Since 1916, the corner of Bloor/Ritson has been consecrated as an Orthodox Church. Correctly translated as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, it was colloquially known by a number of designators in English, and most commonly as St. Mary’s. It was the centre of religious – as well as cultural and social life – for an early wave of Ukrainian immigrants to Oshawa who worked together to have it built.
Coinciding with the post-war wave of Ukrainian immigrants, in 1953, St. Mary’s was enlarged and rebuilt completely. On the same location as before, it now had, as the Toronto Star called it, “Byzantine-style domes” and it overall resembled “a castle in a kingdom of bungalows.” Eventually, however, the number of parishioners dwindled significantly. Deciding against joining St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church (located a block away at Bloor/Simcoe St. South), the aging congregation closed its doors to new members.
Eventually, they began to rent the church out to the Greek Orthodox community and, in 1987, sold it to them. Under the condition of the Ukrainians still being able to use the space for services, the parish became the Greek Orthodox Church of Evangelismos Tis Theotokou (Annunciation of the Mother of God), Saints Nectarios and Gerasimos.
Almost a century after it was built, in 2012, the Greeks sold the church to the Romanians, as they needed more space for themselves. It is now known as the Romanian Orthodox Church of St. Stephen the Great and St. Nektarios. More recently, aesthetic changes to the domes – and the crosses that crown them – have been made. Even so, the contribution of the original Ukrainian community is felt and their designated service is once a month, with a priest driving in from Scarborough.