Frank Leo’s Community Profile: Ajax

The Town of Ajax is a suburban community nestled between the City of Pickering and the Town of Whitby, offering a modern, well-planned community for GTA residents who want to avoid the bustle of urban living. 

It has a great deal to offer its residents including quiet suburban living, spacious homes, abundant greenspace, all just a short commute from Toronto.

The History of Ajax

The town owes its inception to the Second World War. Prior to the war, the land that would transform into Ajax was forest and farmland in eastern Pickering Township. However, Defense Industries Limited (DIL) constructed a munitions plant in the area in 1941 in order to help with the war effort. Workers at the plant began to purchase land in the area and the beginnings of a town developed.

By the end of the war, the DIL munitions plant had produced millions of shells and employed over 9,000 people. People from all over Canada moved to Ajax to work at DIL. The land surrounding the DIL facilities were planned and developed into a comfortable community. This burgeoning town was expertly planned, with its own water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, and school (with more than 600 students enrolled).

An aerial view of Ajax, Ontario which shows the suburban and industrial development. Image credit: creative commons.

The town, built to serve the industrial needs of the war effort, was named in honour of a British ship involved in the first significant naval victory of the war, the Battle of the River Plate, where three British war ships, HMS Ajax, HMS Exeter, and HMS Achilles, routed a powerful German battleship, named the Admiral Graf Spee, near the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.

After the war, the University of Toronto was inundated with former soldiers who were studying to become engineers. Meanwhile, the need to produce munitions at the DIL factory in Ajax ended with the war. The University took over the DIL plant and used it to house its engineering students, who retooled the facility into classrooms and laboratories. The university operated out of the former DIL site until 1949 and in those years more than 7000 students were trained as engineers there.

 In the 1950s, the industrial base of Ajax migrated to elsewhere in Durham Region and the GTA, however the population of Ajax continued to swell, as new planned developments were built, expanding the original base of the town. People were attracted to the lakeside tranquility of a small town, which was not remote, but highly integrated into the surrounding region. By 1955, the people living in Ajax had established it as a distinct town, not part of Pickering, with its own town council and school board.

Overview

Only 13 kilometres from Toronto’s eastren edge, Ajax is home to over 100,000 people. As one of the most populated communities in Durham Region, Ajax is a modern and diverse community.

Ajax is a densely populated town bounded on the north by quiet rural farmland and forests, and on the south by Lake Ontario.

People from all over the world call Ajax home and the city has an especially large South Asian population.

An image of the Ajax Ontario waterfront
The gorgeous waterfront views in Ajax, Ontario.

Real Estate in Ajax

Highway 401 travels through the centre of Ajax and the city spreads out to the north and to the south of the transit artery. The dense suburban neighbourhoods are all within a 10 minute drive to the 401.

The majority of houses in Ajax are single detached homes with four or more bedrooms. While four or more bedroom homes are the majority in Ajax, with 45% of homes fitting in this category, the second most popular kind of home are three bedroom homes. Most of these homes were built between 1960 and 2016. Ajax is full of relatively new and spacious houses ideal for growing families.

If you are interested in learning more about real estate in Ajax or browsing active listings, check the real estate listing and homes for sale in Ajax.

Ajax Shopping

Shopping venues in Ajax are concentrated in big box stores and stripmalls. These shops are concentrated mainly around two major intersections in Ajax.

Just south of the 401, near the corner of Harwood and Bayly streets, there are several shopping centres including the Ajax Plaza, the Harwood Plaza, the Baywood Centre, and the Mackenzie Plaza.

North of the 401, at the corner of Salem and Kingston roads, there are several more shopping centres and big box stores, including the RioCan Durham Centre, the Business Plaza, the Canadian Tire Centre, and the Harwood Centre.

Shoppers can find a comfortable indoor mall shopping experience at the nearby Pickering Town Centre or the Oshawa Centre.

Recreation in Ajax

There is no shortage of recreation options in Ajax. Residents in the town can choose from an extensive gamut of both private and public recreation facilities.

