Markham, Ontario is the expansive north eastern suburb of the GTA that includes both a dense urban centre and more rural peripheral communities.
Known as “The High-Tech Capital” for being host to numerous multinational corporations and over 1,000 technology companies, Markham nevertheless maintains a quiet and comfortable atmosphere for a city of its size.
Read on to learn everything you might need to know if you’re thinking of buying a home, selling your property to move elsewhere in the city, or simply interested in one of Ontario’s largest population centres.
Markham’s history begins in the 1790’s with the arrival of William Berczy, a German artist who first surveyed and led settlers into what is today the northern GTA. Although Berczy’s scheme eventually crumbled the settlement continued under the domestic supervision of John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor who named it after his friend the Archbishop of York, William Markham.
The early 19th century in Markham was characterized by the difficulties of homesteading, but by 1871 the arrival of the Toronto & Nipissing Railway – a line still in use to this day – brought prosperity to the area. By the turn of the century, Markham was officially incorporated into a village and had grown to a population of 8,152.
It wouldn’t be until the 1970’s that Markham would outgrow it’s agricultural origins and enter a period of rapid economic and population growth, largely resulting from the urban sprawl of neighbouring Toronto.
Explosive growth and industrialization towards the end of the 21st century has transformed much of Markham’s farmland into housing and commercial space, yet natural landscapes are preserved north of Major Mackenzie Drive and in Rouge National Urban Park.
When technology companies began moving into Markham in the 80’s and international immigration took hold, the population skyrocketed nearly 40% in under a decade. Still, it wasn’t until 2012 that Markham was officially labelled a city despite a population over 300,000 residents.
Located in Southern Ontario’s York Municipality, Markham is one of the largest cities in the Greater Toronto Area that’s famously known for a thriving local industry, award-winning city planning, and a strong sense of community.
Like most larger Canadian cities, cultures of all kinds have made a home in Markham – especially following the population boom in the latter decades of the 20th century. Markham is the self-described “Most Diverse Community” in Canada, making it an ideal place to call home.
While the southern stretch of the city is brimming with dense suburban life, the northern stretch of Markham is practically rural with quieter country roads and sleepy communities stretching up to Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Real Estate in Markham
As a large and relatively modern suburban city, Markham’s residential real estate is predominantly in the form of single-family detached homes and high-rise condominiums. With the vast majority of residents living in single detached homes it’s no surprise that Markham is an appealing place to settle down for young families and immigrants alike.
Much of the residential housing is concentrated around the transit corridor created by Highway 407 & Highway 7. These neighbourhoods exemplify modern urban design with curving streets and cul-de-sacs to make safer, more pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods.
Large condo developments are clustered around major intersections, particularly to the south-west, closer to Toronto. Regardless what type of dwelling Markham residents live in, they can count on an abundance of greenspace thanks to the city’s award-winning urban design. It’s never too far to the park in Markham.
The main shopping fare available in Markham comes in the form of large shopping malls, plazas, & big box stores. A more boutique, local-business shopping experience can be found on Main St. in the historic part of Markham, but the area’s rapid development into a suburb led to a reliance on large-scale commercial centres to serve the quickly growing population.
There are numerous other small shopping malls and plazas in Markham, many of them hosting businesses which cater to the large Asian community.
Markham residents enjoy an extensive range of recreational opportunities and facilities both publicly and privately run.
The city runs a Recreation Department with 12+ community centres scattered throughout the Markham area, each offering a unique range of programming, activities, and facilities. Most facilities run seniors clubs, intramural sports leagues, fitness classes, and swimming lessons where facilities allow.
Markham’s Sports & Recreation Department runs the following facilities, each with its own individual amenities in addition to the multi-purpose spaces found in all municipal community centres:
True to its history as a city made possible by the railroad, Markham remains highly connected to the rest of the Greater Toronto Area as well as neighbouring regions.
As a suburb, the primary method of transportation for most residents is by roads but rail transit is highly accessible & convenient for intercity travel.
Public Transit in Markham
The city of Markham is serviced by York Region Transit, an amalgamation of several former transit systems in the area. Prior to 2001 Markham Transit managed municipal public transport, but today the neighbouring Richmond Hill, Newmarket, and Vaughan are all covered by the one transit system. This amalgamation makes getting around the northern GTA highly convenient for residents.
Connections to the TTC are available primarily through the Viva Bus system, a series of rapid transit routes running along Yonge St. from Finch Station as well as from Don Mills Station to Markville Mall through Unionville.
There are also several non-express TTC connections to Markham on main north-south streets like Warden Ave., McCowan Rd., & Markham Rd. These TTC routes require an additional fare after crossing Steeles Ave. in either direction.
Intercity travel is also made possible by GO Buses departing from Markham’s 3 main stations – Unionville GO Terminal, Cornell Terminal, and Markham-Stouffville Hospital Bus Terminal.
Travelling By Rail
The very same rail transit line which once brought prosperity and spurred growth in Markham is still transporting commuters back and forth to all corners of the GTA & beyond. GO Transit’s Stouffville line stretches from Union Station in Downtown Toronto all the way to Lincolnville, passing through Markham on the way.
Recent transit expansions have brought expanded service hours and destinations to this leg of the GO Transit network. With 4 stops within the municipality of Markham, commuters working in Toronto have ample opportunity to make their connections to the city centre.
Langstaff GO Station grants Markham residents access to another north-south GO Train Line, although the station is located at the extreme edge of Markham’s boundaries.
No VIA Rail service is available directly from Markham but travellers can take the GO Service to Union Station where trains depart to destinations all over Ontario and Canada.
Travelling By Car
Markham is not as well connected as other parts of the GTA when it comes to highways although drivers won’t be struggling to get around. The major highway which passes through Markham from east to west is Highway 407, a toll road that connects to Burlington and Oshawa.
York Regional Road 7, also known as Highway 7, is another east-west arterial road although it is often congested with drivers seeking to avoid paying tolls on the 407.
On the north-south axis is Highway 404 which starts in the core of Toronto and extends all the way up to Lake Simcoe. Markham Rd. also turns into a 2-lane highway once it clears the hustle and bustle of Markham’s main residential & commercial zone.
As Ontario’s 4th largest city, Brampton is a Toronto suburb which gives its diverse residents access to big city amenities without compromising too much on personal space.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about Brampton if you’re considering buying property here, selling your home and relocating, or simply interested in this vibrant & historic Greater Toronto community.
The story of Brampton begins with John Elliott, a man living in what was then a small settlement called “Buffy’s Corner” after the only significant building in the area – a tavern. In 1834 Elliott allotted parcels of land and named the region after the English town of the same name.
By 1853 Brampton was officially incorporated as a village and boasted a population of 50 residents. 20 years later in 1873, Bramptons population jumped up to 2,000 residents and earned the village official recognition as a town.
Part of the reason for this rapid growth was the Grand Trunk Railway which began passing through the village in 1858, making Brampton’s mark on the map. Two other landmarks from this time period which made Brampton a significant population centre are the Peel County Courthouse Jail and Registry offices, both of which are now part of the Peel Heritage Complex in downtown Brampton.
Growth would continue over the next hundred years as Brampton gained its nickname as “The Flower Town of Canada,” for its predominant industries – flower nurseries and greenhouses, the first of which was established back in 1863.
By the mid 1970’s, Brampton had amalgamated several peripheral townships and even parts of Mississauga. Soon after the city would get a large growth spurt due to immigration which made it one of the most diverse cities in Canada.
This north-western suburb in the Greater Toronto Area has a large immigrant population coming predominantly from the Indian subcontinent and making the city one Canada’s most diverse population centres.
Life in Brampton grows out from around the primary major intersection of
The 410 and 107 highways, the latter of which is lined with shopping, restaurants, and Bramalea city centre.
Brampton attracts young families and professionals of all kinds, in part because it gives residents the opportunity of living in a sizable city without being too far away from Toronto. As of 2017, Brampton was named the youngest community in the GTA with a media resident age of 33.7.
Although industry in Brampton has moved away from the greenhouses which gave the town its nickname, it remains a large economic centre. The primary industries operating in Brampton today include advanced manufacturing, communication technology, logistics, life science, & more.
On the cultural side of things, Brampton may not boast the same amenities as neighbouring Toronto yet offers plenty for its residents in the form of the Peel Art Gallery, the Rose Theatre performing arts venue, and a number of museums & archives housed in historic 19th century buildings.
Real Estate in Brampton
Since Brampton’s population exploded close to the turn of the 21st century, many of the properties in the Peel region are newer or recently renovated. These newer homes are built in the sub-division style, more often situated on a gently curving cul-de-sacs and crescents than the grid-type structure you’re likely to find in Toronto.
The highest density of housing is in suburbs away from major highways, and the vast majority of these homes are fully-detached single family homes. Another perk to the relatively modern design of Brampton neighbourhoods is plenty of greenspace & parks between communities to give residents plenty of living space.
For all of its modernity, Brampton still holds on to a bit of the past. Historic neighbourhoods such as Nelson St. West and Washington block surround the Four Corners intersection. A stunning range of historic mansions also remain, many converted or repurposed into single family dwellings or administrative buildings over the years.
