By 1840 The Rev. Alexander Sanson of York Mills felt the
time had come to establish a church between St. John's
Church in York Mills to the North, and St. James Church
on King Street to the South.
John G. Howard, known as the first professional architect in Toronto, was commissioned to begin plans for the new church. In his diary, Howard noted working on specifications for "a little church up Yonge Street". This little church was a long, barn-like structure measuring 30 by 40 feet.
The church opened for its first service on June 12th, 1842. One hundred people sat in attendance as the Rev. Charles Matthews, former Rector of St. John's, delivered the sermon. A choir of four people sang and a collection of 3 pounds 40 shillings was taken.
The name "St. Paul's" was formalized in 1846 when Bishop John Strachan appointed the church's first Rector, The Rev. John George Delhoste Mackenzie.
In 1857, St. Paul's required more space to accommodate its growing congregation.
A competition was held for designs for a new structure, with brothers Edward and George Kent Radford being announced as winners. Construction began in 1858 on what was described by the English periodical The Builder as a "perfect Gothic gem".
The original wooden church building was moved on rollers to Potter's Field on Bloor Street.
The clerestory was supported on massive columns set on brick piers, and the aisles were separated from the nave by moulded arches on heavy columnar pillars. The main entrance was on the north side in the central bay of the nave. Just within the entrance stood a large sandstone baptismal font. The second building opened for its first service on December 9th, 1860.
At this time St. Paul's seated about 450 people. By 1900 electricity was installed and renovations extended the nave, increasing seating capacity to 900.
The second church is still an integral part of St. Paul's, and now holds office space, in addition to the Great Hall and the St. Paul's Chapel. While much of the interior has been changed, the exterior remains largely untouched.
The Rev. Canon Henry John Cody came to St. Paul's as a student, later becoming curate in charge before being appointed Rector in 1907.
In 1909 St. Paul's commissioned architect Edward James Lennox, whose previous work included the old City Hall and Casa Loma, to prepare designs for a new, larger church.
The new church opened for it's first service on November 30th, 1913 and stands immediately to the east of the old church. With an original seating capacity of over 2,000, the new church was able to meet the church's growing needs, and is presently the largest Anglican church in Toronto.
The organ was donated to St. Paul's by the Blackstock family in memory of Thomas Blackstock. Built in 1914 by Casavant Freres, it has undergone several restorations to maintain its glorious voice.
In 1928 St. Paul's commissioned architect Edward James Lennox to build Cody Hall. The concrete basement was built with a gymnasium, rifle range, bowling alley and change rooms. An auditorium with a stage occupied the ground floor, while the second floor's horseshoe-shaped balcony was surrounded by Sunday school rooms.
Today, Cody Hall stands as it was originally constructed with only minor changes having taken place.
Cody Hall was named for Maurice Cody, the only son of Canon Cody and his wife Mrs. Cody, who drowned in a canoe accident on July 14th, 1927.
After the completion of Cody Hall, St. Paul's consisted of three separate buildings. In 2002, St. Paul's began renovations to connect these three historic buildings. Architects Marie Black and Walter Moffat were awarded the contract. The project was completed in 2006.
The Atrium was built to act as the main entrance and connect the new and old churches. An outdoor Courtyard as well as office space were also constructed on the main floor, in what used to be a laneway.
A newly-constructed Foyer leads to the Great Hall, the St. Paul's Chapel, the Library, and Cody Hall.
The second floor consists of Children's Ministry, the Nursery, and a number of meeting rooms.
On the lower level, a fully accessible youth room, gymnasium, change rooms, storage and mechanical rooms can be found.