Sign honours ‘light of my life’

St. James Cathedral lit at night with its new sign.
The cathedral’s new sign shines at the corner of King and Church streets in Toronto on a chilly evening.
 on January 30, 2024
St. James Cathedral

Lifelong friend inspires parishioner to give

A friendship that spanned half a century has led to the creation of a new electric sign for St. James Cathedral.

The sign, at the corner of Church and King streets in downtown Toronto, was dedicated in November to the memory of Grace Martin, a member of the cathedral who passed away in 2018.

“Grace was the light of my life, and I wondered how I could honour that,” says Daisy Pittis, who donated the funds for the sign.

Bright, attractive and contemporary, the sign informs passersby about the cathedral’s service times and special events. Hundreds of pedestrians pass it every day, along with cars, buses and streetcars.

Daisy Pittis stands beside the sign, dedicated to her friend Grace Martin.

Daisy and Grace had lived together for about 50 years, first in Toronto and then in Caledon and then back to Toronto when Grace, a non-smoker, developed a lung ailment and couldn’t drive anymore.

“It was a beautiful friendship that few could hope to match,” recalls Daisy.

She says Grace brought her back to the Christian faith. A cradle Anglican, Daisy had basically left the faith as a young person. That changed one Sunday when Grace took her to a service at Little Trinity and they heard the Rev. Harry Robinson, the rector at the time, preach.

“It felt like he was speaking directly to me,” says Daisy.

From then on, Daisy’s faith grew and the two women became deeply involved in church life, first at Christ Church, Bolton and then at the cathedral in Toronto. Throughout all the years, Grace’s faith was an inspiration to Daisy and others.

“It was because of Grace that I began to take being a Christian seriously,” says Daisy.

Grace’s death in 2018 was soon followed by the long years of COVID-19. During that time, the cathedral’s sign, which was made of wood, began to suffer from wear and tear. Daisy wondered if it could be replaced by a new electric sign in honour of her departed friend.

After speaking to the Very Rev. Stephen Vail, the rector and dean at the time, the idea slowly turned into reality and the new sign was dedicated in November 2023. The image on the sign was a picture of Grace, smiling out at the city.

Daisy says it is “absolutely wonderful” to honour her friend in this way. “She was such a good person – a really beautiful human being. How often I’ve wanted to honour her, and now that the sign is up, I’m just thrilled. I think she would have loved it.”


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