St. Helen's Roman Catholic Church, NE corner Dundas St. W. & Clarens Ave., Brockton. Summer 2002.


 
 
 
 
 
 
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ALMOST A CENTURY LATER and St. Helen's is still there, its steeple a longtime landmark in the old west end. The village of Brockton is long gone, its only remnant the official heritage street signs along Dundas and College. St. Helen's is the second-largest Catholic church in the Toronto area after St. Michael's cathedral.

In the early days, the parish, like much of Parkdale and Brockton, was almost entirely Irish. After World War Two, it hosted waves of Polish, Ukrainian and Italian immigrants; today it's known as a primarily Portugese parish. The interior is a terrific example of Catholic church art; the walls are covered in painted ornaments and scenes from the life of Christ and the saints, most of the work done in the 20s and 30s. Processional statues of the Virgin Mary, carried at yearly parades, take pride of place on either side of the altar.