Demo logo

For the "Augustinians in Canada" website, Click:
This website is:

Home Retreat


Vocations Marylake's
Gallery Links

History of Marylake

"The information recorded below was taken from a pamphlet I purchased at the Marylake Shrine. The author is Aemon Burchill, O.S.A. I found it to be an excellent read on the history of the Marylake grounds."
Sebastiano G. (John) Tantalo - Webmaster


We believe that the EMBLEM of our Order definitively symbolizes the basis of Augustinian Spirituality. The open book clearly represents the intellectual searching which must be part of a living faith. The flaming heart boldly suggests that our developing love must be profound and even passionate. The arrow cleverly recalls the divine energy, the stimulating grace, which is the source of our thinking and loving. This actually represents the Spirit of God, dynamically piercing our minds and hearts and calling us to a vivid and continual experience of the growth of faith, hope and love in our personalities. The emblem, then, portrays the fundamental aspect of our charism; the inner experience of grace activating us to learn, to love and to live toward God. This is what INTERIORITY really is.

The MOTTO of our Order, "One mind and one heart unto God" adds the second note to our charism - COMMUNITY. We Augustinians should be working to encourage each other intellectually and affectively. This actually describes a continuous process of ever more profound communication among ourselves. The discipline of Augustinian Spirituality is the self-sacrifice demanded to open ourselves to each other and to attempt in very humble ways to really understand each other so that we can appreciate and love each other more sincerely and more genuinely. Augustinian community is making real communication happen, each and every day of our lives together. This must be at worship and prayer, at work, at meals, at recreation, and at every practical opportunity. Or as St. Augustine put it: "Ut animas nostras et Deum simul et concorditer inquiramus." (That together and harmoniously we inquire about our lives and our God).

In summary: The Augustinian Charism is a lifelong spiritual project of acquiring intelligible interiority and communicative community.


Researched and Written by
Aemon Burchill, O.S.A.

(The first page of this pamphelt contains a picture of St. Joseph with child Jesus and below it a picture of the Marylake Shrine. At Marylake, St. Joseph is a PATRON and PROTECTOR. Hence, the Augustinians at Marylake belong to "THE ORDER OF ST. AUGUSTINE, PROVINCE OF ST. JOSPEH".)

Forty years ago, a visitor to Marylake drove very carefully over the potholes on the muddy surface of Keele Street, frequently made impassable by the snow of winter or the thaw of spring.

The visitor might see the sun setting behind the wooded rolling hills, enjoy a cast of thousands of trees; mighty oaks, towering pines, splendid spruce, fiery firs, brilliant beeches and glorious maples.

Of all these trees, none are original, because over two hundred Years ago when Yonge Street was being built, the surrounding land was divided into farms and the countryside cleared.

In order to preserve the woodland of Marylake in prime condition, the first seedlings of red pine and white spruce were planted in the spring of 1949 along two sides of the lake. In the spring of 1981, seedlings, 38,000 in number, and consisting of red and white pine, white cedar, white ash and white spruce, silver maple, European larch and black locust, were planted. These seedlings as they develop and grow, will help, along with the present fields, woods and headlands, together with the lake and its watershed, to provide cover and protection for the abundance of wildlife, birds and fish, which find a haven at Marylake.

(There is a picture here of the lake with 4 men in a boat)

At Marylake the visitor contemplates the mystery of God. Nature helps the visitor, whether walking or resting, -listening to the melody of the robin; the quiet splashing of the water; -or the not so quiet splashing when an industrious beaver slaps his tall; or, watching geese and goslings majestically bobbing on the water of the lake; or the lake gulls swooping down noisily.

Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, C.V.O.; D.C.L., V.D., 1859-1939, was a royalist, a devoted military officer, a capitalist, financier, philanthropist and builder. He built a famous castle in Toronto called Casa Loma. He was a boy who never grew old, a gentleman of Toronto.

Over a period of years he painstakingly acquired land acre by acre in the Township of King, which eventually grew to 860 acres, and included a 40 acre lake, which he named after his first wife Marie. Tenants at first worked the land as Sir Henry had a lodge built for himself, as well as horse and cattle stables. During the summer months he employed 24 gardeners to keep the grounds and flowerbeds well tended.

