History & Buildings

Short History of St. Philip’s Church, Montreal West
Founded 1891

The Mission of St. Philip was founded in 1890 as an off-shoot of St. Stephen’s Parish in nearby Lachine. In 1897, the Mission separated into its own Parish and the first St. Philip’s Church was built south of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. The parish grew and in 1917 a second church was built nearby to replace the first. The parish continued to flourish and by the late 1920’s, a new building was needed. Parcels of land were donated by parishioners and in 1929, the third and current St. Philip’s Church was built in the Gothic style on the north side of the railway tracks, straddling the boundary of Montreal West and the City of Montreal.

In the late 40’s, more parcels of land were donated or purchased and the Memorial Hall was built and dedicated to the memory of all those who had died in the Second World War.

In the baby-boomer years, St. Philip’s was a very active parish with many groups, guilds and a large choir.

St. Philip’s has had 11 rectors over the years, the longest serving being Canon F. Charles Ireland (1926-1953) and The Rev’d. Stephen R. Eardley (1978-2006).

Our buildings and grounds

The Church of St. Philip was built to the design by Philip J. Turner and S. H. Maw, Architects, in 1929. As described by A. M. Henderson, Architect, in a building condition report that he prepared in 1997, the church “possesses a clean, uncluttered feeling derivative of its design date which echoes well the similar feeling often found in churches some two centuries older. Its plan form and volumes and the detailing of the interiors respect the liturgy of the Anglican Church in Canada”. The exterior walls are finished with dressed limestone and the roof, clad with grey, pink and green slate, contribute to the remarkable architectural quality of the building.

Starting in 2012 we began a thorough redesign and repair of the church tower. These repairs were competed in 2013.

The hall, known as "Memorial Hall," was built in 1951 and generally followed a 1948 design. The Hall is used by our parish for various functions as well as a number of community-based groups. It also serves as a meeting place and venue for events and receptions.

Mature trees and pathways that link the Church and Memorial Hall provide a generous setting and environment for the church property and the municipality.

The rectory is a two-story residence, built in the 1950’s, it is located adjacent to the church property on the Montreal West side.  

Detailed History of our Buildings

St. Philip’s Church sits on the border between Montreal West and N.D.G., and the growth of the parish reflects that of the area around it. In 1891 the mission of St. Philip was founded at what was then the village of Blue Bonnets, and would eventually become Montreal West, by the Rev. Richard Hewton, vicar of St. Stephen’s, Lachine. The first church was built on the corner of Ainslie and Easton; it was constructed of wood, cost $1,800, and was known as St. Philip’s Church, Montreal Junction. The Canadian Pacific Railway had just opened a railroad station at Montreal Junction, which naturally encouraged the growth of the town and of the parish. The first church was replaced in 1911 by one built in stone on the same site, with a rectory beside it, and in 1925 St. Philip’s became a self-supporting parish. However, by the time the Rev. Charles Ireland (later Canon Ireland) became rector in 1926, it was clear that a larger church in a more central location was desirable, to serve the rapidly increasing population of the surrounding area. Eventually the decision was taken to build on the present site; much of the land on which the church and the memorial hall stand was most generously donated by the Trenholme family.

The architects of the present church were Samuel H. Maw and P. J. Turner. Samuel Maw was a talented artist, as well as an architect, whose etchings survive in collections in Halifax and Toronto. He came to Canada from England in 1912 and helped in the rebuilding of Halifax after the 1917 explosion. The architecture of the church clearly draws on Early English Gothic models, and the harmony of its design and furnishings may perhaps be attributed to Maw’s continuing association with the church; he designed not only the church building but the lych-gate and the memorial hall, besides interior doors and the striking oak reredos, and is fittingly commemorated by one of the windows. Bishop Farthing laid the foundation stone on June 22, 1929, and returned to dedicate the finished church on December 18, 1929. In 1930 at the annual meeting of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (which gave awards for buildings erected the previous year) St. Philip’s was honoured with an award for the finest building and finest type of church architecture in the Montreal area.

