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Welcome To Mimico, Etobicoke’s Waterfront Community
Mimico is one of Toronto’s older neighbourhoods and has roots stretching back over 150 years. Since its humble beginnings as a village and industrial town it has blossomed into a modern urban community with gorgeous waterfront park land in South Etobicoke.
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History of Mimico
While “The Beaches” is the big city neighbourhood with a small town vibe in today’s Toronto, Mimico used to have its place as the small town in the big city. The region has a rich and well-documented history, though much of it deals with the administrative matter of incorporations into what eventually became the GTA.
In the 1800s, Mimico, Ont., was originally known by the First Nations People as “Omimeca”, meaning “the resting place of the wild pigeons.” These pigeons would stop over in the Mimico area as part of their migratory journeys.
The passenger or “wild pigeon” is now extinct, but its memory lives on in the name Mimico which evolved from the Ojibwe word which found its way into anglophone mouths.
One of Etobicoke’s most prominent businessmen, William Gamble, opened a sawmill on the west bank of Mimico Creek up from the lake, and a small settlement for the mill workers was built nearby. As a devout man, Gamble helped fund Etobicoke’s first church and the settlement had everything you’d need to be incorporated as a town in the early 19th century.
Mimico began to develop in the 1890s below Lakeshore Boulevard, where many of Toronto’s wealthiest families built their summer homes. A few of these homes still exist today.
The town truly began to grow as a year-round community in 1906, when the Grand Trunk Railway opened its Mimico Yards. The need for nearby housing, as more railway workers and their families arrived, led to a building boom
Mimico was incorporated in 1917 and retained its town status until 1967, when it was amalgamated with the borough of Etobicoke. In 2001, it became a community within Toronto.
Landmarks & Notable Features
It may not compare with downtown Toronto’s collection of diplomatic facilities, but Lakeshore Boulevard W. is home to the embassies of both Poland & Ukraine. Interestingly, Poland’s Consulate is in a historic lakefront manor while the Ukraine Consulate has a new office building near Mimico Creek.
Although the pedestrian trail lining Mimico Creek doesn’t begin until just north of the Gardiner Expressway outside of Mimico, the creek itself is a well-known landmark at the very eastern tip of the neighbourhood. Like the neighbourhood itself, Mimico Creek gets its name from the native word “Omineca” which described the now-extinct migratory pigeons which stopped over on their lush waterfront during their journeys. Today, there are 2 gorgeous parks where the creek meets Lake Ontario, plus walking trails which stretch north all the way until Eglinton Ave.
Humber Arch Bridge
Perhaps Toronto’s most visually distinct pedestrian bridge, Humber Arch Bridge sits on the eastern extreme of Mimico crossing the Humber River. It’s large, towering design and wide walking space isn’t typical of pedestrian bridges but the extra space doesn’t go to waste, especially during the summer months. The Martin Goodman trail crosses this bridge and brings hundreds of tourists, cyclists, and visitors each day.
Any local will attest to the absolutely legendary status of Sanremo Bakery on Royal York Rd., but the reputation of this full-service Italian-Canadian bakery and restaurant extends beyond the neighbourhood. Positioned at the top of many “best of the city” bakery lists, Sanremo Bakery has been serving up Italian-inspired baked goods since 1969. That’s not all they serve, either. Sanremo offers a full selection of deli fare plus hot meals and even catering. The bakery’s apple fritter is the claim to fame at this local spot, but there’s no shortage of great food to try.
Train Maintenance Yards
Servicing both Via Rail and GO Transit trains, this massive industrial facility dominates the western-most quadrant of Mimico. To locals it’s not much more than an obstacle to getting around, but the train-yards provide vital maintenance to the city’s infrastructure while providing a good source of jobs in the local community.
Mimico Centennial Library
One of Toronto’s Carnegie Libraries, the Mimico Centennial Library has been around for over 100 years, as the name suggests. Although the building itself is not as impressive as some of the city’s other libraries and the library is not a municipal treasure, it’s certainly well-known amongst locals.
