7 Joseph McCausland Limited, Toronto

Career and St. John the Evangelist

Iraboty Kazi

McCausland is the oldest surviving stained glass studio in North America with five generations of the family overseeing the work of the firm from 1856 to the present. The founder of the studio, Joseph McCausland was born to Anglican parents in County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1828. Joseph would earn a reputation as being a leading decorator, painter, and designer and manufacturer of stained-glass windows until his death in Toronto in 1905. In 1835, McCausland’s family immigrated to Canada when Joseph was seven years old. He received his training in Toronto and was a practicing artisan by the age of eleven. He founded the company in 1856. The bookkeeping records of the firm, reveal that McCausland’s first assignment was a stained glass window for the chapel of Holy Trinity Church in downtown Toronto.

The studio quickly found success in a period of growth of churches in the burgeoning city and province. Over the years, McCausland expanded every area of his business and began to break down the monopoly held by European stained glass windowmakers. In fact, the studio, albeit on rare occasions, sent Canadian-made windows to churches in Germany and England. The McCauslands won the top award for their exhibit at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.

In 1897, the stained glass department of McCausland became a separate company run by Joseph’s eldest son, Robert. The painting and decorating business was inherited by Joseph’s son, Frank Herbert, who was the president of the firm from 1901 to 1940.


Aylott, Chris. “Stained Glass Windows Follow History’s Footsteps.” Canadian Churchman (October 1986): 12-13.

Burns, Patrick.  “Robert McCausland Limited, Toronto, founded 1857.” Institute for Stained Glass on Canada. https://www.glassincanada.org/news/article-2/.

Foley, R. S. The Stained Glass Windows in Runnymede United Church. Toronto: Runnymede United Church, 1969.

Hamilton, Alice and Douglas Richardson. “McCausland, Joseph.” In Dictionary of  Canadian Biography. Vol. 13. University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mccausland_joseph_13E.html.
History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario. vol 1, Toronto: C. Blackett Robinson, 1885.

MacDonald, Colin S. “McCausland, Joseph.” Dictionary of Canadian Artists. Vol.4 (Ottawa: Canadian Paperbacks, 1974): 957.

McStay, Angus. “Windows to Glory: Maclean’s: December 1, 1947.” Maclean’s. December 01, 1947. https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1947/12/1/windows-to-glory.

Purden, Carolyn. “Light Still Shines in Oldest Stained Glass Studio.” The Anglican (Jan.1996): 8.

Spicer, Elizabeth. Trumpeting Our Stained Glass: The Church of St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario. London: St. John the Evangelist, 2008.

Watt, Robert D. “The Art Glass and Stained Glass.” In The British Columbia Parliament Buildings, ed. Martin Segger. Vancouver, B.C.: Arcon, 1979, 68-78.



Chancel, Anahi
Joseph McCausland Limited and Robert McCausland Limited, “Chancel.” St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario, 1888 and 1936 (Photograph: Anahí González). Ray Robinson, Reredos. St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario, 1977-1978 (Photograph: Anahí González).

The Good Shepherd

Joseph McCausland Limited, Toronto, 1888

“Our Late Rector the Very Reverend Michael Boomer, Dean of Huron, Who Entered into Rest A.D. 1888”

Donated by the Ladies’ Aid

Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, is clothed in regal purple, gold, and red clothes. He holds a lamb and a shepherd’s staff. The lamb has a branch of a thorn bush caught in the fleece of its flank to depict a lost sheep being found. In a quatrefoil motif directly below the Christ figure is a gold eagle, a symbol of St. John the Evangelist. The dove of the Holy Ghost is in a blue panel above Christ. The Greek symbols of Alpha and Omega, symbolizing the beginning and the end, are on either side of the dove.

In 1936 the window was modified as windows of John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary were added. As Spicer noted, the original windows were scriptural medallions.[1] At this time, we have not been able to find information relating to the original compositions. Nevertheless, The Good Shepherd is the oldest extant work in Canada by Joseph McCausland Company.

J McCausland, Good
Central Window: Joseph McCausland Limited, The Good Shepherd. St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario, 1888 (Photograph: Anahí González). Flanking Windows: Robert McCausland Limited, St. John the Baptist and The Blessed Virgin Mary. St. John the Evangelist, London, Ontario, 1936 (Photograph: Anahí González).

Michael Boomer was born in Hill Hall, Lisburn, Ireland, on January 1, 1810. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, earning his B.A. in 1834. After migrating to Canada, he became ordained in 1840 and was sent by Bishop John Strachan of the old Diocese of Toronto to a mission in Galt, where he served for 32 years.

At the age of 62, he became the Principal of Huron College, where he worked from 1872 to 1885. While there he served the congregation in the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist, where it had its first home, and again when it moved to the chapel of the new Chapter House of the planned Cathedral of the Holy Trinity of November 2, 1873. In 1877, Boomer presided over the organizational meeting of The University of Western Ontario at Christ Church and the following year, with the grant of the Charter, became the first President of the University until 1885, when ill health forced him to retire from both Western and Huron College. [2] He died in 1888.


[1] Elizabeth Spicer, “Echoes of the Evangel,” St. John the Evangelist Church News (December 1977): 17.
[2] Elizbeth Spicer, Trumpeting Our Stained Glass Windows (London: St. John the Evangelist, 2008), #14.


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Joseph McCausland Limited, Toronto Copyright © 2021 by Iraboty Kazi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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