As always, you can count on Frank Leo & Associates for advice on your individual circumstances. Simply contact us and let us know how we can help.
Brampton’s primary shopping venues can be grouped into two types of shopping districts.
There are the large suburban commercial centres like the Bramalea Mall that are common to any suburban city and a “main street” shopping district in the city’s historic Four Corners downtown area.
Bramalea City Centre serves as the largest shopping mall in the area, similar to Mississauga’s Square One and Toronto Eaton Centre. It provides the standard big box store fare as well as major clothing, sports, and electronics stores. Food options also abound with all the big names available.
Peppered throughout Brampton you’ll find smaller malls, shopping centres, and plazas which provide a similar shopping experience but on a smaller scale.
The Four Corners downtown shopping district provides a more traditional shopping experience at the intersection of Main & Queen Streets. Here you’ll find more boutiques & local businesses as well as non-franchise restaurants of all kinds.
It’s a great place to go to enjoy the shopping experience & surroundings as opposed to dropping in to buy a specific item. Shoppers can take a break for coffee, stroll the historic streets, or even learn something about them at one of the local museums.
Brampton is home to over a dozen municipally-run community recreation centres, each with different facilities but all of them offering programming and intramural leagues for all ages. Whether it’s lane swim, some ice time at the rink, or a simple game of pick-up basketball, there is a venue for it in Brampton.
Outside of city-run recreational facilities, numerous gyms both general and specialized are available to residents. Whether you’re looking for a traditional workout or something more exciting like a trampoline park there are businesses which can accommodate that experience.
A perk that comes with Brampton’s spacious layout is the abundance of Golf & Tennis clubs throughout the township. Both public and private tennis clubs are located in parks all around the area. There are also a number of golf courses in Brampton proper, or residents can take a drive just out of town to some of the more rural courses in the area.
Of course for Bramptonians simply looking to take their recreation in the form of a casual stroll there’s the city’s many parks, greenspaces, and conservation areas to choose from. Major greenspaces include Meadowvale Conservation Area, Heart Lake Conservation Park, & Claireville Conservation Area.
These areas require a bit of a commute, so for more convenient recreation many residents opt to visit one of the many parks tucked away between the neighbourhoods – Chinguacousy Park, Duggan Park, & Centennial Park just to name a few more prominent parks. As an added bonus, many of these greenspaces include bodies of water, like Etobicoke Creek running through Duggan Park.
As a suburban community of the Greater Toronto Area, Brampton is well connected by practically every form of transportation. From the 400-series highways which cross-hatch it’s borders to main thoroughfares like Main St. which extends from Hurontario St. in Mississauga, there’s no shortage of ways to get around in Brampton.
Coupled with GO Transit & VIA Rail service, Brampton is a convenient community just a short commute away from many of Southern Ontario’s other towns and cities.
Public Transportation Infrastructure in Brampton
Brampton has good public transit coverage for a city of its size with the primary type of transportation being buses. Local transit is serviced by Brampton Transit.
The city’s transit system also connects to other GTA transit systems including MiWay, York Region Transit, & TTC for connections to adjacent cities plus GO Transit for travel to more distant destinations.
Commuters also have the option of using Brampton’s Bus Rapid Transit system, called Züm. Zum’s fleet of hybrid-electric busses runs along the city’s primary arteries – Main/Hurontario Streets, Queen St./Highway 7, Steeles Ave., Bovaird Dr./Airport Rd., & Queen St. West/Mississauga Rd. While there is overlap between Züm and regular Brampton Transit, it serves as an express transit option for commuters travelling further distances within the city.
Finally, GO Bus connects Brampton with York University as well as TTC Subway stations at York Mills & Yorkdale Mall.
Travelling By Rail in Brampton
Brampton’s rail coverage is ample, perhaps owing in part to the fact that the city grew to what it is today largely thanks to the Grand Trunk Railway.
Today, both the Orange-Brampton Railway Short Line & the Canadian National Railway Line run through the heart of Brampton. These lines are covered by both GO Transit & VIA Rail service.
In the Westward direction, Brampton is situated near the centre of the Kitchener GO Transit Corridor, giving commuters access to cities to the west of the GTA and Union Station to the east.
VIA Rail service connects to Brampton as part of the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor and everywhere in between the two terminal destinations.
Travelling By Car in Brampton
Like any major suburb, Brampton is rife with highways and major roads. Most notable are the 400-series highways, like Highway 401 from Toronto or Highway 410 which runs north-south through the centre of Brampton down to Mississauga.
Highway 407 borders Brampton on the south and provides another option for drivers looking to avoid the congestion of the 401.
Aside from highways, the historic Main St. is the city’s primary north-south artery and turns into Hurontario St. in Mississauga going south. On the east-west axis is Regional Road 107, the city’s main east-west street which transitions into Queen St.
Buying or Selling Real Estate in Brampton
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Although it’s only a recent motto, “A Little North, A Little Nice” deftly captures the spirit of life in Richmond Hill since its early inception.
Located in the southern part of York Region and containing a population of nearly 200,000, Richmond Hill is one of the GTA’s popular commuter suburbs that combines a slower pace of life with close proximity to the big city.
While modern suburban development is what makes it a comfortable and quiet place to live today, Richmond Hill has in a sense always been true to the slower pace of life.
The Beginning of Richmond Hill
While the name “Richmond Hill” wouldn’t grace the lips of residents for decades to come, its first settlers were the Munshaws : a family of 7 from Pennsylvania arriving in the spring of 1794 in search of a place to call their own.
They cleared themselves a plot of land in the modern-day Elgin Mills area where they welcomed the first European-born resident of Richmond Hill – their daughter Susan. Despite a large and growing family the isolation proved too great and they relocated to an area closer to Highway 7.
Over the course of that year several other settlement attempts were made, but issues with land claims, crop failures, and citizenships drove them all to be abandoned. The first permanent residents of the area came a few years later to occupy the Northeast corner of Yonge St. & Major Mackenzie Dr.
Since the land was allotted and parcelled, a successive string of settlers were granted lands by the Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in order to develop the area. These early residents were either being rewarded for military service with land or otherwise believed to be capable of fostering prosperity in the growing settlement.
The initiative was part of the Lieutenant Governor’s special plan for Yonge St. which excluded crown and clergy reserves and made all of Yonge available to settlers.
It’s largely due to this plan that Yonge St. is the artery connecting the northern GTA and that we still have stretches of it which feel like small town main streets. Once such place is just north of Major Mackenzie Dr. at Centre St.
The younger Miles excelled as a community leader, serving both as a justice of the peace and a lieutenant during the war of 1812. Although his name is no longer attached to the place he worked so hard to support, a testament to his sustained effort stands near the Yonge/Major Mackenzie intersection.
Miles invited a Presbyterian minister to set up a parish for the community and the church they built would eventually turn into Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church, which serves the community to this day.
One story has the name coming from the city’s first schoolteacher, Benjamin Bernard. Apparently homesick for his native Richmond Hill in England, Bernard would lead his students in performances of the song “The Lass of Richmond Hill.” The song’s popularity spread, perhaps as far as to have a city named after it.
Another proposed origin for the name comes from Governor General Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond. It’s said that following his personal visit to the settlement in 1819 the village was renamed to Richmond Hill in his honour.
Regardless of the origins of its name Richmond Hill was coming into its own as a prosperous farming community by the mid 1800’s, due in large part to the trade and travel infrastructure provided by Yonge St. As a sort of mid-point between York and Holland Landing, Richmond Hill proved a convenient stop-over for stage-coaches making the trip between the two other towns.
Indeed, by 1836 Richmond Hill had everything a town needed – a store, a schoolhouse, a church, a tavern, a post office, and more. It was this latter feature which cemented the name “Richmond Hill” into the history books.
Since the postal district needed a name, the postmaster used Richmond Hill and from then on the name has been officially recognized.
The 19th century was a period full of trials for Richmond Hill and its residents, most of which stemmed from the characteristics that continue to make it a unique and appealing place to live.
Whereas most settlements in this era of Canadian history grew around a primary intersection, Richmond Hill grew along the linear stretch of Yonge St. Shops and businesses sprang up along this thoroughfare and as a result Richmond Hill doesn’t have a historical downtown district like many other Ontario towns.
Because this one street was so important to Richmond Hill’s sustained growth, modernizations and developments affected the city for better and for worse.
Businesses, predominantly inns and taverns, would have boom and bust cycles. Initially, Richmond Hill’s location proved an asset for its economic growth since travellers leaving Toronto would naturally stop over looking for a meal and a good night’s rest.
However, the grand Yonge St. project wasn’t without its problems. Financially, it was disastrous and even the toll charged to travellers wasn’t keeping it solvent. When the Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron Railway opened in 1853, Richmond Hill sustained a significant loss in Yonge St. traffic and had to adapt as travellers now had an alternative route for travelling north of Toronto.
The railway line had a stop in Richmond Hill, but it wasn’t centrally located. It was about 6 kilometres east of Yonge St. along the then-unpaved Major Mackenzie Rd., closer to where Headford lies today. Certainly not a journey weary travellers would be keen to make when seeking respite from their journeys.
While traffic on Yonge St. declined by up to 25% when the railway opened and a decline in business was felt, there remained a market for travellers coming from neighbouring communities or travelling by coach. Local trade continued and prevented other neighbouring towns from swallowing up Richmond Hill into their municipalities.