The Waterfront Parks
Most visitors to Mimico come for two things – the waterfront parks and the views they offer of Toronto’s downtown skyline. These parks at Mimico’s eastern extreme may not offer the sandy beaches of Toronto’s East End, but they offer their own unique charm and have the unobstructed views that The Beaches don’t offer.
Things to Do in Mimico
Visit The Waterfront
There’s no shortage of activities on the Mimico waterfront in the summertime. Whether you want to sit down and relax in the shade to have a picnic or read a book, walk or bike the waterfront trail, or simply grab a few photos of downtown, the waterfront is the place to be in Mimico. Trails are accessible even in the wintertime, and the area’s close proximity to the main Lakeshore Blvd. W. promenade makes ducking back for a coffee or a meal quite convenient.
Play Some Tennis
The Mimico Tennis Club is typical of your Toronto community tennis club except for one detail. It’s one of the few tennis clubs in the city which offer red clay courts. You won’t find that fast-surface play easily in other parts of the city, so if tennis is your sport Mimico is a great place to live. However, If you’re simply interested in some casual tennis without the club atmosphere, there are well-maintained hard courts available for public use in Ourland Park on the west side of the neighbourhood.
Indulge Your Passion For Watercraft
If sailing is your passion, Mimico is the place to be in Toronto. Lake Ontario already offers world-class fresh-water sailing, and Mimico is well-appointed for sailing of all kinds thanks to both the Mimico Cruising Club and Etobicoke Yacht Club, both located in Humber Bay Park West along with the Humber Bay Sailing Centre sailing school. Whether you are a beginner or veteran of the seas, there’s a community there for you in Mimico.
Enjoy Humber Bay Parks
It would be a shame to visit this waterfront community without taking advantage of the splendid natural beauty of the waterfront park land. Starting from Mimico Waterfront Park which is located near the bottom of the neighbourhood, you can follow a trail all the way to Mimico’s eastern border and through a number of great lookout points, gardens, and other features along the way. Mimico’s waterfront trails connect up to the Martin Goodman trail which leads all the way through downtown to the East End, making Mimico the perfect departure point for a longer trip through the city.
Shop The Humber Bay Farmers Market
Every Saturday from May 25th to October 5th the Humber Bay Farmers Market takes place in Humber Bay Park West from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. With 30+ vendors offering the full range of organic, vegan, gluten-free, and sustainably sourced goods, the farmer’s market is a great way to start off a day in Mimico. There’s parking available on the market lot, although spots fill up fast. Whether you want to stock up on goodies for the week or simply grab a snack for a picnic in the park, the farmer’s market welcomes patrons of all kinds.
Visit The Butterfly Garden
The Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat is a garden parkette on the south end of Humber Bay Shores Park which is free to visit for some wildlife spotting. This foliage-dense pocket of the park has plants specially selected to attract wildlife, especially butterflies. Of course the availability of wildlife to observe depends on the season, but the community stewardship program which runs the butterfly sanctuary is a terrific place to learn about optimal times to visit and to get a more extensive knowledge of local wildlife. Whether you want to visit to spot some Monarchs – the most common butterfly at the HBBH – or help out pruning some plants for an hour or two, this park of Mimico is great for a new experience.
Walk Mimico Creek
While Mimico Creek runs through the eastern tip of the neighbourhood, the walking trail actually begins slightly north of Mimico’s northern boundary. The trail is not continuous as it stretches north and it isn’t as cut off from the city as the Don Valley and Taylor Creek Trails in the east, but Mimico Creek is still a nice break from hectic city life and offers a more peaceful nature experience than the hugely popular waterfront parks in Mimico.
Catch A Panoramic View of Downtown Toronto
You can catch a great view of Toronto’s downtown core from most sections of Mimico’s waterfront parks, but the real Instagram-worthy snaps can be had at 1 of 3 lookout points – Etobicoke Point at the end of Humber Bay Park West, the far tip of Humber Bay Park East, and Sheldon Lookout Point by Humber Bay Arch Bridge.
