Community Profile: Vaughan

As the 18th largest city in Canada and the second largest city in York Region, Vaughan is a bustling city with much to offer its residents.

Situated on the northern border of Toronto, Vaughan links the GTA to the rural northern part of York Region.

The city’s location between the urban space of Toronto and the countryside gives Vaughan residents access to the best of both worlds. Vaughan is both a suburban city, full of greenspace and spacious homes, and a cosmopolitan city where the comforts of a modern metropolis are close at hand.

The History of Vaughan

Vaughan was the site of a Huron village, which was visited by French fur traders beginning with Étienne Brûlé in the 1600s. These fur traders were traveling the so-called Humber Trail, which connected Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.

At the conclusion of the Seven Years War, the British assumed control of French Canada. However, European settlement in the Vaughan area did not begin until the American Revolution brought many Loyalists to the area. These settlers had been displaced from their homes in the United States because of their loyalty to the British Crown.

In 1792, Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe divided Upper Canada (present day Ontario) into 16 Counties. Simcoe further subdivided the Counties into Townships, including one named Vaughan. The Township was named Vaughan in honour of one of the peace negotiators of the American Revolution, Benjamin Vaughan.

Over the course of the first half of the 19th century, the population of Vaughan grew nearly 8000%, going from 54 to 4300 between 1800 and 1840. These settlers lived tough lives engaging in farming and its attendant trades, like milling, blacksmithing, and carpentry.

The population of the Township of Vaughan remained fairly static until after the Second World War. After the war, there was an explosion of development in the region. As the population grew in these post war years, the need for administrative amalgamation became clear. In 1971, the constituent communities (Concord, Kleinburg, Maple, Thornhill, and Woodbridge), were incorporated into the City of Vaughan.


Vaughan is a prosperous and vibrant suburban city. Vaughan’s popularity and continued development is fueled by the access that it offers its residents to Toronto’s downtown core as well as the surrounding areas of the GTA.

More than 300,000 people live in Vaughan. The residents of the city describe having a very high standard of living and being proud to live in Vaughan. This civic pride lends the city a strong sense of community.

The city is very multicultural, with communities from nearly every continent calling it home. Notable among these are large Italian, Russian, South Asian, and Chinese communities.

Tower Park in Vaughan.

Real Estate in Vaughan

Vaughan’s real estate market is centred around the single-family detached home. However, there are many other housing options available in the city.

Development in Vaughan has been brisk throughout the last 20 years. In that time more than 65,000 houses have been built. Houses with three or more bedrooms are the most common construction. The new developments were built with ease of transport in mind, and are all located within 15 minutes of one of Vaughan’s major roadways.

High-rise condominiums are also available in Vaughan. The majority of these buildings have been developed near Highway 7, not far from the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre transit hub. Low-rise condominium buildings and row houses are also available in areas such as Woodbridge.

Review listings in Vaughan, or contact one of our sale representatives if you would like to learn more about property in the city. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have about Vaughan real estate.

Shopping in Vaughan

Large indoor and outdoor shopping centres are the heart of shopping fare in Vaughan. However, the former urban centres of the various communities that were incorporated into the city also provide the chance for shopping at local businesses in a quaint setting.

An example of one of these historical centres is Kleinburg Village. In this charming setting shoppers can visit a variety of boutiques, spas, restaurants, as well as family friendly trails. Another example is downtown Woodbridge at Kipling Avenue and Woodbridge Avenue. Here shoppers can experience a local business boutique experience at the Market Lane Shopping Centre. This shopping centre features many businesses that cater to the large Italian immigrant community that lives in Vaughan.

Vaughan Mills Mall

One of the major malls in Vaughan is the Promenade Shopping Centre. This indoor mall is home to 150 stores, including many popular brands. The shopping centre is adjacent to a York Regional Transit hub.

Vaughan Mills is the biggest shopping centre in York Region and one of the biggest indoor malls in Canada. The shopping centre is home to more than 200 retailers, including a mix of outlet and specialty stores, along with restaurants and entertainment venues.

Vaughan Recreation

Vaughan has many choices for recreation in the city. The city maintains many public facilities and spaces. At the same time Vaughan is home to a wide variety of privately run recreation choices.

