Toronto’s vibrant Parkdale neighbourhood is filled with different cultures, highly-walkable streets, and a range of Victorian and Georgian Revival homes. It highlights 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 guide covering the area’s history, current culture, and what it’s like to live, work and play in this part of this 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.
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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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