The Ajax Community Centre is an establishment that is run by the town of Ajax. It features a gymnasium, squash courts, a swimming pool, and a skating rink. Additionally, the centre is the base for several community organizations including the Ajax Boxing Club, the Ajax Judo Club, the Ajax Skating Club, and the Rock Oasis Rock Climbing Facility.

The Ajax community centre’s sign.

The Audley Recreation Centre is a modern, state of the art community centre located in the north-eastren section of Ajax. It features a variety of amenities including a fully equipped gymnasium and a 25 metre lap pool with six lanes. Outside of the recreation centre there are tennis courts, a skateboard park, a splash pad, a playground, basketball courts, and walking paths. The Ajax Sportsplex is located next to the recreation centre. The Sportsplex was originally built for the 2015 PanAm Games as the official facility for baseball and softball. The facility’s 7 ball diamonds are now run by the town.

Beyond recreation centres, another entertainment venue in town is Ajax Downs and Casino. Ajax Downs is the only race track in Ontario where you can watch Quarter Horse Racing. With free admission and free parking, an afternoon watching horse racing can entertain the whole family. The Downs also hosts Canada Day celebrations, Craft Brewery Day, Family Fun Day, and, every Monday, the Ajax Downs Farmers Market. The site is also home to the Ajax Casino which brings visitors from all over the GTA.

For lovers of the outdoors, Ajax offers a wide choice of green spaces for hiking, biking, or general outdoor enjoyment. There are at least 38 kilometres of trails in Ajax and 93 parks that the municipality maintains, with two leash free dog parks.

An image of the Ajax waterfront trail sign
The Great Lakes Waterfront trail map.

In particular, the Greenwood Conservation Area, at 283 hectares, is among the largest parks in the town. It features walking paths and picnic areas. Another noteworthy greenspace is the Duffins Trail System, which offers 5 kilometres of trail that is perfect for bikes, strolls, and, in the winter, cross country skiing. Finally, the Ajax Waterfront is a local gem of a park, perched on the shore of Lake Ontario. The park is six kilometres of mixed maintained and natural parkland. A 7 kilometre trail crosses through the park. This trail is part of a system of trails that stretches from Hamilton to Belleville.

Schools in Ajax

There are two school boards in Ajax, the Durham District School Board and the Durham Catholic District School Board.

In Ajax there are 27 schools, 24 elementary schools and 3 high schools, conveniently located throughout the city. They are administered by the Durham District School Board. The school board offers French immersion at several of the schools.

The Durham Catholic District School Board administers 13 schools in Ajax, 3 secondary and 10 elementary. The school board also offers French immersion at 3 of the schools in Ajax. 

Getting Around in Ajax

Ajax is highly connected to the rest of the Greater Toronto Area, along with Kawartha Lakes, Simcoe County, Northumberland County, and Peterborough County. 

The town’s suburban nature lends itself to road transportation, however Ajax provides its residents with many alternatives, in the form of Durham Regional Transit and GO Transit.

Travelling by Road

Owing to its proximity to Toronto, many of the people who live in Ajax commute into the city for work. The majority of these commuters drive their own vehicle to work, reporting that leaving between 7:00am and 8:00am gives them enough time to get to work. Commuters also report that they are predominantly heading out of the region and commuting for more than 60 minutes. 

The main travel thoroughfare in Ajax is highway 401. The highway is the main transportation route in Ontario and the most traveled road in the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor.

Durham Region Public Transportation

Durham Region Transit is one of Ontario’s largest public transportation systems. Formed in 2006 when the municipal transit systems of Pickering, Ajax, Oshawa, Whitby, and Clarington were amalgamated into one system. Durham Region Transit now services a much larger area than any of these smaller systems did. Residents in Ajax can ride DRT throughout Durham Region to each of the communities that make up the region (Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Clarington, Oshawa, Scugog, Uxbridge, and Brock). The DRT operates more than 200 vehicles, servicing nearly 3000 stops in the region. The system also features many interregional connections, which can get riders to different parts of Toronto, the GTA, as well as neighbouring regions.