The most well known of these private recreation facilities is Canada’s Wonderland. In this expansive, 134 hectare amusement park, guests have access to 17 roller coasters and 10 waterslides, among other attractions and rides. As the largest theme park in Canada, it is an attraction that draws people from around the world to Vaughan for a day of fun.

In the public sphere, the City of Vaughan maintains over 1000 hectares of parks and greenspaces. Peppered throughout these parks are many sports fields, playgrounds, and trails. The biggest parks in the city are the Kortright Centre for Conservation and the Boyd Conservation Area.

Similarly, the city also operates many community centres equipped for a large number of sport and fitness pastimes. The largest of these are the Al Palladini Community Centre and the Garnet A. Williams Community Centre. Each of these has a swimming pool, fitness centre, and ice rink.

Schools in Vaughan

Families in Vaughan do not have to be concerned with long commutes to school for their children. There are more than 100 public schools spread throughout the city.

The administration of these schools is divided between the York Region District School Board and the York Catholic District School Board.


Vaughan has many interconnected transportation systems that are highly integrated with each other. This facilitates easy movement for its residents throughout Vaughan, York Region, and into neighbouring regions, like Toronto and Simcoe County.

Traveling by Car

Vaughan is situated on the northern border of Toronto, and its roadways are highly interconnected with the bigger city. For this reason, the most popular method of transportation used by the residents of Vaughan is traveling by car. However, most report that their commute time is less than an hour. This is thanks to the fact that there are a wide array of transport options for commuters to take.

The most significant road in Vaughan is Highway 400, the second longest highway in Ontario. This route connects with Highway 401 in Toronto to the south. To the north, the 400 passes throughout Simcoe County, crosses through the centre of Barrie, then continues north through cottage country to Parry Sound.

Other significant roadways in the city include York Regional Road 27 and York Regional Road 7. York Regional Road 27 runs on the west side of Vaughan, running north to south. Within Vaughan this is the main road that connects Kleinburg in the north to Woodbridge in the south. Beyond Vaughan, York Regional Road 27 extends north to Barrie.

York Regional Road 7 crosses the south section of Vaughan. It connects Thornhill to Woodbridge, extending beyond Vaughan all the way to Kanata in the east and Sarnia in the west.

Public Transit in Vaughan

The municipal transit system is run by York Regional Transit (YRT). This transit system was created in 2001 when five smaller systems were amalgamated. The YRT services all nine municipalities of York Region. This means that travel from Vaughan to Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, New Market, Richmond Hill, Whitchurch-Stouffville is convenient and cheap. In 2005, YRT introduced its Viva rapid bus system that uses cutting edge technology to streamline bus service in certain areas.

In 2017, Line 1 Yonge-University of the TTC subway was expanded to Vaughan. The terminal station of Line 1 is now the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. At this station connections can be made not only to YRT and Viva routes, but also Züm, the City of Brampton’s public transit agency.

Traveling by Rail

Rail travel is also an option for commuters in Vaughan. The GO Transit commuter train service reaches Vaughan at the Rutherford GO Station. Trains can be caught here traveling either north to Barrie, or south to Toronto.

Have Questions About Real Estate in Vaughan?

If you want to learn more about buying or selling real estate in Vaughan, contact Frank Leo and Associates and we will be pleased to provide you with any information you need. Our 30 years of experience in GTA real estate are yours to take advantage of.

Barrie Community Profile featured image

Community Profile: Barrie

Situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Simcoe, the City of Barrie is a welcoming central Ontario city that offers comfortable urban living at the gateway to the serene wilderness of Georgian Bay and Northern Ontario.

This growing city has a strong sense of community and a great deal to offer its residents. Outlined here are only a few of the many factors that make Barrie a fun and exciting place to live.

History of Barrie

Prior to British settlement in the region, the Barrie region was an important transit hub for the First Nations and coureur des bois, who were trappers from New France. It was a portage between the Nottawasaga River and Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe, which was a convenient step on the canoe route between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. This same route was used by the British during the War of 1812 to move military assets to the upper Great Lakes.  Today, many of these same waterways are used by cottagers for canoeing and kayaking for leisure. 

