Who Worships Where: an agnostic assessment of Toronto’s most formidable flocks
Religious attendance might be in free fall across the city, but over the years a handful of Toronto congregations have managed to stockpile both money and influence. We look at the places where power brokers still kneel before something far mightier than themselves.
Reform Judaism | Since 1856 | 1950 Bathurst St.
The high-powered home of Canada’s largest and most star-studded Reform congregation
$6.2 million: annual revenue (2011)
$2,915: annual family membership fee
$350: High Holiday guest ticket
7,000: total congregants
Martin Luther King spoke here in 1962; esteemed journalists Christopher Hitchens, Charles Krauthammer and Thomas Friedman have addressed the congregation.
Mt. Sinai chair
Roman Catholic | Since 1926 | 24 Cheritan Ave.
The power nexus for Roman Catholic worshippers from Lawrence Park, Hoggs Hollow and North Toronto
$1.4 million: annual revenue (2010)
$25,000: donation from the Black Family Foundation in 2007
3,200: weekly attendance
Blessed Sacrament’s pastor, Larry Marcille, is the chaplain of the Toronto chapter of Legatus, an exclusive Catholic service organization for corporate executives and their spouses started by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.
Anglican | Since 1874 | 300 Lonsdale Rd.
Like an old-money matriarch, Grace goes about its business quietly and elegantly. Well-to-dos from Forest Hill and Rosedale fill the coffers
$2.6 million: annual revenue (2010)
$20,000: total raised at last year’s Grace Once More fundraiser
$80,000: minimum Grace’s two highest-paid staff make a year
Conrad Black married his first wife, Joanna Hishon, at Grace, and his parents’ and brother Montegu’s funerals were here. In 1986 he converted to Catholicism and moved uptown to Blessed Sacrament.
Harold Ballard’s daughter
Lenczner Slaight co-founder
Sikh | Since 1973 | 7080 Dixie Rd.
The largest and busiest Gurdwara (worship centre) in Canada
$2.3 million: annual revenue (2011)
$1,100: one-time membership fee
37: acres of land upon which the 120,000-square-foot Gurdwara sits
40,000: guests who visit during the April 14 Vaisakhi celebration
The Dixie Gurdwara’s 25,000 monthly congregants make it a must-visit for politicians seeking the Sikh vote. Liberal leaders Dalton McGuinty, Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien have all stopped by.
Harper cabinet MP
Auto titan, Raps “super-fan”
University lecturer, ex-MP
Created world’s cheapest tablet
Conservative Jewish | Since 1952 | 1700 Bathurst St.
The synagogue of choice for more traditional observers
$5.4 million: annual revenue (2009)
$250,000: minimum Beth Tzedec’s two highest-paid staff make a year
8,000: attendance on a High Holy Day
Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, CNN analyst David Gergen, Obama’s ex–press secretary Robert Gibbs and journalist Bob Woodward debated U.S.-Israeli relations here.
Human rights activist