Modern Richmond Hill
The turn of the century brought more trying times to Richmond Hill, but things changed almost immediately upon the arrival of the electric railway. Although carriage-trade businesses failed, the rest of the economy grew by 35% over the course of just a few years.
The Town of Richmond Hill made a deal with Toronto and the railway companies to sell power from their Bond Lake power generator, solidifying the town’s economic prospects. Bond Lake Park was even the first park in Ontario to have electric lighting.
As this new form of transportation extended north and proliferated throughout the area with new routes for both freight and passenger transport, it seemed inevitable that Richmond Hill would become a suburb of Toronto.
Despite all of this prosperity, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that modern amenities reached many of its parts. Areas annexed into Richmond Hill when the Regional Municipality of York was established in 1971 were still without water mains, sewers, or streetlights, and connected by dirt roads.
Curiously, Richmond Hill wasn’t officially re-classified as a city until 2019 even though it experienced such explosive growth over the last 30 years. During the 90’s it had the fastest growth rate in Canada.
Modern Richmond Hill
Although Richmond Hill has come a long way from a small rural settlement it’s still known as a quiet, comfortable place to raise a family in Ontario. Some of its younger residents might go as far as saying life in Richmond Hill is boring – especially next to the allure of Toronto – yet one thing Toronto can’t offer them is the large homes, backyards, recreational amenities, and close sense of community.
Residents can take advantage of the numerous local amenities like pools, skating rinks, and sports fields or take a drive to places like the Blue Mountains where skiing, hiking, and nature abound. It offers a highly-diverse and family oriented community that’s welcoming for lifestyles of all kinds.
Real Estate In Richmond Hill
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For 200 years people have been living in and passing through what we now call Newmarket, and while initially it’s big appeal was the Holland River which allowed people to travel between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario, today we can enjoy the same trip via the 404 Expressway connecting Barrie and the GTA.
It’s comforting to know that despite all of the transformation in Newmarket’s long history, this town of about 85,000 residents remains a strong community which offers a nice respite from the trendy city living more common to Toronto or Barrie.
Early Uses of The Newmarket Land
As part of one of the main transportation routes for traders, trappers, and settlers in the area, Newmarket already had a fair bit of traffic – practically as far back as settlers came to this part of North America.
It was one of two branches on the Toronto Carrying-place Trail, the major portage route which began at Lake Simcoe, passed through Newmarket, then passed over the Oak Ridges Moraine into the Rouge River until it finally reached Lake Ontario.
Following this trip along the lesser-used eastern route through Newmarket in 1793, John Graves Simcoe deemed the Newmarket route the superior of the two options for travellers heading south to York and began building Yonge Street in 1975. Work began in Toronto Bay and the street extended all the way up to Holland Landing, immediately north of Newmarket.
More Permanent Settlement In Newmarket
While the Newmarket area was being used as a transit route and settled in the Holland Landing area, the foundation for modern Newmarket was laid by unexpected figures. Americans. American Quakers to be exact.
A group led by the Vermont Quaker Timothy Rogers were seeking a place to settle in the North to escape America’s revolutionary struggle.
By 1803, Rogers and a compatriot named Samuel Lundy had secured a large swath of 8,000 acres of land and made what would become Canada their permanent settlement.
It was around Fairy Lake that the seed of Newmarket was sown by one Joseph Hill, a settler who constructed a mill and dam the produced the lake which residents still enjoy to this day.
Other settlers unsurprisingly built homesteads around this agricultural resource. Because of this early historical detail, Newmarket’s downtown remains just north of Fairy Lake Pond in the form of Main St. instead of following Yonge Street several hundred meters to the west.
The Settlement Grows Into A Town – “Newmarket”
Over the course of several years, another prominent local landowner named Elisha Beman opened a successive series of businesses to serve the local community. Among them was a distillery, and although it’s not in operation today the area is still the commercial centre of Newmarket.
A wave of prosperity during the War of 1812 led into rapid growth during the 19th century, much of it stemming from inter-city commerce. In fact, following the establishment of Aurora and Holland Landing the settlement began holding regular markets, giving rise to the name we use to this day: Newmarket.
Growth, Development, and Conflict In Newmarket
Although the Quakers founded Newmarket to escape the challenges of war, it would unfortunately reach the village regardless, albeit in a different form.
Newmarket was the venue for rebel activity during the rebellions of 1837-1838. Discontent grew among the local farmers who saw the government as robbing them of the fruits of their labours. In fact, rebel leader and former mayor of Toronto, Willian Lyon Mackenzie gave his first campaign speech at the corner of Main & Botsford.
While King & his revolutionaries met a tragic end, Newmarket continued to flourish. By mid-century it had grown to over 500 residents, six places of worship, and even a post office. It wasn’t lacking in industry either, establishing its candidacy for a railway stop.
The 1st railway in Upper Canada, Toronto, Simcoe & Lake Huron Union Railroad, stopped in Newmarket and shipped passengers, agricultural products, and manufactured goods to the rest of Canada. Newmarket was living up to its name as a centre for industry in young Canada.
This heavy rail line would adapt over the course of its working life, first switching to serve a major conduit between Toronto & Collingwood and finally becoming incorporated into the Canadian National Railway.
Today, commuters can even enjoy the convenience of GO Transit Service from Toronto along the Barrie Line.
Turning Into A Town
10 years before Canada’s Confederation Newmarket was officially incorporated as a town. Already the transition from subsistence to a more cosmopolitan way of life was developing. Around this time Downtown Newmarket got its first department store, which incidentally lived on and developed into the Simpsons chain of stores, itself later swallowed up by The Bay.
It’s some solace to think that today’s Upper Canada Mall location at Yonge & Davis Dr. isn’t far from where Newmarket’s first commercial centre was located.
From the late 1860’s, the town saw steady growth from a population of 1500. Perhaps it was increased local transit options or the reputation it gained as a prosperous place to live, but less than 20 years later the population jumped by another 25% and the town had its own elementary and high schools.
Newmarket Coming Into Its Own
Along with the arrival of the Toronto and York Radial Railway at the turn of the century came a wave of visitors looking to see something new outside of Toronto. It was the first time leisure travellers could reach the city so easily and in such numbers, and although the railway line just brushed past Newmarket, their presence brought significant economic benefits to the city.
Increased automobile traffic on Yonge Street had a similar effect and as cars grew more popular the railway was discontinued. The Yonge St. artery also began pulling real estate development in the town. A glance at the map of today’s Newmarket shows how the city’s primary commercial real estate space is concentrated around the intersection of Yonge St. and Davis Dr. W.
The early 20th century also brought other transportation transformations, the remnants of which can be seen to this day. A stretch of the East Holland River was straightened so it could be used to ship goods in place of the railroad, which was getting far too expensive to be viable.
Remnants of the canal system running through to Lake Simcoe can still be seen to the north of Newmarket. This waterway was devised to give boats access to the Trent-Severn Waterway, and although it was initially promising the project was cancelled by the incumbent government.
What was meant to be the canal’s turning basin in downtown Newmarket was filled in and now serves the community in a different way – as the parking lot to the Tannery Mall, itself located on the site of the Davis Hill’s Tannery from Newmarket’s inception.
This abandoned canal project in many ways symbolized the advent of modern Newmarket. Concrete, cars, and modern commerce replaced the old ways of life and drove Newmarket into the contemporary era.
Life In Newmarket Today
As of the latest census Newmarket’s population rests at around 85,000 residents, a far cry from the tiny settlement which served as the cradle of commerce, trade, and even rebellion.
Yet one thing remains constant, and that’s the city’s importance as a stopover hub between Barrie and Toronto, though these days most of that travel happens via Highway 404 and Yonge St.
Although Newmarket is part of Great Toronto and solidified its status as a bedroom town in the 1980’s, its location in the Golden Horseshoe still attracts more rural and agricultural citizens. A return to agrarian life may not be in Newmarket’s future, but residents can still enjoy a quieter pace of life and respite from the pace of major metropolitan Toronto.
In addition to the town’s historical district, Newmarket offers numerous conservation areas and parks where people can get even closer to nature. Wesley Brooks Conservation Area and Rogers Reservoir are conveniently located near town, but lovers of the outdoors don’t have to go far to find even more green space, golf, or hiking to enjoy.
Newmarket has undergone tremendous modernization to become the city it is today, but in many ways not much has changed. It’s still a relatively quiet place to live, work, and raise a family without being too far away from it all.
Buying or Selling Real Estate In Newmarket?
Are you considering moving to Newmarket or perhaps relocating within the city?
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Toronto’s vibrant Parkdale neighbourhood is packed with different cultures, highly-walkable streets, and a range of Victorian and Georgian Revival homes. It exemplifies the Canadian experience with a modern population living among heritage buildings, all served by chic local shops, restaurants, boutiques, and art spaces.
Explore one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods with our neighbourhood guide, covering the area’s history, current culture, and what it’s like to live, work and play in this part of our fair city.
Have real estate questions about Parkdale? If you’re thinking of buying or selling property in the area, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team for guidance, advice, or top representation.