Barrie was first settled in 1832 and named in honour of Sir Robert Barrie, Commodore of the British Great Lakes Fleet. 

By 1837, there were twenty-eight families living in the area. In 1843, Simcoe became its own district with Barrie as the District Town. The prestige of being the District Town brought government funding to construct a jail and courthouse, bringing further growth.

In 1846, there were 500 people living in the town. At this point Barrie was a bustling town, significantly more developed than much of the surrounding region. A steamship, named the Beaver, which connected Barrie to the other communities on the shores of Lake Simcoe, was based in the town. Within the town there were three churches, a district school, a mechanics’ institute, and a cricket club, as well as many professionals and tradespeople operating and doing business.

An image showing the train station in Old Barrie
The Grand Trunk railway in early Barrie.

Barrie was first connected to a rail system in the 1850s, when the Northern Railway of Canada crossed over the Oak Ridges Moraine and through Machell’s Corners (now Aurora) to the edge of Kempenfelt Bay. After that point the city grew to be the largest community on Lake Simcoe.

At the outbreak of the First World War, many young men volunteered to serve in the Simcoe Foresters and were sent overseas in 1915. But the long transportation of the troops to Niagara was found to be less than ideal. In response to this, the Canadian Expeditionary Force saw Barrie as an excellent site to establish a training base for personnel. The site, just south of the city, was known as “Sandy Plains” and was developed into a training ground for battalions bound for overseas duties. In the summer of 1916, Sir Samuel Hughes, the Minister of Militia and Defense, opened the base, naming it Camp Borden in honour of Sir Fredrick Borden. CFB Borden has remained a part of the society of Barrie ever since. 

In the 20th century Barrie’s population grew as it increasingly became a sleeper community for the GTA. The city is the gateway to Lake Huron, the Bruce Peninsula, and Northern Ontario, with The Greater Toronto Area only an hour’s drive to the south. Just as it was in its earliest history, Barrie is still situated on the threshold between the woodland and lakeside playgrounds of Ontario’s cottage country and the economic heart of Toronto. These factors, among others, make Barrie an ideal place for a family to live.  


Barrie is situated 100 kilometers north of Toronto. With a population of 197,000, it is a vibrant city that offers its residents unparalleled access to both the Ontario wilderness along with the GTA.

Barrie radiates out from the shore of Kempenfelt Bay. The historical town centre is located on the edge of the bay. Away from the water, quiet and modern suburban neighbourhoods are situated not far from Highway 400, which connects Barrie to Toronto.

The City of Barrie has a growing population, which is also diverse. It is home to large Black, South Asian, Chinese, Filipino, and Latin American communities. 

Real Estate in Barrie

The main road in Barrie is Highway 400, which is the primary road connection between Barrie and the GTA. If you are thinking of commuting from Barrie to Toronto, then you want to live in close proximity to the Highway. Luckily for commuters, the majority of the neighbourhoods are built within a 15 minute drive of the 400.

The type of dwelling that is most abundantly available on the Barrie market is the single detached home. The majority of these homes have three or more bedrooms. Since 2000, 16,320 homes have been built in Barrie.

Our representatives will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have about purchasing real estate in Barrie, so feel free to contact us.

Shopping in Barrie

Shoppers in Barrie have no shortage of choices when it comes to where to shop. There are a wide array of shopping settings from indoor or outdoor malls to flea markets and boutique shops. 

Just off of the lake front, Downtown Barrie is full of merchants providing a diverse variety of goods and services. Centred on Dunlop and Bayfield Streets, Downtown Barrie is the perfect place to find something unique or vintage, while strolling in a charming setting.

On the south side of the city, where Mapleview Drive meets Highway 400, there are many big box stores. Hundreds of retailers can be found in three large outdoor shopping centres here. The shopping centres are called Park Place, the Summit Centre, and SmartCentre South.

In the north of the city, at Bayfield Street and Livingstone Street, there are even more outdoor shopping centres. These include the Kozlov Centre, the Springwater Marketplace, and SmartCentre North. Additionally, this is the location of the Georgian Mall, an indoor shopping centre. The Georgian Mall is the largest shopping centre in Heronia, and it is home to more than 150 retailers.

