About the church
St. Peter’s Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Toronto was founded in 1948, soon after the arrival of the first Estonian refugees, who fled the Soviet occupation of their homeland. The first home of the congregation was St. John’s Lutheran Church and the first pastor was Reverend Oskar Puhm.
The congregation grew quickly. Sunday School, confirmation classes and the Ladies’ Auxiliary were established. In 1949 the Estonian Supplementary School began under the patronage of the congregation until the following year, when the number of students became so large that Pastor Puhm requested that the Toronto Estonian Society take responsibility for the school.
In 1951 funds began to be collected for the construction of a church. This money along with a loan from the Missouri Synod was used to purchase the property at 817 Mt. Pleasant Road.
The Estonian architect Mihkel Bach designed the sanctuary and the cornerstone was laid on March 20, 1955. The consecration of the completed building took place on September 25, 1955 and Toronto mayor Nathan Phillips was present at this special service.
When Pastor Puhm retired in 1982 Reverend Andres Taul became the new pastor. Upon his retirement in 2016 Dean Mart Salumäe was chosen as the congregation’s pastor. Reverend Salumäe had come from Estonia to serve as assistant pastor in 2011. Prior to that assistant pastors included Rev. Gustav Piir, Rev. Edgar Heinsoo, Rev. Helmut Rüdmik, Rev. Oskar Gnadenteich and Rev. Bruno Ederma.
Lembit Avesson was the first church organist. He was followed by Jaak Kivik, Inga Korjus, Roman Toi, Riho Maimets, Hanne Becker and Marta Kivik. In 1958 the church choir was founded and conducted by Udo Kasemets. Subsequent conductors include Lembit Avesson, Charles Kipper, Asta Ballstadt, Eerik Purje and Rosemarie Lindau. The choir ceased activities in 2010.
During the peak decades of activity 1950-1980 hundreds of congregants have been baptized, confirmed and married in our church. In recent years, however, funerals outnumber more happy events by far, and these new, complicated times are compelling us to reimagine and reorganize our mission, for which we pray for God’s help and guidance.