The History of Toronto’s Parkdale Neighbourhood
While the Village of Parkdale was officially founded in 1879 the area was already settled much earlier. As with many of Toronto neighbourhoods, the land that makes up Parkdale began as private property owned by an individual, in this case Sir James Brock.
In 1812 Brock received 240 acres of land which stretched from Queen St. to Jameson at the west and Dufferin to the east, all as part of his salary for service as private secretary to the lieutenant governor.
Although Brock himself moved away to Kingston shortly after receiving the land and not making any improvements, it was sold promptly after his death in 1830 and subdivided. Much of that land would become collectively known as Parkdale, but for decades the separate parcels were privately owned or treated as small villages – as in the case of Brockton Village, today’s modern day neighbourhood by the same name.
By the late 19th century, both the Parkdale Railway station and the Grand Trunk Railway Stations were open and providing multiple points of entry along the east-west axis. Along with this boom in accessibility a corresponding boom in population would come soon after that.
Although the village had to fight to be recognized as such with only 783 residents, it wouldn’t be long before Village council passed a bylaw to be Annexed by the City of Toronto which was already taking up all the land around it. The village was facing opposition from other municipal bodies which disagreed with its status as an independent entity within the ever-widening boundaries of Toronto.
In March 1889, Parkdale Village was officially Annexed by the City of Toronto and dubbed “St. Alban’s Ward.” When the name “Parkdale” returned to local railway signage following reorganization of the the different lines and systems, so too returned the long forgotten name which we use to this day.
Butting up against the city’s downtown core, Parkdale is predominantly residential. More specifically, it’s filled with single-family and semi-detached homes, although it’s cut through by several main thoroughfares which include shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
It’s far enough away from the downtown core to not be dominated by towering condo towers yet close enough to have the always-active vibrance only a mega-city like Toronto can offer.
If you happen down one of the residential streets you’ll notice that the homes are of an older variety, some dating as far back as the 19th century. Since the neighbourhood was an upper-scale suburb at the turn of the 1800’s, many of the homes were quite upscale and had to be converted into multi-use residences in order to accommodate the growing population of the city.
Equally old are some of the trees which line the streets and give them shade along with a sense of domesticity and small-town comfort. Look out for Georgian Revival and Victorian architecture, sometimes even with original gas lights.
Given the high demand for housing in Parkdale, many of the homes are multi-unit properties to meet the demand. That makes for a larger population of renters compared with the rest of the city. A few swatches of the city have even been repurposed for high rise apartment buildings.
Thinking of moving to Parkdale? Get in touch with one of our team members to plan the sale or purchase of any property in Toronto and take advantage of decades of local real estate expertise.
Parks & Green space in Parkdale
For a neighbourhood with the word “Park” in its title, one would think green space were plentiful. That does not happen to be the case. Parkdale has less parkland per resident than other neighbourhoods.
Due to the early settlement of this section of Toronto and the type of residents, city planners were more concerned with getting enough homes in the area and not so much with providing adequate green space. After all, many of the owners of the local mansions had country houses or easy access to the countryside.
To address this lack of parks in a time when apartment buildings were being added to the neighbourhood, the city built several parkettes since the 1960s.
The neighbourhood does technically include the stretch of waterfront between Roncesvalles and Dufferin Streets, though access requires pedestrians to cross the Gardiner Expressway by 1 of 2 pedestrian paths.
Regardless, it’s a convenient way to access the Martin Goodman trail and connect with other parts of the lakeshore.
Commerce In Parkdale
Parkdale’s primary commercial space is Toronto’s famous Queen St. West, a primary thoroughfare which has been used for commerce and transportation since Toronto’s early days. Whereas this stretch of Queen was once a place where household wares were sold it’s now mostly serving the local community with bars, restaurants, local shops, and living up to the street’s bohemian reputation with art galleries and atelier spaces.
Few large businesses function in the area. That’s partly because of the residential nature of the community and partly because larger commercial development is prevented by the heritage status of many buildings.
Parkdale By The Numbers
Unsurprisingly for a downtown Toronto neighbourhood, Parkdale is mixed in terms of both ethnicity and income. However, regardless of people’s backgrounds, most residents are renters and that proportion continues to grow.
Despite its diversity, Parkdale does have a disproportionate number of Torontonians falling in the lower-income bracket. Part of the reason for Parkdale’s low income status can be attributed to the abundance of rental properties in such a good location. Those factors can make it a great prospect for immigrant families, many of whom call the area home.
The bohemian vibe of Queen St. W. also draws many artists and creative types who enrich the neighbourhood in different ways. Some of those ways can be seen in the street art murals which adorn the various walls and buildings in the area.
Transportation in Parkdale
Owing to its centralized Toronto location, Parkdale is exceptionally accessible. Much of the convenience of getting around is provided by the main Queen St. W. thoroughfare and the 501 streetcar route that follows it.
Local access to amenities is tremendous thanks to the highly-walkable side-streets and wide sidewalks. It’s an area designed to be enjoyed on foot, whether that means getting groceries, enjoying a coffee, or making one’s way to work. With a walk score of 82, it ranks among the most walkable neighbourhoods in the city.
It’s not quite as bikeable, largely because of the heavy pedestrian traffic and the lack of bike lanes due to the streetcar route. Nonetheless, visitors will see local residents cycling as part of some of the more alternative lifestyles enjoyed by Parkdale’s residents.
The neighbourhood is surrounded by heavier transportation infrastructure such as the Gardiner Expressway to the south and train tracks which border Parkdale in the north east.
Regardless, it’s relatively convenient to access this transit corridor by car as long as you don’t mind waiting in a spot of traffic.
Real Estate In Parkdale
Much of Parkdale’s real estate is commercial or mixed-use residential, although there’s no doubt there are some darling single-family homes available to the keen house hunter seeking to call the neighbourhood home.
Because fully-detached homes are harder to come by in the area, they do sell at the higher range of the Toronto home-price spectrum. Parkdale’s proximity to downtown Toronto also contributes to this high price point.
Owing to the zoning regulations high-rise condominium developments haven’t entered the area, leaving prospective property buyers with fewer ownership options. Fortunately, these regulations allow the neighbourhood to keep it’s village vibe and relatively low population density.
More About Parkdale
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Welcome To Danforth East, East York’s Village in a City
East Danforth, also known as Danforth Village or “The Danny”, is a burgeoning neighbourhood in the east end of Toronto. While the abundance of open green spaces is a refreshing recreational reprieve for its residents, the rustic retro brick buildings from the Massey Estate and casual functional architecture from the interwar period is of heritage value.
The area, extending from the eastern boundary of Greektown by Greenwood Avenue to the periphery of Scarborough at Victoria Park Avenue, was once part of the municipal township of York County before being annexed and then amalgamated into what is presently known as the City of Toronto.
Strategic public investments in infrastructure like transit, housing and community services have led to Danforth Village’s urban renewal. Transitioned from its agro-industrial origins and suburban reputation, the area is now a multicultural patchwork with its own identity and charm. Danforth Village has a wealth of quaint single-family homes both detached and semis, in addition to its newly developed condos and apartments that border the quiet tree-lined streets all just steps away from incredible dining, shopping and leisure experiences.
Golf at Dentonia Park Golf Course with your neighbours or appreciate fresh produce and artisan goods while strolling through the lively farmers’ market in East Lynn Park alongside your family. Hike and cycle through the network of trails at Taylor Creek Park or enjoy the charming boutiques and socialize at the bustling outdoor cafes along the vibrant pedestrian path of the commercial street. This welcoming neighbourhood is ideal for families and young professionals interested in integrating big city living with small town appeal.
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History of Danforth Village
From Coleman’s Corners to Little York, a look into the east end of the Danforth’s history provides a chronology of development and boom that has led from its era as an electric village to that of a friendly cultural mosaic of commercial and retail spaces. In the 1870s, the intersection of Danforth and Dawes was referred to as Coleman’s Corners when Charles Coleman, a hotel owner in the area, was first appointed to Postmaster and responsible for the receiving, sorting and sending of mail in the village. The Grand Trunk Railway was constructed in the mid-19th century, along with the establishment of a train station in East Toronto.
In fact, some of the original rail lines from this time are currently used by the GO Transit and VIA Rail Networks. The area was renamed “Little York”, of which you can still find traces. From the bay and gable Victorian houses of the Massey Goulding farm residences and the Gothic Revival architecture of the Charles Taylor Estate, to the modest brick homes for railways workers on Coleman Ave and the steam powered grist mill of Gooderham & Worts.
The former remote area of Danforth East soon became industrialized along the east bank of the Don Valley. While its rich clay deposits were exploited for brick-making, its unserviced land was settled by a thriving population of newly arrived immigrants who continue to put down roots here to this day.
Named after Asa Danforth, an American contractor, Danforth Village soon flourished after major transportation improvements were made. The completion of the Prince Edward Viaduct in 1918, the streetcar line along Broadview Ave from Queen St East to the corner of Danforth Ave and the opening of the Bloor – Danforth subway in 1966 connected the populous metropolitan (city) to the extended “streetcar suburbs” (village).