Marylake and the surrounding area was formed two and one half billion years ago by the Wisconsin glacier, and is part of the Oakridge moraine, that collection of stone, gravel and sand which was deposited in this area. On one occasion, Sir Henry decided to build an island in the lake. He had his men construct a huge pile of dirt on the ice of winter, assuming the dirt would drop with the spring thaw, and provide the island. However the dirt did not drop, but spread and scattered over the lake. Now, instead of having a nice firm bottom, it is rather muddy, and has lost the characteristics of the other kettle moraine lakes in the area. The lake is mainly spring fed, perhaps from an underground river, sometimes the ice on the lake is not always the same thickness, so Sir Henry that year of the island, lost a team of horses and a sleigh with its load of dirt, as the ice broke under the weight. The lake provided summer time ice for the lodge and guests.

North of the stable is a fieldstone building which housed the herdsman and his family, attached to this was the dairy and ice house. These buildings are now the Convent of Good Counsel and the laundry. Anyhow, Sir Henry used to have his men cut blocks of ice from the lake in the thick of winter, load the ice on sleighs, and then drawn by horses to the ice house, where they were stored in sawdust, for summertime use, especially in his bar, which is the block house he purchased from another location, and rebuilt on the Marylake site. It is now over 180 years old, and has had different uses and has been renovated a number of times. It is presently in use as storage space for summer equipment.

When Sir Henry decided to enclose the estate, he went with a sketch of the property to see about the cost. In one half hour, after figuring the number of concrete posts, the quality of page wire and labour, etc., he contracted on the spot for $18,000, a large sum at that time. This included the ten foot high fence, which enclosed a large woodlot in which was established a game sanctuary stocked with deer and elk.

The lodge was built surrounded with a veranda, which could be fitted with windows in the winter, or screens in the summer. On occasion Sir Henry would have his guests sitting around the veranda, highballs at hand and rifles at the ready, while beaters would drive wild game enclosed by the fence along the lake, in front of the lodge, and the would-be hunters supposedly would enjoy a good days sport.

(There are 3 pictures here of Sir Henry Pellatt's Lodge)

The Lake Marie Athletic Association, founded and promoted by Sir Henry, was headquartered in a large barn on the property and served as a meeting hall for the village young people. The barn was destroyed by fire, while serving as the implement shed for the present farm operations.

The original brick and stone barn, burned in 1949, and has been rebuilt. The original roof was of slate imported from England, the brick and stonework was elaborately designed. The impressive iron and stone gate which gives entrance to the property, is located on Keele Street, two kilometres north of the King Side Road, and is on the southeast corner of the property. Just inside is the gate house, which has remained the same as it was built, except for modern conveniences, and is rented to a private family.

(There is a picture here of the Main Gate dated 1953, "Entrance to Marylake from Keele Street")

Due to economic depression, Sir Henry decided to sell the estate in King. He sold to a newly formed association, headed by Reverend M. J. Oliver, C.S.B., along with a group of lay and clergy assistants. In the spring of 1936 the group was incorporated and the Pellatt estate purchased. At this time, the name Lake Marie was changed to Marylake, and the Marylake Farm School was founded. The purpose of the school was agricultural in nature, and also served as a rural development community.

In the early 1940's Archbishop McGuigan decided to have established a shrine to Mary to be a spiritual centre and place of pilgrimage for the Archdiocese of Toronto. On August 25, 1942, negotiations were opened for the purchase of Marylake by the Augustinian Order. The Reverend Athanasius Pape acted for the Order, and on September 17 the first Augustinians arrived. The following day the Sacred Congregation of Religious issued a decree establishing the new Augustinian foundation at Marylake, and Sir Henry Pellatt's lodge, situated where the shrine is now located became the home of the Augustinians. The house was formally opened on October 1, 1942 and on the same day the Archbishop selected its full title "Marylake-Our Lady of Grace" in recognition of a very ancient devotion of the Augustinians to the mother of God under this title. Thus an estate, built at the turn of the century as a monument to capitalism, today stands as a monument to Spirituality and to Mary, the mother of God.

On June 7, 1964 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon his Eminence James Cardinal McGuigan performed the ceremony of laying the corner stone of Our Lady of Grace Shrine Church at Marylake. King City, Ontario. Under threatening skies and with two thousand visitors in attendance, the Cardinal stated "finally after twenty years here is a dream come to fruition."

Marylake is now well known as a spiritual centre for the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, under the direction of a community of Augustinians. The main focus is as a centre of prayer and pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady of Grace. Another focus is as a spiritual health resort for weekend retreats. To help support this apostolate the community maintains a herd of about one hundred Hoistein cattle, with all the support that entails.

Thursday, November 30, 1978, the Archbishop of Toronto, Emmett Cardinal Carter, rededicated the newly completed Shrine Church of Our Lady of Grace at Marylake, King City, Ontario, declaring it to be a delightful and inspiring experience, also in the dedication homily the Cardinal recognized the Augustinian character of Marylake, and the value of a place for pilgrimage, retreat and prayer.