As one of Toronto’s older neighbourhoods, Mimico is well-connected to the rest of the city by not only the TTC but by GO Train service as well. The grid layout of the neighbourhood makes choosing a transit route simple and unambiguous. TTC Service is ubiquitous in Toronto, but what sets Mimico aside in terms of convenience is the GO Train which gives fast access to other Toronto neighbourhoods and other cities entirely.
TTC Service in Mimico
Going north or getting to the Bloor-Danforth Line is as simple as catching either the 110 Islington Bus or the 76 Royal York Rd. bus from anywhere on Lake Shore Blvd. W. and above.
Crossing the east-west axis is a little trickier if you are north of Lake Shore Blvd. W. Since the neighbourhood is bisected by railroad tracks, there aren’t many convenient bus routes for getting across Mimico.
Luckily, just north of the Gardiner Expressway there’s Route 80 which takes you along the Queensway either to Sherway Gardens in the west or eastbound to Parkside Dr.
However, if you’re near the water the 501 Streetcar service on Lakeshore will take you all the way to downtown and beyond, but you’ll have to switch streetcars at the Humber Loop. The transfer keeps you on the same route and doesn’t require an extra fare. It’ll take you along the Gardiner Expressway until it meets Queen St. West, then it goes all the way across town to the Neville Park Loop.
It can be a rather enjoyable journey even though the 501Streetcar is one of the more popular streetcar routes in the city. It takes you around the Humber Bay, past High Park, and through one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Best of all, if you get on in Mimico you’ll have a good chance of grabbing a seat before the streetcar gets busy around Roncesvalles Ave.
Use the TTC Trip Planner to map out your journey from start to finish.
Mimico GO Train Station
The Mimico GO Train Station is a transportation amenity that not all Toronto neighbourhoods are lucky enough to have. The centrally-located GO Station grants Mimico residents access to Toronto’s entire waterfront stretch and beyond. With the Presto system in place, switching onto the TTC is simpler than ever as riders can use the same card to pay TTC fares.
Commuters can hop on for a comfortable and stress-free commute to Liberty Village or the downtown core via Union Station.
Those with a farther destination can either transfer onto the Eastbound Line and ride as far as Oshawa. In the other direction, you can get on at Mimico and ride all the way to Hamilton. Although Mimico may not be the most walkable neighbourhood, it certainly has some advantages which it comes to intercity and mid-range travel.
Visit the GO Transit website for full route times and details.
Meet The Neighbours
As a neighbourhood in Toronto’s largest city, Mimico is diverse in terms of age, culture, and the background of its residents. According to the latest census data, the neighbourhood has a population of over 34,000 residents and it’s growing fast. The population change in the 5 year span between 2011 and 2016 alone shows an increase of 28%.
This rapid growth is due in large part to the continued development of the condominium community in the neighbourhood’s east end, a development which shows no signs of slowing down.
The population density is around 5,000 people per square kilometer, although the condominium community pumps that average up considerably.
Over recent years, Mimico has steadily transitioned from a predominantly family community to a hub for working professionals drawn to the condo developments along Lakeshore Blvd. W.
Over 65% of residents are working-age people between the ages of 25 & 64. 60% of residents live in 6+ storey apartment-type housing and a whopping 46% of homes are single person households.
With the proportional number of children and youth well below the city average (10% vs. 15%) and the working age population considerably higher compared with other neighbourhoods (52% vs. 45%), it’s clear Mimico has undergone a demographic change along with its housing development.
Median family income is only slightly higher than the Toronto average at about $93,134, but the proportion of the Mimico population living in what is considered poverty is also below city averages.
Up until recently Mimico has been a quiet family and immigrant community without too many frills. While this type of neighbourhood vibe still remains in the western part of Mimico, a more typically urban culture has emerged due in part to the appearance of condominiums in the east.
The southern part of Lakeshore Blvd. W. is still mostly a residential space with occasional corner shops and the type of local culture typical of a suburban Toronto neighbourhood. Closer to downtown is where the commercial real estate lines both sides of Lakeshore Blvd. and the restaurants and stores give you the idea you are certainly in a major urban centre.