Rail Transit

The Ajax GO train station is a hub stop for many DRT bus routes. From this connection, Ajax residents can take the GO train into Union Station, where connections to the TTC, Via Rail, and the UP Express are available. The GO train can also be ridden to Oshawa where Via Rail connections can be made, or to the Whitby GO station, where intercity Coach Canada and Megabus buses can be caught.  

Questions About Real Estate in Ajax

Thinking of buying or selling property in Ajax or in the GTA? Frank Leo & Associates are here to answer your questions based on 30 years of experience in the Toronto real estate business. 

We offer our expertise, honed over 30 years of experience in real estate in the GTA. Simply contact us or call (416) 917-5466 to get advice, or claim your free home evaluation if you’re thinking of selling

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An image of the Pickering Nautical village with text overlaid reading "Pickering Community Profile" just above the Frank Leo & Associates Logo

Community Profile: Pickering

Located on the eastern border of the City of Toronto, picturesque Pickering provides residents with the convenience of big city living plus the privacy and access to nature only a suburban population centre can offer.

While Toronto and all of its amenities are just a short trip away, Pickering has its own assortment of pleasant pastimes like peaceful hikes along nature trails and the multitude of leisure and entertainment options on its vibrant waterfront.

The History of Pickering

British colonial settlement began in the Pickering area around 1776. While America had already carved out its seminal presence in the south,  Augustus Jones wouldn’t be commissioned to survey the modern-day Durham region until 1791. Employed by the Surveyor General’s Office in Quebec, Jones was a native of Yorkshire who bestowed the name  Pickering on the small community of homesteads after the ancient market town of Pickering in North Yorkshire. By 1809, there were 180 people living in the Township of Pickering after Timothy Rogers led a group of Quakers from Vermont to settle in the area. 

Eventually a small village began to coalesce from the scattered homesteads on the shores of Lake Ontario. It was situated near a spot known today as Frenchman’s Bay,named after French missionaries that ministered to the native Huron-Wendat people that lived in the region in the mid 1700s.  Throughout the early 19th century Pickering’s economy was based around agriculture, however the picturesque waterfront began to attract tourists. Industrialisation also began in this period with the construction of a wharf, lighthouse, and grain elevator at Frenchman’s Bay. 

Pickering school
Pickering College in 1880. The school still serves the community today.

 

The search for work or leisure brought people to the area and the population began to grow steadily. In 1825 there were three sawmills where logs, hewn from the heavily wooded sectors north of Frenchman’s Bay, were processed for the shipbuilding industry that had developed on the lakefront. Much of Durham Region was emerging as logging country at the time and Pickering shared this profitable industry with other towns like Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Pickering remained a small rural town until after the Second World War, although industry did wane during those years. Like many of Toronto’s surrounding communities, it experienced a tremendous boom in its population in the post war years. The number of homes quadrupled in the 1960s as people flocked to the attractive and well-planned developments in the city. 

With this influx of citizens, the economy of the town moved even farther away from its agricultural roots. Manufacturing companies followed the large numbers of people moving into the area, attracted to Pickering because of its access to the rail system and Highway 401. In 1965, Ontario Power Generation brought a new addition to Frenchman’s Bay: the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. Ontario Power Generation became one of the most important employers in the city whose population has skyrocketed to 91,000 people and is projected to surpass 100,000 within a decade.

An aerial view of Pickering, Ontario
An aerial view of Pickering, Ontario following industrialization. Image courtesy Joe Mabel under creative commons.

Overview of Pickering

Situated on the eastern edge of Metropolitan Toronto in the south-western corner of Durham Region, Pickering is a lakefront city that provides its residents quick and convenient access to Toronto and its world-class amenities but also offers hundreds of acres of parks, conservation areas, and greenspaces that afford its residents many opportunities for leisure, recreation, and a rich family life.

Pickering is a welcoming, safe community with the highest diversity rate in Durham Region. The city has a healthy economy with new residents and businesses from all over the world being drawn by the excellent value of property and quality of life in the city.

With direct access to major highways and rail systems and an educated and skilled labour force (the majority of residents have completed highschool and more than 30% have a university degree), Pickering is an excellent place to do business or find work. Ranging from serene rural living in the north to  to the modern city with a scenic and historical waterfront in the south, Pickering offers a great deal to people looking for a place to live and work.

