The beginning of the congregation in Victoria Square dates back to 1832 and continues its unbroken ministry to the present. The Primitive Methodists first established what was then termed a “class” here under the leadership of “Daddy” William Haton. This group built a church on the east side of Woodbine, north of Elgin Mills. Around the same time, John Wesley, leader of the Wesleyan Methodists, was initiating a new influence on our way of life.
John Wesley was born in England in the 17th century. He and his brother, Charles, preached a strictly disciplined way of life and because of this, they and their followers were known as Methodists. Toronto’s early settlers included many Methodists: Egerton Ryerson, Bishop Strachan, and Timothy Eaton for example.
Our Wesleyan Chapel (the historic chapel on our grounds) was built in 1845 on the site of our current Church. By 1880, a larger building was required, so the Chapel was moved to a location on Elgin Mills by William Frisby where it was used as a blacksmith shop. The brick Church, built in the Gothic Revival style, was then erected. In 1884, the Wesleyan Methodists and Primitive Methodists of Victoria Square came together to worship in the new brick Church. In 1925, the United Church was formed by a Union of Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists denominations. The Evangelical United Brethren faith joined in 1968.
In 1980 we celebrated the100th anniversary of our current brick sanctuary with several special events.
A few years later, we undertook the “Easy Access” project: A large addition to the back of the Church to incorporate an office for the minister, a conference room, new washrooms, and – most importantly – a ramp to the sanctuary and fellowship hall, and a chairlift to the offices making us fully accessible. The architecture was planned with the utmost care to ensure the new addition would blend with the historical appearance of the original building. Initiated by Arnold and Verda Mortson, this project required the whole congregation, friends, family, and community to work together. In 1992, we were very excited to dedicate the addition in memory of Arnold and Verda Mortson.
In 2003, beginning with the leadership of our Trustees and the Heritage committee, the Wesleyan Chapel was relocated from Elgin Mills to the Church property on Woodbine where it has been lovingly restored to its original condition. In 2017 the historic chapel had a further upgrade making it fully accessible. The chapel is now heated, air conditioned and has bathroom facilities.
At VSUC, we have a wonderful heritage and have experienced many exciting milestones. We’re looking forward to an equally exciting future and invite you to be part of it!