The church is best approached from the main entrance on Brock, through the lych-gate; a lych-gate is a feature of many ancient English churchyards, being the place where a coffin was set down to await the priest officiating at a funeral. St. Philip’s lych-gate was designed by Samuel Maw and dedicated in 1941, both to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the parish and in memory of Mrs. Lila Hawley. As you walk towards the porch, notice the stone flags of the pathway, which were quarried in Montreal and originally formed part of the sidewalk in front of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sherbrooke St. When they were being taken up, Canon Ireland acquired them at the cost of $1 each.

The porch is known as the Children’s Porch because the children of the parish collected $7,000 dollars to pay for it. The cornerstone was laid in 1929 by Thomas Pethick, aged 6, whose whole life can be seen in the church; there is a memorial to him as a server near the altar, and a stained-glass window honouring him in death, for he joined the RCAF and was killed in action in 1943. In the porch may be seen the handle to the entrance door of the first St. Philip’s Church, the one built in 1891. The oak doors leading into the church were designed by Maw and Turner and made, as was most of the oak furniture of the church, by the Globe Manufacturing Company of Waterloo, Ontario. They were given by Mr. and Mrs. Percy Jones in memory of their son, James Lee Jones.

The beautiful interior furnishings of St. Philip’s are testimony to the faith, generosity, hard work, and dedication of parishioners and church organizations over the more than a hundred years of its history. Some are old, some new. Each has a story; there are too many stories to tell them all here, but we will highlight a few. If you turn left when you reach the main body of the church, you will come to the west end of the north aisle. Here, against the wall stands a Cross of Stones. Canon Ireland encouraged parishioners and friends to collect stones from cathedrals, abbeys, and parish churches that would represent the link between St. Philip’s, the Church of England, and the world-wide Anglican Communion. Out of these donations, C. A. Hutchins created this Cross of Stones, which was placed here in 1940. Alongside is a chart explaining where the stones come from.

Return to the centre of the church and walk towards the pulpit. The pulpit and choir stalls were transferred here from the second St. Philip’s church, to which they had been donated by its daughter mission of Blue Bonnets in Ville St. Pierre. The eagle lectern, the oak pews, and the rector’s stall were all made by the Globe Manufacturing Company. As you walk into the chancel, you will see the high altar and the oak reredos behind the altar. This was designed by Samuel Maw and donated in 1945 as a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Burbank by their children. The figures represent St. Paul, carrying a scroll in one hand and a sword in the other, and St. Luke the Evangelist.

One remarkable feature that is hidden from sight is the set of stones which form the consecration cross in the high altar. These were gifts to Canon Ireland from friends who brought them back from their travels. They represent scenes from Our Lord’s life, and the growth of His church. In the centre of the altar, where the chalice stands at the Eucharist, is a stone from Mount Calvary. There are also stones from Gethsemane, the river Jordan, Old Sarum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, and St. Peter’s Church, Bermuda. Look down as you stand at the altar rail and you will see the embroidered kneelers, made by ladies of the parish, under the direction of Cynthia Harris, to celebrate the one - hundredth anniversary of the parish in 1991.

Of course, you will have noticed that St. Philip’s has not one but two functioning organs. The older of the two, the pipe organ, was built by Casavant Frères and installed in the second church in 1922. From there it was moved to the present church in 1929, and since then has undergone several restorations. The newer organ was built by Karl Wilhelm of St. Hilaire and was dedicated in November 1979; it is a classical, tracker organ similar to Spanish and Italian organs of the 17th and 18th centuries. Both are in regular use and bear witness to the long and rich history of church music at St. Philip’s. In the 1890’s, in the first wooden church, the organist was paid a dollar a week!

If you turn to your right as you leave the chancel, you will enter the baptistery. The font was donated to the first church by Mrs. Isabella Davies in 1895. It has, therefore, moved with the parish from place to place. The baptistery leads into the Lady Chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On the opposite side of the church from the baptistery, you will find the door to the cloister leading to the parish hall. The hall was designed by Samuel Maw and dedicated in 1951 as a memorial to those of the parish who lost their lives in World War II and as a thanksgiving for the safe return of those who fought and survived. It hosts the many activities of the parish, from Sunday morning coffee hours to Christmas bazaars, to this day.