Real Estate in Pickering

Pickering’s housing market is mostly centered on single family detached homes, which make up more than 50% of the houses in the city. The houses are very spacious, with more than 44% of them having at least 4 bedrooms or more. Ample space and privacy are a welcome change for many residents moving from Toronto. It’s an especially attractive proposition for  families. Pickering homes were mostly built between 1961 and 2000, with the bulk  of them being built between 1981-1990

The residential neighbourhoods in Pickering are all within a ten minute drive to highway 401 or the Pickering GO terminal. Located even closer to the highway are higher density residence choices such as row houses and condominiums.

If you are interested in getting more information about Pickering real estate, contact one of our representatives for expert advice, or review real estate listings & homes for sale in Pickering.

Pickering Shopping

The suburban nature of Pickering lends itself nicely to shopping malls and big box stores, which are the most abundant retail options in the city. However, Pickering also features local, boutique style shopping in the Nautical Village.

The Nautical Village in Pickering Ontario
Nautical Village by Lake Ontario. The neighbourhood offers a boutique shopping experience to residents.

With over one hundred and fifty stores, the Pickering Town Center has something for everyone – especially those looking for a self-contained day out. The indoor mall is expansive and located close to Highway 401, making it convenient for commuters. It’s modern aesthetic is matched by unbridled accessibility for those who require mobility accommodations.

Located nearby, SmartCenters Pickering provides the city with a large array of big box stores and serves as the typical “Strip Mall” for the area. 

South of the 401 on the edge of Frenchman’s Bay, the quaint shops, businesses, and restaurants that make up Pickering Nautical Village await shoppers who are looking for locally-owned boutique shops. Its scenic location adds to the exciting and vibrant lakefront ambiance. Nautical Village offers a more bespoke, bohemian shopping experience and serves as the perfect launching point for a day by the water.

If you are looking for a unique second-hand find or something from a local business, the Pickering Markets are the perfect spot to shop. Over a hundred vendors offer an expansive variety of goods, services, and food, including new and used items.

Recreation in Pickering

There is no shortage of recreation and leisure activities in Pickering. Hiking, water sports, boating, and golfing are all available within the city limits. Pickering’s waterfront is especially packed with recreational opportunities. As one of the few GTA communities on the waterfront, there’s no shortage of beach-goers or water sport enthusiasts taking advantage of world-class fresh-water sailing, kite surfing, or just stand-up paddle boarding.  

Pickering Beach seen from the shore
A view of Pickering’s waterfront beach where leisure abounds for nature lovers.

The City of Pickering operates the Chestnut Hills Development Recreation Complex, which is a large facility located in central Pickering. It features a fully equipped gym with a staff that can provide personal training and fitness classes. It also features an 8 lane 25-metre pool, a skating rink, along with courts for racquet sports, such as tennis, squash, and racquetball. 

Owing to the large amount of greenspace in Pickering, hiking enthusiasts, joggers, and cyclists have an expansive array of choices when it comes to trails. Among them are:

  • The Seaton Trail provides a green zone with many hiking or cycling opportunities to the north of Pickering.
  • Altona Forest — 53 hectares of forest with a multitude of trails 
  • A Gorgeous waterfront trail that offers a wide variety of activities and attractions. The trail circles Frenchman’s Bay, granting access to beaches, boardwalks, and the Marina.
  • Rouge Park Valley — At 2,000 acres, this huge urban park is one of the biggest in North America. The urban park project has its own programming for those who would prefer to explore with some guidance.
A view of Pickering Waterfront trail at the harbour.

Similarly, those looking for a leisurely and informative walk could pay Pickering Museum Village a visit. A living history museum that allows visitors to walk through historic buildings from Pickering’s past. The museum is full of information about the development of Pickering from 1810 to 1920 and an essential destination for any lover of early Canadian history.

Pickering Schools

Pickering is serviced by the Durham District School Board, which has 15 elementary schools and 2 high schools. The schools are conveniently located throughout the city, so students rarely face significant commutes. The French immersion program is available at Sir John A. MacDonald Public School and Pickering High School.

