In 1908, the Armenian inhabitants were consisted of 6 single young persons in Montreal. Soon afterwards, other young persons came from Turkish Armenia to join them. After the Armenian Genocide, some of the group of their relatives also joined them, by forming the future Armenian community of Montreal, consisting of 50 people.
In the beginning of 1940, in oratory disposed on behalf of St. John’s the Anglican Church, periodically Mass was performed, by Rev. Fr. Zkon Tcharkhougian visiting from the United States. In 1948, the Administrative body has formed by His Eminence Archbishop Diran Nersoyan, Primate of all Armenians in America, during his visitation to Montreal.
In 1952, by mitigation of the immigration laws, approximately 250 Armenians were migrated from Greece, the majority were settled in Montreal. In 1956, after the major occurrences in Istanbul, and especially in the late 1950’s, during civil war in Egypt, the enormous number of Armenians were came to Canada. The third numerous migration was held in 1975, when the Lebanese civil war has started. The next decades continuously, small groups of Armenians came from Ethiopia, Iran, and Middle East, by making the number of Armenians 30,000 in Montreal.
The Sunday Masses were performed regularly starting by 1950’s, and the sub-committees of the Church worked actively. The governmental registration of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church of Montreal took place in 1957.
Successively, in regard of the swift multiplication of the Canadian Armenians, in 1967, the Diocesan Council of the Eastern Armenians of America and His Eminence Archbishop Torkom Manoukian has established, the Substitute Primacy of Canada, and they denoted His Grace Bishop Vatche Hovsepian, Substitute Primate of all Armenians in Canada, by having Montreal as the headquarters’ center.
The Parish Council of the elementary period, by magistracy of Mr. Khatchig Shiroyan, Chairman, took decision to purchase two sub buildings existing on the Parc Avenue street, having the intention to erect a Church, in the future on the same land. In 1964, under the leadership of the present Parish Council and Dr. Arto Demirdjian, Chairman has formed the Construction committee. In 1965, His Eminence Archbishop Syon Manoukian, Primate of Armenians in America, during his visitation to Montreal, he raised a fundraising event, from which 37,000 dollars were raised for the construction of the Church. In 1967, the Annual General Meeting decide to purchase a piece of land, existing on Henry Bourassa Street. The next year, during the holy visitation of His Holiness Vasken I, Supreme Patriarch of all Armenians, the land received the Patriarchal blessing. Consequently, the Architectures’, and the Ladies Auxiliary Committees were formed.
The Establishment of St. Gregory Armenian Cathedral of Montreal:
In 1969, for the celebration of 100th Anniversary of the famous Armenian musician Father Gomidas, the Fairmount St. Gilles United Church has been disposed, by the intervention of Rev. Fr. H. Zarifian, by the meantime announced that the Church building was for sale. The Annual General Meeting of February 18, 1969, unanimously decided to purchase that Church in $250,000. On Easter Sunday, March 29, Bishop Vatche Hovsepian has performed his first Mass. The Fundraising donations started to accumulate vigorously, by the Armenian Americans, and the benefactor of A.G.B.U., Mr. Alex Manoogian has accomplished, by donating the completed amount of $100,000, the rest was converted into annual bill payments. On June 20, 1969 the documents has been signed by the Parish Council assembly.
The building was erected in 1929. It holds 750 parishioners, and has a main hall, which was mainly, entitled “Marie Manoogian” Hall, the name of the benefactor. Also, the building has smaller hall on the second floor, which was renovated by the contribution of Karibyan family, and so called “Karibyan Hall’, adjoined with offices, where in September, 1970, the first Armenian daily school, A.G.B.U. Armen – Quebec Alex Manoogian School of Montreal was established. The Altar of the Church with its Armenian version was constructed, by benefactor Mr. Krikor Mazmanian, from Boston. The altar’s architectural design was made by Architect Zaven Baykar, also from Boston. The official consecration of the Church held on December 6, 1970 by the Patriarch of Istanbul, His Eminence Archbishop Shenork Kaloustyan, by the participation of His Eminence Archbishop Torkom Manoukian, Primate of all Armenians in America, and his Grace Bishop Vatche Hobvsepian. The Church renamed St. Gregory the Illuminator.
On the contrary, by owning a huge premises created heavy financial burden on the community, thanks to our parishioners, and with the help of consecutive Parish Councils’ and Sub – Committees’ collaboration, it becomes possible to conclude the mortgage payments in less than 10 years. In the meantime, the United Church kept an office at the Church, and instead of paying rental price, every Sunday they performed their Mass, but consequently they left the building permanently, by the cause of dwindling of their community.
At this time, our Church flourished and many committees were created, and started working vigorously. Among them were “Komitas” Choir, Ladies Auxiliary Committee, “Pourastan” periodical, Saturday Armenian School, “Mamigonian Cultural” Committee, ACYOC, Consecrated Bread Committee, and Sunday School etc.
In 1980, with the blessing of His Holiness Vazken I Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians, was declared to establish an independent Diocese for Canadian Armenians, and on October 6, 1984 Very Rev. Vazken Keshishian was elected as the first Primate of Armenians of Canada, and the second floor of the Church becomes the official residence of the primate.
In 1987, his Holiness visits Canada and blesses the newly established Diocese. After the passing away of Archbishop Vazken Keshishian, in 1990, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian becomes the Primate of All Armenians in Canada, until 2003. In May 2003, The General Assembly of the Canadian Diocese elected His Grace Bagrat Galstanian as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, until November 2014.
Presently, Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan is the Primate of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church of Canada.
After the development of congregation, Pastor’s duties were performed by the following Pastors: Rev. Fr. Zkon Tcharkhougian, Rev. Fr. Khoren Mamigonian, Very Rev. Fr. Isahag Ghazarian, Very Rev. Fr. Vazken Tatoyan, Rev. Fr. Ghevont Papazian, Rev. Fr. Mampre Biberian, Rev. Fr. Housig Nichanian, Rev. Fr. Guregh Yetenegian, Rev. Fr. Mamigon Oskanian, Rev. Fr. Sahag Balian, Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Arzoumanian, Rev. Fr. Gomidas Sherbetdjian, Very Rev. Fr. Shenork Kasbarian, Very Rev. Fr. Bared Yeretzian, Rev. Arch. Fr. Partogh Kherkadjian, Rev. Fr. Zareh Zarkarian, Very Rev. Fr. Ararat Kaltakdjian, Rev. Fr. Vazgen Boyajyan, Rev. Fr. Hay Ari Tanashian, Rev. Fr. Yeghia Kervancioglu and presently Rev. Fr. David Margaryan is the parish priest of the Church.
During the past 35 years, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church had minor and major renovations, but the 75 years old building, continuously adhere costly renovation problems, that were taken care of by their benefactors, and cordial donations of parishioners.