St. Thomas’ Anglican Church (Bracebridge, Ont.) held its first services in 1866. The Rev. H.B. Wray of Orillia officiated. In the 1860s, Anglican congregations in the Muskoka region were considered part of the parish of St. James' in Orillia. The first church was a log building located on the site of the present St. Thomas’ Cemetery. Services were held every fourth Sunday at this location until moving to the Orange Hall on Manitoba Street, at which time services were held every second Sunday. In May 1870, The Rev. Thomas Ball became the first incumbent at Bracebridge. He arrived from St. James' Cathedral, Toronto immediately after his ordination as a Deacon.
Rev. Ball raised $1,000 to pay for a new church building, a picturesque, white-painted, wooden church located on the site of the present parking lot, which opened on October 6, 1872. It was at this time, the parish changed its name to St. Thomas' in honour of their first rector and in appreciation for his hard labours.
On December 6, 1896, the current red-brick church was opened by the Right Rev. Edward Sullivan, Bishop of Algoma. Bishop Sullivan had dedicated St. Thomas’ Cemetery in 1885. The church property was donated by Arthur A. Mahaffy, who was later a member of the Provincial Legislature and who subsequently became a judge in Muskoka. The cost of the church was $4055.35. On Ascension Day (May 8, 1902) Bishop George Thorneloe consecrated the church. In 1904 the bell tower was erected and the 1,500 pound bell was presented to the church by Mrs. R. M. Browning in memory of her husband. Mrs. Browning also donated Browning Memorial Hall on the site of the original church. This has now been replaced by the new Browning Hall, built at the east end of the church in 1993.
The present church retains its original 1896 appearance, with the additions in the bell tower in 1904 vestry extension in 1956. The architectural style is of a modified Gothic and was designed by Charles Gibson, who also designed St. John's Church, Norway; the Earls Court Public Library, and Christ Church, Mimico. An unusual aspect of St. Thomas' is the exposed wooden truss system with the large half-circle arches, resting on hammer-beam truss wall brackets -- a rarity in Canada. Also, the exposed brickwork is of interest; each wall consists of two single layers joined by metal 'headers' or 'tie pieces' with air spaces between. The red kiln-baked bricks that are used in the building are believed to have originated in the area: the site of the current church was a brick makers’ yard well over hundred years ago.
On April 24, 1985, St. Thomas' was designated a Heritage Building under By-Law 35-32 of Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1930, Chapter 337. In 2006, the church received a Built Heritage Award from the Muskoka Heritage Foundation in recognition of maintaining the church in its original Victorian appearance.
Rectors of St. Thomas': Rev. H.B. Wray (1865), Rev. Thomas Ball (1870 -1874), Rev. J.S. Cole (1874 -1883), Rev. S.E. Knight (1883 -1884), Rev. E.S. Stubbs (1884), Rev. James Boydell (1885 -1899), Rev. Canon W. A. J. Burt (1889 -1909), Rev. F. H. Hincks (1909 -1919), Rev. F.G. Sherring (1919 -1928), Rev. J.S. Smedley (1929 -1940), Rev. R.K. Trowbridge (1940 -1945), Rev. F. F. Nock (1945 -1948), Rev. S. M. Craymer (1948-1952), Rev. A. J. Thomson (1952-1957), Rev. George M. Black (1957-1958), Rev. Canon D. N. Mitchell (1958-1983), Rev. Canon S. G. Tomes (1983-1986), Rev. Canon A.V. (Terry) Bennett (1987-1994), Rev. Dale Huston (1995-1998), Rev. Rosalie Goos (1999-2005), and Rev. Kelly Baetz (2006-)