As a result, Danforth East is now home to Italian, Greek, Irish, Moroccan, Chinese, Afghani, Caribbean, Pakistani and Ethiopian cultures. This new microeconomy provides ample authentic retail, restaurant, and cafe options along the main Danforth thoroughfare, while also attracting pedestrian traffic and encouraging active engagement in the now vibrantly diverse community where residents can live, work and play.
Named after two prominent Toronto families, the Taylors of the Don Valley Brick Works and the Masseys of the Canadian farm equipment manufacturing company, Massey-Ferguson, the creek provides sizable open green space in the form of paved and dirt recreational trails for City of Toronto residents.
Children’s Peace Theatre
Children’s Peace Theatre is located in the Goulding Estate, a heritage property on Dawes Road that was once the primary residence of Canada’s first major industrialist. It operates year-round to provide collaborative and artistic programs and projects to children and youth of all ages in an effort to raise awareness about peace methods.
The house, which was once located on the family’s 240 acres of farmland, is architecturally significant as it was designed by the notable Canadian architect Ferdinand Marani. The mansion is often referred to as the Garden of Eden because of “British-born, Toronto-made” Eden Smith’s influence on the cottage-like style.
A large park packed with fields for soccer, baseball, and even cricket as well as a clubhouse and walking trails, Dentonia Park is situated on what was once farmer’s fields. These days it serves as a place to experience the outdoors for the area’s residents and will be recognized by many as the location where the Bloor-Danforth Subway line descends underground after Victoria Park Station.
Things To Do In Danforth East
Enjoy Nature at Taylor Creek
Flowing through Scarborough and East York before entering the Don River, the creek offers a well maintained respite from the hustle and bustle of city living. The cascading river, assorted tall trees and savage wildlife emanates an enchanting feel of serenity. Regardless of the season, this accessible network of trails is a great place for residents passionate about the outdoors. Here you can walk with your family and/or pets, train for endurance sports like running, biking or cross country skiing, host a private and/or community barbecue and sit on one of the many benches to bask in the surrounding natural beauty of Danforth Village’s hidden oasis.
Go Green with East Lynn Park’s Farmers Market
Danforth East residents can take pleasure in the fresh selection of local produce and artisanal goods, as well as family-friendly entertainment every Thursday from 3 to 7pm at East Lynn Park, located on Danforth Avenue at Woodbine Avenue. The Danforth East Community Association (DECA) continues to offer opportunities for neighbours and local families to congregate with monthly festivals and children’s events like their strawberry social, movie nights, arts fair, corn broil, pumpkin parade and fall harvest festival.
Hit A Few Balls At Dentonia Park Golf Course
A hidden gem in the heart of the city and conveniently located at Victoria Park and Danforth Avenue, just steps away from the subway station, this well kept short-game circuit offers an 18 hole irons-only par three golf course on part of the original Massey Farm lands that is perfect for beginner and pro alike.
From the nostalgic smells of warm bread baking to the aromas and spices of the myriad ethnic shops which line the street, Danforth Village residents can enjoy the specialty food stores as well as “ma and pa” businesses on the neighbourhood’s main street. Although it’s no Greektown or Queen St. W., there’s a certain no-frills appeal to a commercial part of the city without the fuss.
Real Estate In Danforth Village
Since Danforth Village began as a farming community with large swaths of land with a relatively low population density it should come as no surprise that today’s Danforth Village residents continue to enjoy a fair amount of breathing room.
Real estate in the East-end Danforth neighbourhood may not be luxurious, but there’s a range of property types to serve everyone from young families and couples to single real estate investors looking to get a leg up in the real estate market.
Fully-detached homes abound, many with generously sized lots. Even more prevalent are semi-detached homes connected to rear laneways for garage and parking access. Finally, the large apartment complexes around primary intersections like Main St. & Danforth Ave. make the area an attractive place to settle for immigrants of all kinds.
With terrific connection to the rest of the city via the Bloor-Danforth Subway line and the 512 Streetcar route leaving Main St. station, it’s no surprise that the area is quickly gaining popularity for prospective home buyers.
Working With Frank Leo & Associates
Thinking of buying or selling property in Danforth Village? Work with Frank Leo & Associates to get the city’s top real estate team on your side. You can get started by contacting us with questions or claiming your free, no-obligation home evaluation.
As always, we’re available for any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to reach out through or website or via social media.
How Selling Your Home Too Fast Can Cost You. Don’t Sell Without the Right Marketing!
Everyone wants to sell their homes for top dollar. Not everyone succeeds.
The good news? It’s absolutely possible as long as you don’t make the mistake of selling too fast without proper marketing.
Selling quickly can seem like such an important goal that it’s easy to forget that without the right marketing, you could be missing out on tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on the sale of your property.
In this article you’ll find the insights that Frank Leo and Associates has garnered over decades selling thousands of homes in Toronto & The GTA fast and for top dollar. We’ll cover why marketing effectively is important and how it’s done.
Considering selling your property in Toronto or The GTA? Sell your home for top dollar value guaranteed with Frank Leo & Associates. All it takes to get started is a FREE home evaluation.
Why Just Selling Fast Isn’t Enough
Anyone can sell a house quickly by setting the price low enough. However, it takes a top real estate agent with a good strategy to sell quickly and for top dollar.
Focusing on finding any buyer quickly leaves money on the table because there’s a great likelihood that other more ideal buyers would be willing to pay a higher price if they are not being reached or aware of the property being available.
It all comes down to far reaching marketing to find the ideal qualified buyers who are interested in the property in question and understand and appreciate its highest value.
What is “Marketing” When It Comes To Selling Fast and for Top Dollar?
At Frank Leo & Associates we use a Guaranteed Home Selling System the ensures homes will sell quickly for top dollar. We’ve created this multi-million dollar marketing system over years working in the Toronto real estate market.
Below we’ll cover the marketing techniques we use to sell property fast for top dollar and why you could be missing out on profit for your home sale homesale.
Starting With A Home Evaluation Consultation
To get top dollar for your home, you need to have a strategy. At the core of that strategy is an understanding of your home’s market value to the ideal buyer.
Knowing the market value enables a seller to advertise the home to qualified buyers who are interested in that type of property and able to afford it.
For example, advertising a million dollar home to a young family looking for a starter home isn’t likely toget you the best result.
Interested in finding out how much your property is worth? Contact us or claim a FREE home evaluation carried out by professionals with decades of experience in the Toronto & GTA real estate market.
Photographing the Home
Presentation is critical to advertising any product, and property is no exception. In today’s market most people will first see your home in photographs or video – whether that’s on social media, a multiple listing service (MLS), or through other internet digital channels.
It’s important to have the home looking its best and photographed professionally to make this first impression a strong one. There are numerous tricks of the trade and details that may not be clear to the layman’s eye when it comes to capturing the strengths of a property to make it look its best.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the different visuals listings should have for effective marketing.
Listings that don’t have a full-frontal shot showing off the property have slim chances of getting much engagement or interest. The exterior photo is an important demonstration of curb appeal and is an expected convention in the real estate industry.
All the primary rooms of a house should be photographed to give prospective buyers a sense of what it’s like to live there. The goal is to help buyers imagine their own lives in the property, to make them feel at home.
Interior photos also bring up the question of home staging, or presenting your home in a way which makes it appealing to buyers. Having an eye for home preparation and staging is a skill in itself – another reason many home sellers choose to sell with an experienced real estate agent.
Thinking of selling in Toronto or The GTA? Frank Leo and AssociatesLeo can help apply some of the marketing know-how we’ve collected over the past 30 years to help you get top dollar value for your property. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help or get started directly with a free home evaluation.
Although MLS is typically used primarily by agents and brokers, it’s an important part of home-selling process it is only one part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
So you have your home photographed and listed on MLS. Now what?
Just sitting back and waiting for something to come in isn’t a practical strategy for getting top dollar in a short time frame.
That’s why Frank Leo & Associates employ a multi-million dollar marketing system that advertises each home listing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until the property is sold.
This constant targeted advertising should take a variety of forms if you’re going to get your property sold for top dollar and in a short period of time.
In a major metropolitan area of the GTA’s size, there’s always someone out there searching for a property – and we’re there to meet them with a property that fits their needs.
Explosive Digital Marketing
Increasingly important in the digital age, digital marketing is a big component of today’s real estate industry. With more and more consumers turning to their devices for customer service and information, a strong presence online will help sellers reach the right audience at the right time.
A digital presence involves being active on social media, advertising listings across channels, leveraging email marketing, banner ads, geo and profile targeting plus much more.
At Frank Leo & Associates we pride ourselves on placing properties in front of more ideal buyers at the right time, resulting in astounding results like selling a Toronto home for $1 million over asking.
Take a glance at the Team Leo Facebook page, LinkedIn, or Instagram and you’ll find examples of how we market listings. You’ll also see plenty of examples of listings we sold quickly for top dollar, all thanks to our multi-million dollar marketing system.
Doing Traditional Advertising in Newspapers, Magazines, Flyers, Radio, TV, Outdoors, and More
In addition to digital advertising, we invest millions in advertising our brand across most traditional media – from out of door billboards to radio and TV spots.
It’s all part of our Guaranteed Home Selling System and making sure both home buyers and sellers understand that Team Leo has them covered when it comes to real estate services.
