Our History

For the first half of the nineteenth century most of Toronto’s Roman Catholics were buried in parish cemeteries, notably St. Paul’s Church on Power Street. St. Paul’s Church was established in 1822 and the large property behind the Church served as its cemetery.

In 1845 Bishop Michael Power began construction of St. Michael’s Cathedral with plans to have a cemetery attached. These plans were altered with the heavy immigration of Irish Catholics fleeing the potato famine, and the outbreak of the typhus epidemic. The large number of deaths including Bishop Power in 1847 quickly filled the parish cemeteries. Bishop de Charbonnel, the second Bishop of Toronto, responded to the needs of his people by purchasing property near the corner of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. On September 28, 1855, St. Michael’s Cemetery was consecrated.

As the Catholic Community grew, Mount Hope Cemetery opened its gates on Erskine Avenue in 1900. At that time parish cemeteries continued to meet the needs of the population outside of the city of Toronto.

After World War II, the Archdiocese experienced unprecedented growth. The once predominately Irish Catholic Church was soon transformed into a multi-cultural mosaic. Catholic Cemeteries was ready to meet these new challenges. In 1954, Holy Cross Cemetery opened on Yonge Street in Thornhill, north of Toronto. In 1964, Resurrection Cemetery opened to serve the Durham area; In 1968, Assumption Cemetery opened in Mississauga; In 1985, Queen of Heaven Cemetery opened in Woodbridge. and finally in 2004, Christ the King Cemetery was consecrated by His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic for the faithful of the Scarborough and Markham area.

St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Barrie opened in 1867 and was originally meant to meet the needs of St. Mary’s Parish.

Catholic Cemeteries has also evolved with the needs and demands of the Catholic community. Today most of our cemeteries offer a wide variety of burial options from traditional ground burial to crypt burial in our spacious mausoleums, as well as the burial /entombment of cremated remains.

Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services – Archdiocese of Toronto also operates a crematorium at Assumption Cemetery.

In September  of 2014, we enhanced that care with the opening of our first funeral home. Located on the grounds of Holy Cross Cemetery, families can arrange their funeral burial and cremation needs in one convenient location.

From Toronto’s earliest beginnings, Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services – Archdiocese of Toronto have cared for the needs of its Catholic faithful. Today Catholic Cemeteries continues to fulfill its mission to offer compassionate care of our families and friends before, during and after interment of a loved one.

These are the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Toronto, our heritage and a natural conclusion to our lives as Catholics.

 

The History of St. Michael’s Cemetery

 For the first half of the nineteenth century most Roman Catholics were buried in parish cemeteries, notably St. Paul’s on Power Street.

 

 
This changed drastically in 1847 with the great Irish potato famine.  Immigrants fleeing Ireland arrived exhausted and malnourished.  Many soon fell victim to the typhus epidemic.  The parish cemeteries were soon filled to capacity.
 
Bishop deCharbonnel, the second Bishop of Toronto, responded to the needs of his people by purchasing property on Yonge Street and on September 28, 1855 St. Michael’s Cemetery was consecrated.
 
At first, Catholic parishioners were upset that the cemetery was so far outside the city, but for the next 50 years St. Michael’s Cemetery became the final resting place for Toronto’s Catholics as the city grew.
 
In 1855, the most notable feature of the cemetery, the winter storage vault, was built by Joseph Sheard, the only architect to become the mayor of the City of Toronto.  The winter vault was used to store the bodies of the deceased during the winter until the graves could be dug again in the softened soil the following spring.  The octagonal shape of the winter vault offered extra wall space for platforms to place coffins.  The winter vault has long stood as a small but particularly attractive architectural monument which over the years has been admired by many for its striking design and simplicity.
 
Today St. Michael’s Cemetery has become known as a “quiet, gentle surprise” tucked behind the store fronts of Yonge Street just south of St. Clair Avenue.
 
In its grounds lie the history of Toronto’s Catholic pioneers.  Over the years some 29,000 Catholics of the Toronto Archdiocese, priests, religious and laity, have been buried in these ten acres.  Those famous and the anonymous who lived their faith and now rest from their labour.
 
Today Catholic Cemeteries has kept pace with the rapid growth of the Archdiocese since the early 1950′s with seven major cemeteries.
 
Together we carry out the Corporal work of mercy of burying the dead in ground consecrated to God, a sign of hope in the Resurrection.
 
 
**NOTE: For the protection of the cemetery grounds and monuments, St. Michael’s Cemetery gates are now closed.  To visit the cemetery please contact Mount Hope Cemetery at (416) 483-4944.