James Cemetery. December 12 2021.

Rose Avenue House, St. James Town, April 10, 1949. Courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 132926

Saturday Club, dinner at Frederick Brigden Sr.'s house, 103 Rose Avenue. September 2, 1903. Image by Wellington Bogart. Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

  • St. James Town

    The Toronto Purchase

    The St. James Town neighbourhood is situated on Treaty 13 lands, which were part of the Toronto Purchase. The original Toronto Purchase of 1787 was negotiated between the British and the Mississaugas of the Credit: it included the western portion of what is today the City of Toronto, Vaughan, King, and the western portion of Richmond Hill. The validity of the original agreement was never confirmed and, as a result, the treaty was revised in 1805. At that time, the Crown purchased over 250,000 acres of land, including the area now known as St. James Town.

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  • St. James Town

    The Story of a Name

    Popularly known as St. James Town since the 1960s and 1970s, the area likely takes its name from the nearby cemetery and mortuary chapel of St. James-the-Less. The cemetery opened in 1844 after the city’s first burial space, the St. James Cathedral cemetery at King and Church Streets, became overcrowded. Given the rapid growth of the city at the time, there were calls for a second city cemetery and a large plot at the edge of town was chosen.

    Local architectural firm Cumberland and Storm designed the cemetery’s mortuary chapel, which was completed in a Victorian Gothic style in 1861. Today, the chapel of St. James-the-Less is recognized as a National Historic Site and the cemetery remains one of the oldest still in operation in Toronto.


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  • St. James Town

    A Rural Retreat

    Today’s quiet, landscape setting of St. James Cemetery gives an impression of what it would have felt like to live in the area during the mid-late nineteenth century. Largely rural when the cemetery opened, the first phases of residential development occurred in the late nineteenth century, when nearby lands were subdivided and sold.

    During this period, the area was considered a prime spot for the middle and upper classes of the city, and was a highly sought after address in Toronto, featuring picturesque three-storey Victorian homes. Today, the St. James Town neighbourhood is considered bounded by Jarvis Street to the west, Bloor Street to the north, Parliament Street to the east, and Wellesley Street to the south.

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