Being top-of-mind has helped our team achieve accolades like the #1 RE/MAX Team in Toronto & The GTA.*
There’s No Need For An Open House
DON’T hold an open house!
That may seem like curious advice in an article about how failing to market your home effectively can cost you, but open houses are a marketing tactic from a different time.
The sale process is totally different today.
It may come as a surprise that hardly any buyers learn about the home they eventually buy from an open house.
Considering that an open house is a standard marketing tactic that is practically assumed in most real estate offerings, it’s remarkably ineffective.
Simply put, open houses don’t do much in the way of finding qualified buyers for your property. They actually cost practically nothing to do. In fact, many agents use them to increase their network and meet buyers to whom they can then sell other properties.
Selling Your Property in Toronto or The GTA
As you can see, marketing a home is a crucial part of selling. No other realtor invests as much to market your property as Frank Leo and Associates. A private seller’s wouldn’t have the time or the resources to sell a property effectively. Not to mention the lack of an effective marketing campaign required to sell a home quickly for top dollar value. How much would you lose by cutting marketing corners?
Known locally as “Roncy” or “Roncesvalles Village,” this predominantly residential area in the city’s west side has a firm spot among Toronto’s most well-known neighbourhoods. Taking its name from the long commercial thoroughfare which runs north-south through its centre, Roncesvalles is conveniently located, filled with residential amenities, and has plenty of local history.
It has a reputation for being the centre of the Polish community in Toronto, and although prominent Polish businesses and other institutions can still be found in Roncesvalles the community is not as densely Polish as it once was. However, you can still experience the Polish heritage while the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area hold their International Polish Festival.
In this neighbourhood guide on Roncesvalles we’ll start with the history of the neighbourhood and how it came to be what it is today then move onto what life is like for its residents.
Before Roncesvalles was settled, Toronto’s boundary was Dufferin St.. Although the Dufferin region was sparsely populated, a small village had sprang up along Dundas towards Ossington. Since Dundas St. was the first major highway going west from Toronto, it served as a natural location for settlement.
This village gradually amalgamated with 2 settlements further west in the modern day High Park / Roncesvalles area which started as farm lots given to prominent Toronto families – The Ridout family and John George Howard, the 1st professional architect in Toronto. Since the men worked in the city, much of their land remained unfarmed, resulting in the intact natural beauty seen in High Park today.
The area was originally called Howard Park after the architect who owned it. Although his name is gone from the map his legacy lives on in Colborne Lodge, the cottage he built in 1837, which remains in High Park as a historical museum to this day.
A memory of indigenous presence exists in Roncesvalles in the form of Indian Rd., a street which is named after a trail running through the region that was thought to have been an ancient Mississauga Indian path leading north from Lake Ontario.
By 1850, much of the land North of Queen St. was acquired by Colonel Walter O’Hara, a former British soldier who immigrated to Canada. It was also O’Hara who gave the neighbourhood and many of its streets their names.
The name Roncesvalles itself comes from the Roncesvalles Gorge in Northern Spain where O’Hara had been wounded and captured by the French. Toronto was already taking on a multinational identity with a Spanish name given by an Irishman courtesy of the French.
Although the neighbourhood’s name may be Spanish, the street names are far from it. O’Hara hailed from Ireland and bestowed the names of his Irish family members to the city’s growing number of streets. Among them you’ll find O’Hara, Constance, Sorauren, Marion, and Fermanaugh, the Northern-Irish province the O’Hara clan comes from.
Present day Roncesvalles is really a product of the street-car which came to the neighbourhood in the early 1900’s. With viable public transport, the area quickly became a recognized family neighbourhood. Nearby industry provided employment for the mostly British immigrants, and community life was largely built around the landmark St.Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church.
It wasn’t until the end of the Second World War that Roncesvalles would get the Eastern European charm and character for which it known. An influx of immigrants, mostly Polish, settled and built their own church St. Casimir’s after a Polish patriot and early settler of Toronto who was instrumental in building Toronto’s road and railway infrastructure.
Landmarks & Notable Features
The major North-South promenade and commercial hub of the neighbourhood, which shares its name, Roncesvalles Ave. is an iconic fixture of Toronto’s West End. On weekends this street is filled with pedestrians strolling and enjoying the area with a vibe not unlike what you would find in The Beaches or Queen St. West. Further north near Bloor St. is the street’s commercial centre while the southern part of Roncesvalles Ave. is predominantly residential, giving it a more balanced feeling than some of the city’s other pedestrian thoroughfares.
St. Casimir’s Polish Church
Following the influx of new Polish families settling in west Toronto following WWII, the local Polish community immediately identified the need for a place of worship in Roncesvalles. By 1948, the land for St. Casimir’s was purchased and not long after that the church was ready. It takes its name from Casimir Gzowski, a Polish-Canadian patriot, and continues to serve Toronto’s Polish community.
The Revue Cinema is Toronto’s oldest operational cinema. Built over a century ago during the theatre building boom, it ran for years as a regular cinema before serving as a repertory cinema from the 80’s onwards. Due to the rise of personal media players, the owners could no longer sustain the business and it closed in 2006. Fortunately, two community members bought this piece of Toronto’s heritage and endowed it to the Revue Film Society who run it as a non-profit. Although Toronto has plenty to offer residents with both TIFF and Hot Docs, no self-respecting Toronto film buff should miss this true piece of cinema history in our city.
The “Central Park of the North” serves residents from all over the city, especially in the summer months or during the annual blossom bloom which brings droves of Instagram users hungry for that perfect shot. It’s a perfect place for practically any outdoor activity, from taking a break from the sights of the city to playing sports or even catching Shakespeare in the Park. There’s really too much going on in High Park to list, especially since it’s not technically even in Roncesvalles!
St. Joseph’s Health Centre
An iconic building on the waterfront, St. Joseph’s is a large Catholic Teaching hospital which marks the beginning of both Queen St. going east and Roncesvalles going north. The story of how the hospital came to be is an interesting one, with the land first being used as the Sacred Heart Orphanage which opted to convert part of it’s space to a hospital in order to stop the city from expropriating its land for use as a high school. The city still got its high school further north by Bloor St., but now residents also have access to a full-service hospital.
St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church
Although it is also a Roman Catholic Church, St. Vincent de Paul predates St. Casimir’s Church yet has a remarkably similar story. Following the 1st large wave of non-British immigration to Toronto in the early 20th Century, there were enough Catholics in the city to warrant a parish in the western part of the city. With a more imposing facade than its Polish “child parish” St. Vincent de Paul is one of the preeminent landmarks along Roncesvalles Ave. as well as one of the most recognizable historical buildings in the area.
High Park Branch of the Toronto Public Library
As one of Toronto’s Carnegie Libraries, the High Park Branch of The Toronto Public Library features an architectural style which will be familiar to many Torontonians. In service for over 100 years, the library has been remodelled and expanded to better serve the needs of Toronto’s growing population. Today it not only serves as a local landmark and piece of Toronto’s heritage but offers community programs, a large library catalogue, and the city’s largest public collection of Polish-language library books.
Pope John Paul II Statue
Universally revered and practically venerated in the Polish community, Pope John Paul II has a unique place in the hearts and minds of Polish-Canadians. To commemorate the Pope’s 1st visit to Canada in 1984, the statue was erected by the Polish community in front of what is now the Polish Credit Union.
The oldest of the TTC’s active carhouses, the Roncesvalles TTC Maintenance Facility services the city’s busy streetcars on numerous routes. It’s fitting that the carhouse is located at the nexus of some of the city’s busiest routes – the 501 Queen St. and 504 King St. routes. The facility’s history is long and intricate, but it started its service life as a Toronto Railway Company service centre before being taken over by the then-new TTC in 1921.
Jami Mosque Toronto
In a neighbourhood seemingly dominated by Roman Catholic heritage and culture, there’s still plenty of room for a Mosque. Jami Mosque’s status as the oldest Canadian Islamic Centre in the city has earned it the title, “mother of all the mosques in Toronto.” Curiously, the building began as a Presbyterian Church before it was purchased in 1969 by a small and predominantly Balkan muslim community to be converted into a mosque.
Things to Do in Roncesvalles
Take A Stroll Down Roncesvalles
There’s always something happening on Roncesvalles Ave. Its reputation as a pedestrian thoroughfare brings people from all over the city to peruse the local fare. Watch the street life from a patio, try one of the authentic local restaurants, or just grab a coffee on your way to the park or beach.
Go Visit High Park
There’s something happening and something to do at High Park year round. It truly has the diversity of activities befitting a world-class city like Toronto. Picnicking, birding, biking, playing sports, visiting the zoo – there’s really too much to list. You can visit the High Park website for more details of what to do, but one activity that definitely stands out is the annual Sakura Bloom which brings droves of amateur photographers, Instagrammers, and nature enthusiasts to overrun the park. If you’re going to go, be prepared for the crowds.
Hit The Beach!
It may not hold a candle to Woodbine Beach in the city’s east end but for a major metropolitan area, Sunnyside Beach is a terrific place to go out and enjoy the outdoors. Located at the foot of Roncesvalles Ave. you’ll find a stretch of sandy beach as well as parkland spanning several kilometers. There’s plenty to do other than merely enjoy the outdoors, too. With an outdoor pool, tennis club, paddleboard rental, and more, there’s no shortage of excitement by the water.