Farther east still is the large condo community which exemplifies the major metropolitan condo lifestyle. Large condo developments often have their own amenities either in the buildings or close by. Many of the neighbourhood’s residents spend over an hour commuting to work and less than 30% take public transit, indicating that there’s more of a car commuting culture to the area.
Real Estate In Mimico
Residential real estate in Mimico can be broken down into 2 categories which can be distinguished geographically. There are waterfront condos densely packed into the eastern tip of Mimico and the rest of the neighbourhood’s residences which cover the majority of its land mass.
Along the parts of the lakeshore there are a number of low-rise apartment buildings, but the vast majority of residential space in Mimico is taken up by single family houses.
As can be expected, closer to the water there are more upscale houses. The northeastern residential zone is especially nice with its old-growth foliage and quiet residential feel.
There are still plenty of great homes to be found farther west. The northwestern section has gentrified in recent years, owing in part at least to the convenient access to the Gardiner Expressway and the close proximity to Mimico Go Station.
The western part of Mimico is strictly industrial, dominated by the Go Transit Maintenance Facility and Toronto Maintenance Centre, and it’s unlikely any rezoning will take place. However, the condo market does continue to expand in the east with lakefront property at a premium.
A large empty lot at the eastern tip of Mimico is expected to become a condominium community fuelled by the city’s ever growing need for high-density housing.
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According to municipal boundaries, Mimico is a South Etobicoke neighbourhood beginning at the Gardiner Expressway and stretching right down to the Lake. It spans from Ashbride’s Bay in the East to just past Kipling Ave. in the West with a thick slice of the Southern shoreline cut out around Dwight Ave.
Mimico’s most distinguishing geographic features are Mimico Creek, Ashbridge’s Bay Bridge, and the Humber Bay Parks which the creek spills into.
The Lake Ontario shoreline has been spectacularly transformed into a number of interconnected lake-front parks each offering its own unique setting. These green spaces offer gorgeous panoramas of the Toronto downtown plus a place to leave behind the fast pace of the urban environment for a few minutes.
Next we have Mimico Creek, a thin and winding creek cutting through the northern tip of the neighbourhood and ending up in Lake Ontario where it’s capped off by two parks situated on peninsulas which spill out onto the lake – Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West. Although you can’t walk the creek from the lakeshore itself, a few hundred meters north begins a trail which stretches north for several kilometers. You’ll find plenty of park space, sights, and sounds along the way which are definitely worth it for a run, a bike ride, or just a casual stroll.
A bit Further north-east of Mimico is Ashbridge’s Bay, where the Humber River meets Lake Ontario. There isn’t much green space to speak of here, although the Humber Bay Arch Bridge is a sight to behold for its size and shape which isn’t typical of pedestrian and foot-traffic bridges.
Most of the remaining land covered by Mimico – which is most of it – is flat, featureless, and covered in single-family housing. This residential portion of the neighbourhood is bisected by the railroad and has Mimico GO Station directly in the middle. Quite convenient for commuters working in the downtown core since Union Station is the second stop on the Lakeshore Eastbound Line.
Ourland Recreation Centre (Local Community Centre)
Located on Ourland Ave. near the Western border of the neighbourhood, this municipal community centre is one of the more well-appointed community centres in Toronto. Indoor facilities are limited to a gymnasium and bocce ball court, although the centre is surrounded by ample greenspace complete with a baseball diamond, outdoor pool, and well-maintained tennis courts.
Available programming includes children’s sports camps and a raquet club for both children and adults. Check the city’s website for a full list of programming.
Immediately south of the train maintenance yard is Mimico Arena, a small local sporting venue that’s home to an ice rink in the winter and a lacrosse league in the warmer months. The arena may be modest in size, but it’s still a great place to skate with the family during one of the leisure skating periods offered in the winter. Athletically inclined youth and adults can join one of the sports leagues offered the rest of the year, whether that be hockey or lacrosse.