(There are 3 pictures in this section of the Shrine and Residence)

The main building which houses the community is built on three levels, from lake level upwards. There are entrances and exits on all levels. The building, including house and church is constructed of split field stone native to Marylake, and reinforced concrete and brick.

The Shrine Church has attracted wide attention because of the grandeur of design and the sheer poetry of its conception. It is the work of Mr. J. Stuart Cauley.

The Shrine Church and Blessed Sacrament Chapel are both ellipsoidal in form. Irregular sized pieces of glass in multicolour shades, forms the bell tower, (extending one hundred feet high, two hundred feet from lake level, about five stories high) spectacularly encloses the all-purpose circular sanctuary, enclosing it with multicoloured light.

The bell tower itself, like a huge crown sits atop the church. The bell was cast in bronze in Troy, New York, weighs 2,500 pounds and sounds the musical tone "E" above middle "C," and is activated automatically by a programmed time clock.

The sound system in the church was set up with the aid of an oscilloscope, assuring quality of voice without distortion. The acoustics in the church are superb, so much so that during the course of a year both professional and amateur groups of musicians use the church for rehearsals and performances.

The organ in the Marylake church is a melding of two famed instruments. Both organs are Aeolian-Skinner, made in the same factory, and in the same year 1928. One organ came from the Eaton estate, the other from the Seagram estate. The intricate task of combining the two organs into one unit with two consoles, was completed after four years, with the combined effort of the community; of Mr. Harry P. Livingston, a scientist and electronic engineer, who was buried with funeral mass from the shrine on Wednesday, April 15, 1981 ; and of Mr. J. Stewart Duncan, a retired organ company executive and organ builder. The great and choir organ is located on the west side of the church, the swell organ on the east side. The great and choir organ has over three thousand pipes, fifty pipes, plus harp and chimes. After much work and patient waiting, the organ played for the first time, ringing out the Christmas message at the midnight mass 1973, by the noted organist Mr. Fran Jacino.

The sculpture at the south end of the church was a gift of Gerald L. and Mary Timmins in memory of their father. The work was designed and executed by Mr. William McElcheran. The theme of the work is "Our Lady's Role in Salvation History." Briefly in ascending order we see:

Adam and Eve tempted.
The sacrifice of Abel.
Angels foretell the birth of Isaac.
Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac.
The annunciation to Mary.
The presentation of Jesus in the temple.
Mary bringing all of us to the risen Christ.

Through all of this the tree of knowledge of good and evil weaves and intertwines upwards to become the Cross.

(There is a picture here of the tree of life)

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is located on the east side of the church. It is here that the community celebrate daily the liturgies of the mass and hours. The tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament weighs two and a half tons, is of travertine marble and was sculpted by Mr. Earl Neiman, who also fashioned the celebrants chair and lectern in the same material. His wife, Maria, executed the bronze crucifix candleholders and sanctuary lamp, as well as the terra-cotta stations of the cross. The fifteenth station "the resurrection" is an innovative concept.

The first "Gordon Taylor Memorial Lecture" was delivered on May 30, 1979 by Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge who had as his topic: "Saint Augustine: His relevance for the modern world." Mr. Gordon Taylor died in 1977. He was a long-time friend and benefactor of Marylake

One of the buildings on the property was altered to serve as a retreat house, and on August 27, 1943, the first retreat was conducted under the captaincy of Mr. Alexander G. Sampson, an honorary Augustinian and long-time friend of the Marylake Augustinians, and an ardent promoter of the retreat apostolate. This first group of retreatants were known as "The pioneer group of Our Lady of Grace," and was directed by Rev. Athanasius Pape, O.S.A.

(There is a picture here of the Retreat house and also of a Pioneer group of retreatants)

This retreat house proved to be too small, so it was enlarged, to provide simple but satisfactory accommodations for sixty people. It contains comfortable and air-conditioned chapel, conference rooms and dining room. It was blessed and opened October 19, 1952 with about seven hundred people in attendance. The retreat apostolate at Marylake has been abundantly blessed. Over the years regular groups have made the Marylake Retreat House well known and well attended. Marylake is blessed with spacious grounds, surrounded by an atmosphere of peace and quiet, which is conducive to recollection and prayer no matter what the season of the year.

On December 10, 1950, four members of the Sisters of Saint Rita arrived from Germany to serve the Marylake Retreat House in the domestic and kitchen apostolate. They laboured faithfully for twenty-five years at this post. Due to age they regretfully returned to their convent in Germany. A new group, the Sisters of Good Counsel from Mexico took over the apostolate. Both groups of sisters are affiliated to the Order of Saint Augustine.