Check Out Sorauren Avenue Park + Gallery 345
Sorauren Park may be modest in comparison to High Park’s rolling expanse, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in local charm and culture. It’s much more of a local spot and it’s great for a light stroll or a more active outing. There are public tennis courts, a soccer pitch, and a baseball diamond if more organized sports are your thing, but you can also see if anything is on at the adjacent Gallery 345, a local arts gallery and culture venue that usually has a static exhibition in addition to performances and events.
Check Out Colborne Lodge
If history is your thing, John Howard’s former cottage-turned-museum is for you. After the architect’s death in 1890, the became property of the city which eventually turned it into a museum. There is a small entry fee, but for a few dollars you can explore the world of 19th century technology, innovation, urban planning, science, and design right where it all took place.
Visit The Farmers Market
These days no residential neighbourhood seems complete without a farmers market. Luckily for Roncesvalles residents, Sorauren Farmers Market happens weekly at Sorauren Park – year round! Thanks to City of Toronto facilities, the market can run throughout the year, giving you a great excuse to get out of the house and access to over 20 great local vendors offering everything from fruit & veg to honey and even perogies.
Catch a Movie At Revue Cinema
Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles recaptures a time before movies theatres were corporate and only played new releases. This independent, non-profit movie house offers enough movies, talks, and special screenings to make a movie buff forget about TIFF. While it may be a great place to watch a classic film on the big screen, the Revue Cinema also offers access to a community of film lovers that’s getting increasingly hard to find offline these days.
Annual Polish Festival
Live music, dancing, entertainment, beer gardens, exhibitors, and of course, Perogies. What more could you ask for on a summer’s day in Roncesvalles? Find it all and more at Roncesvalles Annual Polish Festival. For a full weekend the avenue is closed to traffic and taken over by a street festival with something for everyone, whether that’s arts, culture, history, or food! Although it only happens once a year, you won’t want to miss this west-end festival if you love urban life.
While it may have been on the edge of Toronto just 100 years ago, now Roncesvalles is practically downtown and with such close proximity comes tremendous accessibility. Practically all urban transportation options are available to you in Roncesvalles: the highway, busses, streetcars, the subway, and even commuter trains.
TTC Routes in Roncesvalles
No matter where you’re heading in the Greater Toronto Area, there’s probably a convenient way to get there from Roncesvalles.
Keele and Dundas West Subway stations at the top of Roncesvalles make any destination along the Bloor-Danforth line just a short train ride away, not to mention granting access to the north-south Yonge-University Line just a few stops east.
In terms of streetcars, 5 separate routes criss-cross Roncesvalles. To go east you can take 505 along Dundas, 506 along College, or the 501 & 504 along Queen & King, respectively. One of the more popular routes is the 504 King St. route which starts up at Dundas West station and runs down along Roncesvalles Ave. before cutting downtown. Since High Park poses a big obstacle for streetcar tracks going west, the only route in that direction is the 501 Queen Car which takes passengers all the way to Mississauga along the Lakeshore.
Because of the extensive streetcar service in the neighbourhood, Roncesvalles has fewer bus routes than other parts of Toronto. The primary bus is Route 80 along Parkside Dr. which runs north-south along the eastern border of High Park.
Servicing the Kitchener Line, Bloor GO Station is a nice addition to the available transit options for travellers leaving Toronto. With so many other options available, the GO Train isn’t too convenient for travelling within the city or even accessing other GO Trains. However, Torontonians travelling to Brampton, Guelph, Kitchener, or anywhere in between could certainly find value in Bloor GO Station.
The Bloor GO Station also grants commuters access to the Union-Pearson Express, direct-service train between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station. Drastically reducing the transit time from the city’s downtown to the airport, the UP Express is an amenity most neighbourhoods don’t offer. Trains typically run every 30 minutes, but you can find full itinerary details on the UP Express website.
Meet The Neighbours
Roncesvalles may be known as a historically Polish neighbourhood, but these days the area is far more diverse when it comes to culture and demographics.
Historically a neighbourhood for working-class families, Roncesvalles remains a predominantly residential neighbourhood largely populated by families and young professionals.
The latest census data lists a population of just under 15,000 with about 10,000 people per square mile, giving the area a medium density for Toronto standards. This medium density is due in large part to the amount of single family homes and low-rise buildings in the neighbourhood.
Remarkably, the population decreased during the last census period by half a percent. That seems unthinkable considering the city’s population has been steadily increasing and was most recently assessed at 2.5%, but it seems that at least for the time being Roncesvalles is keeping its character.
In terms of resident age Roncesvalles sticks to the city’s trend pretty closely other than a considerably higher number of working aged people, though that’s likely due to the neighbourhood’s location and proximity to employment of all kinds.
The families that call Roncesvalles home are predominantly middle class with a recorded median income of about $100,000. Out of these families only 30% are immigrants, considerably less than the city average of 50%.
A majority of residents have completed higher education and the number of people without income or unemployed is decidedly lower than than in the rest of Toronto.
As might be expected for a neighbourhood that’s so well connected by public transportation almost half of residents use TTC to commute to work, and fortunately for them only about 1/10th of commuters spend more than 1 hour getting there.
Think of Roncesvalles as the popular residential area without the fuss. Compared with other well-known spots like The Beaches, Roncesvalles has a much tamer character. Sure, it can get busy, but there’s a lived-in quality to the area that makes being there feel more personal than you might amid the towering condos of Yonge St.
Another key factor in creating this more laid-back vibe is the extraordinary walk-ability. People can and do get by quite comfortably without cars or even public transportation. Getting between the main commercial strip, home, and local parks is not only possible but enjoyable when done by foot, creating a welcome change from the status quo of urban life.
Real Estate In Roncesvalles
Real Estate in Roncesvalles is predominantly ground-based property like townhomes, semi-, and fully-detached homes. The condo boom that’s taking over other parts of the city hasn’t made its mark, partly because of the many historic structures in the area.
Along Bloor St., Roncesvalles Ave., and Dundas Ave. you’ll find high-density housing and mixed use buildings, but the majority of Roncesvalles Village is covered in low-density housing.
The types of homes you’ll find here will be familiar to anyone who has visited an older neighbourhood in Ontario. Between Parkside and Roncesvalles is packed with historic homes, old-growth trees, and plenty of local character. This section of the neighbourhood has the most high-end real estate due to its proximity to the park, seclusion from the hustle and bustle of the city, and gorgeous selection of detached properties.
East of Roncesvalles contains a nice residential pocket as well, although property values tend to be slightly lower. As one of Toronto’s older neighbourhoods, Roncesvalles isn’t home to many post-war type homes. Most of the recent development is along the main thoroughfares where commercial real estate was needed.
Thinking of buying or selling in Roncesvalles? Whether you’re curious about getting into the Toronto Real Estate market or have questions which require qualified advice, Team Leo can help you get started on your real estate journey. Get in touch with one of our agents or claim a FREE home evaluation to get started.
There’s no stand out geographic feature which defines Roncesvalles aside from the avenue which gives the neighbourhood it’s name.
Western Roncesvalles Village slopes gently towards the water, especially along Parkside Dr., but the eastern half is more level. The neighbourhood’s eastern border is defined by train tracks which separate it from Little Portugal while High Park meets it on the west.
With the Lakeshore within walking distance of almost any point in the area, Roncesvalles may not be a lakefront neighbourhood but getting down to the water is convenient.
Parkdale Community Recreation Centre (Local Community Centre)
Although designated under a different name, Parkdale community centre falls within Roncesvalles’ boundaries and provides residents with the full suite of recreational facilities one can expect from a public rec centre.
That includes an indoor pool, 2 gymnasiums, and several multipurpose rooms. On top of that, the facility runs both registered and drop-in programs for kids and adults who want to take part in sport, arts, or camps.
High Park Club
Curling facilities can be hard to come by in the big city, but if it’s your sport you can do it at the High Park Club. This historic building has been serving the community for over 100 years and offers some of the best ice in the city. There are also grass tennis courts available during the warmer seasons.
Sorauren Farmers Market
Farm-fresh food and goods are brought right into the heart of Roncesvalles each week of the year at the Sorauren Farmers Market. The organization also puts together events, workshops, live music, and more. Find a full list of vendors and updates on the Sorauren Farmers Market website.
Park Place LINC Centre
Adult learning can be a worthwhile experience at any stage of life. The LINC Centre offers courses for language learners who are new to Ontario. Run by the Toronto Catholic District Schoolboard,the LINC Centre offers programs for all skill levels and all you need to get started is to take a language assessment test.
Today, you can find a respectable catalogue on site as well as regular programs for adults and children. Given Roncesvalles’ nature as a family neighbourhood, much of the regular programming at the library is for young children and parents, though programs for seniors are also offered.
Additional library resources include a large Polish Language collection to serve the historically polish neighbourhood as well as meeting rooms available for public booking.
Schools & Education
As a well-established family neighbourhood, Roncesvalles unsurprisingly has numerous public and private schools as well as supplementary educational resources and preschools.