Additionally, Pickering is also serviced by the Durham Catholic District School Board. The catholic school board operates 6 schools in Pickering, 5 elementary schools and 1 high school, spread out in the city.

In addition to public education, Pickering has private schools like those of the Montessori variety for parents seeking alternative educations for their children. 

Getting Around in Pickering

Public Transportation in Pickering

Pickering is serviced by Durham Region Transit, which provides the city with a public transportation system that facilitates easy movement between all of the major communities which comprise Durham Region (Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Scugog, Uxbridge, Whitby). Durham Region Transit is highly integrated with surrounding transportation systems. A rider can connect with the TTC, YRT, GO Transit, Orillia Transit, and Lindsay Transit with ease. Connections to inter-city coach bus services are available at Whitby GO Station and VIA Rail at Oshawa.

Pickering’s convenient, accessible GO Transit hub.

Getting Around Pickering by Car

The most important freeway in Ontario and the Province’s backbone highway, Ontario Highway 401, passes right through the centre of Pickering. The majority of the city has been developed within a ten minute drive of the 8 lane highway. The Don Valley Parkway and Highway 404 are only a 20 minute drive on the 401 from the centre of Pickering, granting commuters access to downtown Toronto and York Region, respectively. On the east side of Pickering, Highway 412 connects the 407 toll highway which runs along the north edge of Pickering to the 401.

Rail Transportation in Pickering

Pickering GO Station is located adjacent to Highway 401 and  provides a direct rail link with Union Station. From there,  a traveler can link with VIA Rail to ride trains anywhere in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, or take the UP Express to Pearson International Airport. Alternatively, a rider could transfer from the GO Train at Oshawa to the VIA system.

The plethora of transit options combined with the relative affordability of land in Pickering, have made the city attractive for businesses. With those businesses came the workers and ancillary industries which provide the amenities to residents . This influx of industry has brought jobs to Pickering and that number is projected to climb, giving manyPickering residents the option to avoid the commute to Toronto, if they so choose. 

Questions About Pickering or Pickering Real Estate?

If you’re interested in buying or selling real estate in Pickering or Durham Region or you simply want to learn more about property in the area, feel free to contact Frank Leo & Associates.

One of our qualified team members would be more than happy to help lend professional real estate advice whether you’re buying or selling in the GTA. 

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As Ontario reopens, restrictions loosen, and the number of kids in childcare centres is allowed to increase.

The Ministry of Education previously limited the number of people per room in a childcare centre to 10 to stop the spread of COVID-19. Cohorts are limited to 15 children plus staff. The kids cannot be mixed with other cohorts and must stay together throughout the program for a minimum of 7 days.

Read more HERE

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Federal officials are investigating companies including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon for antitrust violations. The Justice Department, under Attorney General William Barr, is expected to file a monopolization case against Google in the coming weeks.

Read more HERE

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Chief Dave Cunliffe was quoted saying, “We still have a very deep-seated fire with the structural collapse. We got fire in a lot of these buildings, especially the middle block where we got the eight units, so we’ve still got aerial operations going.”

Despite all the damage, the fire is under control. The cause of the fire is to be determined; no injuries have been reported.

Read more HERE

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Foodzinga is launching this Saturday, July 25, becoming the latest arrival to the Toronto food delivery scene. 80 local restaurants have already signed up.

Read more HERE

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Disney’s big-budget film “Mulan” has been postponed indefinitely. The media giant has also pushed back the latest installments of “Star Wars” and “Avatar” by a year according to statements Disney made on Thursday. 

With its release most recently delayed to August 21, the live-action “Mulan” had earlier been postponed twice. Movie fans will have a hard summer in terms of new releases.

Read more HERE

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The federal government is being asked to relax rules that make parents of students in the United States who hoped to begin their university studies in Canada this fall next to impossible for their kids to enter the country.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has shut the door to students with study permits granted after March 18, the day Canada and the U.S. announced a ban on non-essential cross-border travel, while students with pre-existing valid permits will be allowed in.

Read more HERE