Like many churches, Transfiguration has an array of beautiful stained glass windows in our sanctuary, nave, and chapel. Below you will find information on the three artists who created much of our stained glass, as well as several photos.
Yvonne Williams (1901-1997)
Yvonne Williams is without question the single most important and influential figure in the creation of architectural stained glass in Canada during the twentieth century. Born of Canadian parents in Trinidad in 1901, she came to Canada in 1918. After graduating from the sculpture program at the Ontario College of Art in 1927, she turned her attention to the medium of painted and stained glass. Her training and studies took place in the independent studios of Toronto, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Boston, augmented with trips to Europe to study the great medieval stained glass cycles. Her first studio commissions in Toronto came in 1936, and within 10 years her workshop had become the centre which generated a new, modern vision for Canadian stained glass. In 1947, she set up her studio in a fashion similar to the European Art and Crafts glass houses. While she remained in charge, she brought in a group of associates and artists, often filling commissions on a collaborative basis. By the late 1940s, their windows were described as the most exquisite windows in this country, and they can be seen in every province in Canada. Through her work, Canadians came to accept stained glass as an art medium expressing the ideas of a contemporary society.
Along with Esther Mary Johnson, Yvonne Williams designed the sanctuary window at Transfiguration. Depicting the Transfiguration of the Lord, and dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Canon Charles W. Hedley (our first rector), the window was installed by a group of his friends and dedicated on Sunday, November 26, 1939. According to the 1939 leaflet, the window “contains between 1500 and 1700 separate pieces of glass, each of which is specially treated and arranged so as to add to the spiritual interpretation of the Transfiguration. The central figure is that of Christ shown in whiteness as of light, and around which is a radiation of golden rays, the rays of glory that spreads to lighten the world, as it lightened and transformed his disciples. On the left is St. Peter standing and St. John kneeling, while on the right is St. James, the intellectual.”
Rosemary Kilbourn (1931- )
Rosemary Kilbourn was born in Toronto and graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1953. She later attended the Chelsea School of Art and the Slade School in London, England. On herreturn she was commissioned to do a mural for the new dining hall at the University of Western Ontario. From 1965 to 1980, she was an associate of the Yvonne Williams Studio. Some of her windows in Toronto can be seen in St. James’ Cathedral, St. Thomas’ Church (Huron Street), and St. John’s Church (York Mills), as well as St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in Ottawa. Rosemary Kilbourn was also active in creating wood engravings for publications, including two books by her brother William Kilbourn and one by Farley Mowat (The Desperate People). Her etchings, often of religious themes, led her to create stained glass works.
This “Tree of Life” window on the north side of the sanctuary was created by Rosemary Kilbourn and installed in 1988. The memorial dedication reads, “The New Jerusalem; To God’s Glory and in loving memory of our sister Inez from the Laviolette Family.”
Gustav Hahn (1866-1962)
Trained in Germany and Italy, Gustav Hahn already had extensive experience in European art when he immigrated to Canada with his family in 1888. His talent was immediately recognized as he set to work painting panels and designing furniture and other home furnishings for the houses of prominent Toronto citizens. At this time he also designed theatre facades, curtains, and proscenia (the part of the theatre stage in front of the curtain). He became Canada’s most important artist working in the Art Nouveau style. In 1892 he was commissioned to paint murals on the upper walls and ceiling of the Legislative Chamber of the new Ontario Legislative Building. Though unsigned, the rhythmic, stunning Art Nouveau frieze of 1896 on the walls of the billiard room of Spadina House is recognized as being Gustav Hahn’s work.