Sep 29, 2017

Church of Scientology headquarters moving to downtown Guelph

Workers clean the front of the building at 40 Baker Street on Wednesday afternoon. The Church of Scientology is moving into the building, renting out the office space and turning it into a headquarters for Scientology activities in Canada.
40 Baker Street is the new Church of Scientology hub of operations for Canada

Chris Seto
Guelph Mercury
SEPTEMBER 28, 2017

The building at 40 Baker St. is to become the new Canadian headquarters for the Church of Scientology.

Yvette Shank, the public affairs director with the Church of Scientology, said the downtown Guelph location is being transformed into a hub of operations, a rallying point for Scientology activities across the country.

She declined our request for a phone interview, but agreed to take questions through email.

“Guelph is very central to us and convenient for Cambridge and Toronto,” she wrote. “Guelph is a great place with all the amenities anyone would want.”

The Church is renting the entire building. The group began moving in earlier this month. Shank wrote there will be no public facilities at 40 Baker. It's not a church — only administrative personnel will work there.

“These offices serve to support the actions of local churches, missions and groups in their respective areas and serve as a co-ordinating and rallying point for all Scientology activities associated with those churches,” she wrote.

“We are at the forefront of spearheading the church’s massive social mission, including the world’s largest nongovernmental drug education campaign, the largest human rights education campaign and other programs.

“We are acutely aware of the world in which we live and we are dedicated to helping mankind.”

40X Mobile

The yellow stucco building is the former home of the Out of Poverty Society and Chalmers Community Services Centre — organizations that served the city’s marginalized, homeless and at-risk population.

In April, the building was vacated. Chalmers moved into a building on Carden Street and the Out of Poverty Society transformed into 40X Mobile, still serving the downtown population by setting up tables just outside the building at 40 Baker St.

Ed Pickersgill, the Out of Poverty Society founder and co-ordinator, said the new tenants have been supportive of the 40X program. As workers bring items into the building and clean up the space, they’ve made sure to leave room for the 40X tables near the sidewalk offering food, water and personal hygiene items.

No one has complained about the daily service offered between 12 and 3 p.m., Pickersgill said, but every few days he’s usually asked by someone working in the building if 40X Mobile has found another location to set up the program.

Pickersgill said the group is actively looking to find a ground floor unit for rent somewhere in the downtown, but so far, every offer made has been turned down. The group has been setting up in front of 40 Baker every weekday since April and typically sees 70 to 100 people drop by each day.

The Church of Scientology was founded by the American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.

The nearest church of Scientology to Guelph is in Cambridge, at 1305 Bishop St. N. According to a spokesperson at the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, this property is classified as a place of worship and is entitled to exemption from property taxes.

According to the latest national household survey in 2011, there were 1,745 people who marked Scientology as their chosen religion. The Church itself does not have status as a registered charity, but a Freelton chapter of its addictions treatment program, Narconon, does.

Shank did not respond to a question as to whether the organization had any plans of establishing a church in Guelph.

“We look forward to being a part of the City of Guelph and do our share to help this community we find ourselves in,” she wrote.
by Chris Seto

Chris Seto is a reporter/photographer with the Guelph Mercury Tribune. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @topherseto


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