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 and on site funeral home 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. In 2017 we introduced Catholic Cremation Services, our funeral home for Catholics choosing cremation.
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