Mimico Adult Centre
Offering adult learning courses and ESL studies, Mimico’s Adult Centre provides help for newcomers to Canada hoping to improve their English as well as programs for established Canadians hoping to pick up a new skill or hobby. Classes include everything from self-care pain management to ballroom dancing to bridge and calligraphy. The centre has a positive, encouraging atmosphere and patrons fondly describe the feeling of being in an environment full of like-minded adults from all walks of life working together to build a new skill.
Mimico’s only library is the Toronto Public Library Mimico Centennial Branch, but it’s quite sizeable for a local branch. Built over 100 years ago thanks in part to an endowment from The Carnegie Corporation, it was updated in 1966 and has been in steady operation since.
The branch offers all the amenities you’d expect from a major metropolitan library branch plus a spacious second floor with ample room to study, read, or relax.
Mimico Branch is also one of the few Toronto Library Branches which features both meeting rooms and a Theatre / Auditorium you can book.
You can take advantage of Library programming for patrons of all ages. These programs include everything from March Break camps for kids to adult book clubs.
Take a look at the library website for an up-to-date list of programming.
Schools & Education
Mimico has no shortage of both private and public schools, though the only high schools in the immediate area are just slightly outside of the neighbourhood’s boundaries. Mimico High School closed in 1988. John English Junior Middle School now occupies the Mimico Highschool building.
In addition to regular TDSB elementary schools, Mimico is home to Montessori Schools, Bi-lingual Schools, and Nurseries. Both the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District Schoolboard service this neighbourhood.
Seventh Street Junior School, 101 Seventh St, 416-394-7820
Second Street Junior Middle School, 71 Second St, 416-394-7640
John English Junior Middle School, 95 Mimico Ave, 416-394-7660
George R Gauld Junior School, 200 Melrose St, 416-394-7830
David Hornell Junior School, 32 Victoria St, 416-394-7690
St. Leo Elementary, 165 Stanley Ave, 416-393-5333
Childcare & Private Schools
The Mildenhall School, 35 Ourland Ave., 416-259-2822
Oak Learners, 394 Royal York Road, 416-820-5233
Phoenix Montessori School Inc, 2 Station Rd., 416-695-1212
Like many suburban Toronto neighbourhoods, Etobicoke is split between people who live in the neighbourhood and commute to the city’s various business areas for work and local workers who staff essential amenities like stores, restaurants, and local businesses.
The western part of Mimico is largely industrial zoning so the area has a number of corresponding businesses where residents could find labour. Typical of the periphery of a major city, office space in this part of the city is much more affordable than downtown or even midtown Toronto. As a result, small to medium businesses and recently started companies often call Mimico their home and may be in a position to take on employees.
Although not in Mimico proper, just to the south are both Humber College Lakeshore Campus and Toronto Police College, both of which offer both primary and ancillary employment to many Torontonians.
For all of its comfort and convenience, Mimico is definitely not among Toronto’s most walkable neighbourhoods. It’s currently sitting at a walkability score of 62, probably due in part to the fact that it’s bisected by some industrial zones, namely the enormous Toronto train maintenance yards and the Ontario Food Terminal.
With that said, it gets more walkable farther East on the lakeshore where more condominiums and modern development has grown. There you’ll find restaurants of all kinds as well as grocery stores and other amenities, not to mention access to green space and recreational opportunities.
The 501 Streetcar route makes moving around by foot even easier through the south end of the neighbourhood, though the only real north-south transit opportunities are by main roads on a bus.
Some of the area’s walking is tremendously enjoyable, namely the waterfront and parts of Lakeshore Blvd. However, parts of western Mimico are mostly industrial and if you choose to walk them you’ll find yourself on busy roads with little to offer in terms of scenery or amenities.
Ultimately, Mimico is more of a commuter or car owner’s neighbourhood. With so many residences in a small area there simply isn’t enough commercial retail space outside of Lakeshore Blvd. W. to service such a large population.