Before you leave the Church, admire the two glorious icons by the Romanian iconographer Viorel Badoiu which hang on either side of this exit. To the left, beside the lectern, is an icon of St. Philip, given in loving memory of Norah and Gilbert Layton. To the right, in the south aisle is an image of the warrior archangel St. Michael, given in memory of Henry and Edith Mellanby and Cynthia Mellanby Harris

Marilyn Sims, 2010

The Windows of St. Philip's Church

Plan Indicting the Church Windows Starting from Brock Ave. Entrance

The Children’s Porch: subjects pertaining to children

I. THE GUARDIAN ANGELS. This window was donated by Mr. and Mrs. P.F. Calcutt in memory of their daughter Kathleen Calcutt.

II. THE CALL OF SAMUEL. Samuel, while a boy serving in the Temple, was called to be a prophet. (1 Sam.3:2-10). Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Colby, this window is a tribute to their friend, a former priest at St. Philip’s, the Rev. F.A. Pratt.

The Tower:

III. THE WORSHIP IN HEAVEN depicts angels worshipping in heaven and below them a choir of boys joining in their praise. The words are from the Communion service. This two panelled window was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. St. Clair Holland and their children, Joan and George.

IV. THE NATIVITY depicts the birth of Jesus, with the angel host announcing his birth (Luke 2:14). It was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Gomery who were the first couple to be married in the second St. Philip’s Church.

V. THE RESURRECTION. The hand at the top represents God the Father; below, the dove represents the Holy Spirit; between them is the risen Christ. At the bottom is the empty tomb. A gift “To the Glory of God”, this window was donated by Nanon and Roland Gomery.

The South Aisle: scenes of the life of Jesus

VI. THE HOLY FAMILY window was donated in memory of Mrs. Freda Kelly by her husband, E.P. Kelly, and their son, Peter.

VII. OUR LORD BLESSING THE CHILDREN. The quotation is from Matthew 19:14. This window was given in loving memory of Mrs. Julia Emily Fisher by her children, Mrs. Fred Benjamin, Mr. Joseph Fisher, Mr. Harry Fisher, Mrs. Leo Lavell and Mrs. Dan Gurden.

VIII. THERE IS A LAD HERE was a gift from Mrs. W.J. Thistlethwaite and her family in memory of her husband William J. Thistlethwaite. The window depicts the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:9), when a young boy offers five loaves and two fish, with which Jesus feeds the crowd. The bottom of the window includes the fleur-de-lys, the symbol of Scouting, and the Scout motto, “Be Prepared”, in recognition of Mr. Thistlethwaite’s service as a Scout leader.

IX. OUR LORD HEALING THE SICK. The scene is the healing of a paralytic (Luke 5:25). This window was given in memory of John Hakesley Linton by Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Linton and family. 
X. THE TRANSFIGURATION. The window depicts Jesus on the mount of the Transfiguration, flanked by Moses and Elijah. Peter, James and John look on (Mark 9:2-9). One hundred and ninety-two members of the congregation enlisted in the army, navy or air force during W.W.II, of these, 15 died. This window was a gift from parishioners in memory of those who gave their lives and who have no other memorial window. Their names are on the brass tablet next to the window.

XI. THE RESURRECTION was given by Mrs. R.A. Brook in memory of her husband Richard Ackroyd Brook. The window depicts Christ walking from the tomb. The inscription is from John 11:25.

XII. THE ASCENSION. Jesus is depicted ascending to heaven, as the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends to guide the disciples. This window was given in memory of Mrs. Isabel D. Trenholme, a member of the three churches in the parish.