The term shrine refers to a place where a relic, holy object or miraculous apparition receive special veneration from the people, also to a church so designated. Marylake was designated a shrine on October 1, 1942, by the then Archbishop McGuigan of Toronto, thus becoming a pilgrimage centre, a place of prayer and devotion to honour Mary under the title "Lady of Grace."

Since then, Our Lady of Grace Shrine has drawn thousands of pilgrims, as well as retreatants, from not only the Archdiocese of Toronto, but from all Ontario, all Canada, indeed from every continent. In its short history of forty years, the grace and spirituality that has been dispensed from Marylake to people of many creeds, races and tongues has been incalculable.

The Augustinians are committed by a deep desire to serve the spiritual needs of the people of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Devotion to "Mary - Lady of Grace" is believed to be of Portuguese origin. As legend has it, fishermen off the coast of Portugal, brought up in their net, a picture of Mary. They offered it to the Augustinians in Lisbon, where it was given a place of honour in the church of Saint Augustine. The spot became a famous Marian Shrine, and the people were blessed with many favours so that the picture came to be known as the Lady of Graces (Gifts).

The principle reason that the Augustinians were invited to the Archdiocese of Toronto, was to promote devotion to Mary, and to venerate her under the title "Our Lady of Grace." Over the years, this has been accomplished. A renewed awareness of Mary's place as Mother of God, and of her role in the Church, has once again come to the minds of Catholics. Marylake will be here in the future, as will be the Augustinians, to promote devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and Our Lady of Grace.

The Augustinians welcome all who wish to come as pilgrims or retreatants to Marylake. Men and women are invited to make a spiritual retreat on any of the forty weekends, that retreats are conducted at Marylake Retreat House. Men wishing to make a private retreat, may do so at the guest house of the Augustinians.

Other opportunities of enhancing the spiritual life of the people of Toronto are: March through May: Days of recollection, and/or confirmation preparation days are made available to students and teachers; May through September: Marylake is a centre of pilgrimage, with the possibility of confession in various languages.

(Another picture of the Retreat House)


Pentecost Sunday
1934: Racine, Wisconsin founded
1938: Monastery, Nova Scotia, founded
1944: Delta, British Columbia, founded
1945: Marylake, Ontario, first mass of first Canadian Augustinian.

November 11, 1961, Philip Pocock - Coadjutar Bishop of Toronto, officially established the Parish of Sacred Heart, King, entrusting it to the care of the Augustinians at Marylake. The parish was formerly a mission territory of Saint Patrick's Parish, Schomberg. Father Reinhard Burchhardt was the first pastor.

On November 15, 1965 the provincial headquarters of the Canadian Augustinians was transferred from New York to Marylake.

From July 8 - 12, 1968 the first provincial chapter of the Augustinians - Province of Saint Joseph in Canada - was held at Marylake.

1962 - A Marylake chapter of the secular Augustinians for men was founded.

1982 - A Marylake chapter of the secular Augustinians for women was founded.

Established October 1, 1942
Leo Ebert 1942-47
Athanasius Pape 1947-53
Suitbert Moors 1953-59
Arnulf Hartmann 1959-66
Cyril Smetana 1966-68
Suitbert Moors 1968-70
Isidore Ceiss 1970-75
Allan Charnon 1975-83
Cyril Smetana 1983-87
Louis Campbell 1987-91
Eugene Tramble 1991-
Leo D. Cameron (Current Prior)

(There are 7 pictures concluding the pamphlet:
1. Air Force Men
2. First Boy Scout retreat
3. Clergy from Hamilton
4. Men's retreat
5. Chaplains of the R.C.A.F. (Royal Can. Air Force)
6. Marylake Shrine & Monastery
7. Airial photo of Marylake Shrine

Travel Direction to Marylake

From the East: Take Hwy. 404 northbound to Bloomington Rd. exit. Go westbound on Bloomington until you reach Keele St. At this point you will see the Marylake gate straight ahead.

From the West: Take Hwy. 400 northbound to the King Side Rd. exit. Go eastbound on the King Side Road until you reach Keele St. Turn left and go north on Keele St. for about 2kms. You will see the Marylake gate on the left-hand side.

Demo logo

Father Eugene Tramble O.S.A.
Prior, Marylake Monastery
P.O. Box 550
13760 Keele St., King City
Ontario, Canada, L7B-1A7
(905) 833-5368
Fax (905) 833-5569

Web page maintained by:
S.G. (John) Tantalo