Bikeability in Mimico is another story. The neighbourhood has a bikeability score of 77, owning largely to the convenient thoroughfare provided by Lakeshore Blvd. W. and the side streets which make up much of the residential area.
With the exception of Royal York Rd. and Islington Ave., most of the streets have lower traffic volume and are therefore more pleasant and safe to cycle. Cycling is far more convenient than walking if you need to cross the train tracks. Since the only overpasses are on main thoroughfare roads, getting to those track crossings is much faster via bike.
Cycling gets truly enjoyable on the waterfront trail. It’s more of a leisure trip, but taking a bike out onto the Humber Bay Parks and Humber Bay Shores parks is a top cycling experience.
Although much of the neighbourhood is taken up by private residences there is more than ample greenspace if you know where to look and you’re willing to spend a few minutes getting there.
The crowning jewel of Mimico is its lake shore parkland. You’ll find waterfront park after waterfront park in Mimico’s east end, and practically each park is complete with beaches, trees, and plenty of greenery. Just be aware that the beaches in this part of Toronto are of the rocky variety, unlike Woodbine Beach in The Beaches.
You can get a bit more privacy at Mimico Waterfront Park, although it’s less travelled because it is considerably smaller than its counterparts. Moving north along the shoreline you’ll find Humber Bay Park West and Humber Bay Park East flanking the outlet of Mimico Creek into Lake Ontario.
These two parks sit on wavy peninsulas splitting away from the creek.
The western half of this park is a trail featuring several lookout points along the way and ending with an off-leash dog park. Etobicoke Yacht Club takes up most of the real estate of the peninsula, but the park is still a worthwhile trip for the views, especially if you have a pet to take advantage of the park.
Humber Bay Park East is a peninsula full of parkland and a trail that loops around. The park’s trail connects up with the rest of the shoreline parks to the north, passing through Mimico Butterfly Garden along the way.
You can then follow Humber Bay Shores Park all the way northeast out of the neighbourhood to Ashbridge’s Bay where you’ll find Humber Bay Arch Bridge and the popular Sheldon Lookout.
Each park in this area has something to offer, but they are all united with 1 quality. Tremendous panoramas of Downtown Toronto.
However, if you should find yourself in need of a change of scenery you can also visit one of the local parks set into the neighbourhood. You have Ourland Park to the west, Coronation Park in the centre, and Mimico Memorial Park to name a few.
There’s always Mimico Creek a bit north, but you have to leave the neighbourhood to get there. You’ll also find numerous parkettes around the southern end of Mimico and beyond. There are some truly cozy parkettes at the end of streets which hit the lake.
The Mimico area has 3 dedicated dog parks, all of which are located in the Humber Bay belt of parks. There are other places available for dog walking, but the designated off-leash zones are all concentrated in the neighbourhoods east end where the green space is most abundantly available.
Humber Bay Park West Dog Park
The most isolated yet most rewarding dog park in Mimico, Humber Bay Park West Dog Park has something to offer for dogs and their owners. As an off-leash park, it gives canines the opportunity to frolic, socialize, and exercise freely while their human companions enjoy nature and take in some of the best views of the Toronto skyline in the city. Unobstructed thanks to the sweeping Humber Bay, park visitor get a clear shot at the CN Tower and surrounding downtown core.
Humber Bay Park West
Although it doesn’t support off-leash dog walking, this section of the Humber Bay peninsula is a bit more accessible and offers the added bonus of public washrooms. It’s got great scenery and lookout points of its own, plus you can walk several hundred meters of Lake Ontario Beach!
Humber Bay Shores Park
This park is also strictly on-leash for dogs, but dogs can enjoy nearly a kilometer of beachfront grass, trail, and beach to sniff around and explore. The park is lined by condos on the west side, so the accompanying amenities are never too far away to make the area convenient and enjoyable. It’s also just a few steps from Lakeshore Blvd. W., so catching a streetcar to another part of the city is simple and convenient. There’s also a parking lot just to the south of the park, but it fills up quickly.