Garden Avenue Junior Public School, 225 Garden Ave., (416) 393-9165
Mary, Mother of God School, 1515 Queen St W., (416) 531-7897
Howard Junior Public School, 30 Marmaduke St., (416) 393-9255
Westminster Classic Christian Academy, 9 Hewitt Ave., (416) 466-8819
Similar to most residential neighbourhoods that are peripheral to the downtown core, most employment opportunities in the area result from the businesses which serve residents and visitors.
As a largely pedestrian-oriented location most of the businesses in the area offer service jobs, although there are some small businesses offering professional services around Bloor St. or Queen St.
Many of the residents seeking gainful employment turn to commuting either to the downtown or to other parts of the city.
Roncesvalles is remarkably walkable. With a walkability score of 91 there’s really no definite need to own a car if you live here. If you do need transportation, the local transit is exceptional even for Toronto’s standards.
Perhaps the neighbourhood’s only accessibility shortcoming is it’s bikeability, which only comes in at 64. The streetcar tracks on Roncesvalles make bike lanes impractical going to show that you can’t have it all, unfortunately.
Green space may not be abundant in Roncesvalles itself, but just at the neighbourhood’s borders you’ll find numerous places to enjoy the outdoors. We’ll cover the local greenspace first, then fill you in on parks in the immediate vicinity.
Sorauren Ave. Park
The largest park in Roncesvalles Village, Sorauren has sports facilities, a farmers market, and is the site of a soon-to-be-completed community centre. Good for a stroll or some good old-fashioned relaxation, Sorauren Park serves the eastern have of the neighbourhood who have to far to go to High Park.
Charles G. Williams Park
Just south of Sorauren, this park is made up mostly of playground space for kids along with a winding path south that can extend your walk around Sorauren park by a few meters.
West Lodge Park
Located just east of Sorauren Park, the defining characteristic of this greenspace is the skatepark which dominates most of its surface area.
Albert Crosland Park
A small L-shaped park just north of Queen St., Albert Crosland may not have much to offer in terms of space but it does offer a break from the city next to one of Toronto’s busiest streets. It even has a wading pool for families with young children to enjoy.
While it’s not strictly within the neighbourhood, High Park might as well be for how close it is. Bordering the western side of Roncesvalles, High Park requires no introduction to any Torontonian. It’s a great place to go year round for recreation of all kinds.
Parkettes in Roncesvalles
Scattered throughout the area you’ll find several parkettes that serve just fine as a place to stretch the legs or walk the dog but just don’t have the space to offer proper park-like amenities. However, with High Park so close by it’s hard to complain.
Sorauren Dog Park is about the only off-leash dog park in Roncesvalles proper. Fortunately the dog park is well appointed with a ground surface designed for canines and plenty of space to play.
For Dog owners seeking more greenspace for their canine companions, High Park is just west of the neighbourhood and has an off-leash park of its own.
Featured Image Courtesy of Municipal Affairs & Housing : Flikr
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Downsizing crosses the minds of many Canadians in the later stages of life because of the potential financial benefits and lifestyle improvements it can provide. When the kids have left the nest and work life is winding down moving to smaller property can seem like the obvious move, yet there are many Canadians who are unsure about whether downsizing is right for them.
A recent survey about downsizing in Canada found that nearly half of baby boomers say they have no plans to downsize. So why such a contentious split on the issue?
Quite simply, Canadians just aren’t sure about the realities of downsizing. It’s not as simple as just selling your home, buying a smaller residence, then pocketing the difference. In fact, four out of ten Canadians who haven’t downsized say they’re skeptical of potential savings while a third of those who plan on downsizing admit they aren’t sure about the costs.
So, this guide will share what we at Frank Leo & Associates have learned over decades in the Toronto & GTA real estate industry helping 1,000’s of residents buy and sell homes to downsize.
We’ll start with the fundamentals, and remember that if you have any questions or require clarification about your situation don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
What is Downsizing, Exactly?
Downsizing involves selling your property, usually a single-family home, and buying a smaller property, often a townhouse, condo, or bungalow. Downsizing can mean different things to different people, but it involves switching to a smaller, cheaper residence, often with lower square footage, with a substantial difference between the selling price of the old home and the cost of the new property.
Why Do Canadians Downsize?
Although many people downsize because of the financial advantage of liquidating part of their net worth to fund retirement, some people downsize to reduce maintenance expenses on a property that isn’t fully used.
There are a number of reasons Canadians choose to downsize, but they mostly come down to financial and practical considerations. Here are some of the common reasons people choose to downsize:
Their homes have become too big for them, whether because their family has shrunk or a smaller living space is more suitable for their lifestyle
They travel to warmer climates in the winter and don’t need to pay for the upkeep of such a large space in the winter. Given Canada’s climate, it’s no surprise that snowbirding is a popular practice here.
Housework, yardwork, and maintenance become to much or they would prefer to have more free time
Cutting monthly expenses like heating, hydro, and taxes becomes a priority later in life
Moving closer to family in another part of the city or in another part of the country entirely
They need or want to downsize to pay off their mortgage or other financial obligations
The money from downsizing can help fund a more comfortable retirement
As many positive reasons as there are for downsizing, it’s a life-altering decision that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Individual circumstances vary and downsizing isn’t right for everyone even if the real estate sale and moving process goes smoothly.
Factors to Consider When Downsizing
Prospective downsizers should be aware of all the costs, risks, and considerations which can come up with downsizing. Remember that there’s more to consider than just finances when downsizing. Emotional ties to a home, local amenities, and lifestyle choices are all important factors to consider.
The Financial Considerations
Buying and selling real estate comes at a price. There are government taxes to consider on top of the expense of staging, marketing, and putting in the effort of finding a buyer who will pay top dollar for your property.
Although getting a real estate agent to sell your property comes at a price, that extra cost can be well worth it if you’ve selected the best real estate agent for you.
For one, you’re saved the hassle of handling all of the administrative and legal matters of the sale of your home. That can be a full-time proposition on its own and isn’t exactly something most downsizers want to worry about as they’re planning their new life and making the moving arrangements.
Perhaps most importantly, the right real estate agent will maximize the profit you make on the sale of your property. That extra profit can outweigh the expense of the agent’s commission.
Real estate agents specialize in finding qualified buyers for your property to maximize the value of your home sale. At Frank Leo & Associates, for example, we put a multi-million dollar marketing system to work for each client to attract the type of buyer who knows the value of the home and is willing to pay what the home is worth.
An often overlooked detail of downsizing is getting the home into a presentable condition for the sale. Referred to as staging a home for sale, making a home look its best can help up the sale price and help the home sell fast.
Staging can come at an additional cost if handled privately or with a brokerage which holds open houses. However, not all brokerages depend on open houses to sell homes. You can read more about how we market and sell homes without the use of intrusive open houses if you are interested in selling without the disruption of your day-to-day life.
There may also be essential repairs to consider before selling a home. The cost of these repairs or improvements must be factored into any downsizer’s financial calculations if they are to get an accurate idea of where they will stand after the sale.
Parting With Belongings When Downsizing
A smaller home means less space to keep things. Most people have collected a lifetime of “stuff” off all kinds – from books and clothing to furniture and even vehicles.
Some of these items are just clutter, kept just in case they come in handy someday. Others are reminders of precious family memories or a different stage of life. It’s important to consider what it’s practical to keep and what has to go. Having that question sorted out before finding a new place to live helps avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
A storage unit is always an option, but that tacks on a monthly expense that most downsizers are looking to avoid.
Condominiums are a popular downsizing option, especially for older Canadians. The convenience of the amenities most condos have combined with the lack of maintenance responsibilities make condominium community living an attractive option indeed.
That added convenience does come at a price. Condo fees should be carefully considered and budgeted for to get an accurate idea of finances.
The Costs of Moving
There’s no way to get around moving costs and expenses, and they go up the farther away you plan to move. The practical option is to get rid of unused things, but there’s probably a reason you’ve kept them all those years if you still have them around when it’s time to downsize.
The more things you have to take with you the faster moving expenses can add up. Moving across town is one thing, but crossing the country with a lifetime of personal effects can really eat into the profit of a homesale.
The Reality of Moving Away From Home
When we’re young, moving to a new place means making new friends, having new experiences, and starting life on our own terms. All of those factors may be true later in life as well, but most downsizers would probably agree that they’re moving to create a more comfortable lifestyle and not because they didn’t enjoy the community they had at home.
Unfortunately, we can’t take our friends, favourite neighbourhood spots, and local community with us. Moving away from the place you’ve called home for years isn’t something to be undertaken lightly.
There are so many real-world factors to consider when moving that one couldn’t possible factor them all in, but having as many changes accounted for as possible will make for a smoother transition.
Leaving The Memories Behind
Everyone has a special attachment to the place they call home. Simply being prepared to say goodbye to a home where you’ve shared memories and gone through milestone life events is something every downsizer should anticipate.
Even if it isn’t possible to prepare for the emotional impact of such a move, accepting that it will happen is a step closer to a smoother transition to the next place you’ll call home.
More Advice On Downsizing in Canada
If you’re thinking of downsizing give us a call or contact us through our website. Even if you’re not ready sell and you’re just looking to shed some light on a few questions or concerns, one of our staff would be happy to help make sense of downsizing and share some of the insights we’ve garnered over 3 decades in the Toronto real estate industry.