St. Thomas’ Anglican Church

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The Rev. Thomas Ball

In 1866, the first services of our Church were held in Bracebridge by The Rev. H. B. Wray of Orillia.
All Anglican parishes in Muskoka were considered to be part of the parish of St. James' in Orillia. The first church was a log building located on the site of our present cemetery. Services were held every fourth Sunday. This building was only used for a few years until they began to meet in the Orange Hall building on Manitoba Street.  At this time, services were held every second Sunday.  In May 1870, The Rev. Thomas Ball became the first incumbent at Bracebridge.  He arrived from St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, immediately after his ordination as a Deacon.

The Rev. Ball soon raised one thousand dollars to pay for a new church building.  The picturesque, white-painted, wooden church (built on the site of our present parking lot) was opened on October 6, 1872.  It was at this time, the parish changed its name to St. Thomas' in honour of its first rector and in appreciation for his hard labours.  On December 6, 1896, a new red-bricked church was opened on our present site. The property for this was donated by Arthur A. Mahaffy, who was later a member of the Provincial Legislature and who subsequently became a judge in Muskoka.  At first, the church building lacked a bell tower but in 1904, the tower was erected and the fifteen hundred-pound bell was presented to the church by Mrs. R. M. Browning in memory of her husband.  On the site of the first church, Mrs. Browning also donated Browning Memorial Hall.  This has now been replaced by the new Browning Hall, built in 1993, at the east end of the church.

The present church retains its original appearance as it was  completed in 1896.  The tower was added in 1903 and the vestry extended in 1956.  The architectural style is of a modified Gothic and was designed by Charles J. Gibson, who also designed St. John the Baptist Norway Church, Toronto, the Earl's Court Public Library, and Christ Church, Mimico.  An unusual aspect of St. Thomas' is the exposed wooden truss system with the large half-circle arches, resting on hammer-beam truss wall brackets, a rarity in Canada.  Also, the exposed brickwork is of interest; each wall consists of two single layers joined by metal 'headers' or 'tie pieces' with air spaces between.
On April 24, 1985, St. Thomas' was designated a Heritage Building under By-Law 35-32 of Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1930, Chapter 337.  In 2006, St. Thomas' received a Built Heritage Award from the Muskoka Heritage Foundation in recognition of the church having been maintained in its original Victorian appearance.  We now celebrate one hundred forty-one years of St. Thomas' Anglican Church, Bracebridge!

Rectors of St. Thomas'

Rev. H.B. Wray

Rev. Thomas Ball
1870 - 1874


Rev. J.S. Cole

1874 - 1883

Rev. S.E. Knight
1883 - 1884

Rev. E.S. Stubbs

Rev. James Boydell
1885 - 1899

Rev. Canon W.A.J. Burt
1889 - 1909

Rev. F.H. Hincks
1909 - 1919

Rev. F.G. Sherring
1919 - 1928

Rev. J.S. Smedley
1929 - 1940

Rev. R.K. Trowbridge
1940 - 1945

Rev. F.F. Nock
1945 - 1948

Rev. S.M. Craymer
1948 - 1952

Rev. A.J. Thomson
1952 - 1957

Rev. George M. Black
1957 - 1958

Rev. Canon D.N. Mitchell
1958 - 1983

Rev. Canon S.G. Tomes
1983 - 1986

Rev. Canon A.V. (Terry) Bennett

Rev. Dale Huston
1995 - 1998

Rev. Rosalie Goos
1999 - 2005

Rev. Kelly Baetz
2006 - 2020

Rev. Judie Cooper
2020 -


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