Side Door:

XIII. SAINT CECILIA is the patron saint of music. Given by Eric Morris Jr. to commemorate his marriage to Mavis Snowden.

Above the Altar:

XIV. THE GOOD SHEPHERD. This three-panel window was donated by Isabel Trenholme in 1929. In the centre is Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). On the right is St. John, and on the left, St. Philip the Apostle.

The North Aisle: Saints 
XV. SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND was a well-loved and deeply faithful Queen of Scotland. She is depicted carrying her prayer book. In the background is the cross of St. Andrew, patron of Scotland, and at the bottom is Dunfermline Abbey, which Margaret founded. This window was presented by Mr. Ross Murray in memory of his mother, Mary Bruce Moir Murray.

XVI. SAINT CHRISTOPHER, according to legend, carried the baby Jesus across a river on the flight to Egypt. He is shown carrying the Christ-child, who holds in his hand an orb, signifying his lordship. This window was given by Mr. and Mrs. Stewart B. Williams in memory of their son, F/O Peter Yeates Williams, who was killed in action on August 16, 1943.

XVII. SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL, leader of the armies of heaven, was given by Dr. and Mrs. C. T. Crowdy in memory of their son F/O Charles William Cyril Crowdy, killed in action in 1944. 
XVIII. THE CRUSADER. Rather than any particular saint, the window depicts the valiant follower of Christ willing to lay down his life for God. This window was given in memory of Major Donald Brain by his parents Mr. and Mrs. G.H. Brain. Major Brain was killed in action in 1943. The bottom depicts St. Philip’s Church and St. Nicholas Church, Godstone, Surrey, England, home of Major Brain’s wife.

XIX. SAINT GEORGE, patron of England and of soldiers. Mr. and Mrs. L.M. Pethick gave this window in memory of their son, F/O Thomas M. Pethick, killed in action in 1943. At the bottom is St. Philip’s Church, with a mark on the cornerstone of the Children’s Porch, which Thomas Pethick, then six years old, had laid in 1929.

XX. SAINT HILDA, ABBESS OF WHITBY was given in memory of Hilda Gwyneth Webster Hale by her husband Charles A. Hale, K.C. The saint is shown with a crosier or bishop’s staff, a symbol of her authority as abbess. The lower panel depicts the village of Whitby and the abbey as a safe harbour.

The Baptistery

XXI. THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE shows the priest Simeon and the prophetess Anna praising the baby Jesus as his parents bring him to the Temple for his dedication (Luke 2:41-51). It was presented by the children of the Parish.

XXII. JESUS OF THE STARS (in the baptistry door) is a gift from the Confirmation class of 1940.

The Lady Chapel: St. Mary and Holy Women

XXIII. THE ANNUNCIATION. After the angel Gabriel informs Mary that she has been chosen to bear God’s Son, she replies, “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). This window was given in memory of Samuel H. Maw, co-architect of the church, by his widow.

XXIV. OH WOMAN GREAT IS THY FAITH remembers the Caananite woman who sought healing from Jesus (Matthew 15:28). It was given in memory of Charles Thomas Crowdy by his widow. The rod of Aesculapius and motto honour Dr. Crowdy’s service as a physician.

XXV. THE BLESSED MOTHER AND THE HOLY CHILD. The words are the first line of the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:46). This window was given by Mrs. Syme Miller, in memory of her son, William Haque Miller, who died in childhood. The boy’s uncle, the Rev. Richard Hewton was the first Rector of St. Philip’s Church.

Provenance of the windows
Windows I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII, X, XII, XVI, XVII, XIX and XXV were designed by Peter Haworth, A.R.C.A, R.C.A., O.S.A, and made under his supervision in Toronto.

Windows IV, XIII and XXII were designed and made by Yvonne Williams of Toronto. She also did the designs for windows XV, XVIII and XX; XV and XX were made by Margaret Chilton, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Windows IX, XI and XXI were designed and made by Montreal’s C.W. Kelsey.

The Resurrection (window V), is the work of Matthew Martirano of the Guido Nincheri Studio in Montreal.

Window XIV was designed and made by Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd., London, England.

Anne Johnston Williams
The Rev’d James B. Pratt

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