At Highway 400 and Innisfil Beach Road, 10 minutes south of Barrie, there is the 400 Market. This is a flea market that is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Home to 500 vendors that sell unique new and used items, it draws thousands of shoppers every weekend. It is also home to a 30,000 square foot antique mall that is open seven days a week.   

Slightly further south, at Highway 400 and County Road 89, are the Tanger Outlets. This outlet mall features over 100 retailers selling name brand items at a reduced price. Shoppers looking for a deal would do well to not miss this shopping venue.


Residents of Barrie do not have to search far to find a fun way to spend their time. In the Barrie area there are many options for recreation seekers.

The city runs many different facilities for public use, including several recreation centres. The three main recreation centres are: Holly Community Centre, the East Bayfield Centre, and the Allendale Community Centre. Each of these centres features a swimming pool, skating rinks, fitness centres, and meeting rooms.

As for outdoor spaces, the City of Barrie maintains many gorgeous parks. The city has more than 300 hectares of city parks for residents to enjoy. These parks are chocked full of features that augment their appeal from simple green spaces to the realm of recreation facilities. Throughout the city there are parks that feature amenities like community gardens, dog off leash recreation areas, and splash pads.

 Along the shore of Kempenfelt Bay, the city maintains a series of beautiful parks and beaches. Many of these beaches are linked together by a couple of trails, the Waterfront Heritage Trail and North Shore Trail. Along this 9 km route, the trails pass through Military Heritage Park, Allendale Beach Park, Centennial Beach, the Barrie Marina, onto Johnson’s Beach. The route also passes by one of the most iconic structures in Barrie: The Spirit Catcher, a twenty ton, 25 meter tall steel sculpture that was installed in 1987. Lake Simcoe also offers many other opportunities for recreation such as fishing (in both the winter and the summer) and boating

If you are looking for an insight to the local history of Barrie, there are several museums dedicated to various subjects from the past. Among them, the Simcoe County Museum, located slightly out of town on Ontario Highway 26, covers the history of Simcoe County from the prehistory of the region to modern times. Not far from the waterfront, on Mulcaster Street, the Grey and Simcoe Foresters Museum is dedicated to the history of the military unit from its pre-World War One inception to its modern instantiation.

If you are looking for an exciting time watching horse races, Georgian Downs, located south of Barrie on Highway 400, is the perfect spot. The Georgian Downs is a venue to watch and bet on live Standardbred racing. Admission and parking at the Downs is always free. Located at the same site, Gateway Casinos Innisfil features table games such as Black jack, Roulette, Spanish 21, and Baccarat, along with virtual slot games.


Barrie is serviced by four school boards, two English and two French. Together these boards operate a total of 51 schools in the city. 

The two English language boards are made up of a total of 47 schools. The Simcoe County District School Board runs 25 public schools and 4 secondary schools throughout Barrie. The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board consists of 14 public schools and 4 secondary schools.

Barrie also has four French immersion schools. Like the English boards, the French boards are divided between a Catholic and secular board. The Conseil Scolaire Viamonde administers two schools in the city, one primary and one secondary. French Catholic schools are administered by the Conseil Scolaire Catholic Mon Avenir, which oversees one primary and one secondary school in Barrie.


Despite its situation outside of the GTA, transportation is not a problematic issue for the residents of Barrie. The city offers its residents a plethora of transit choices, which allow them to get around the city and to adjacent regions very easily. Additionally, Barrie is highly connected to the GTA. Major road and rail links with Toronto make the commute into the Provincial Capital simple and quick. 

Navigating Barrie by car is extremely convenient. However, Barrie Transit and GO transit provide alternatives for people who prefer to spend less time behind the wheel.

Road Travel

Barrie is bisected by Highway 400, which is the most important road in the city. The Highway is the second longest in Ontario after the 401. It provides Barrie with a direct link with the GTA in the south. In the north, the 400 connects Barrie with cottage country in Muskoka and on the Georgian Bay, and continues on through Parry Sound, North Bay, Sudbury, and on to Northern Ontario.

Many residents in Barrie were attracted to the town for the spacious homes and small city atmosphere, along with the convenience of the commute into Toronto. Highway 400 provides the main link between the two cities. It connects to the 401 and the 407 toll Highway in the south. Naturally, the many commuters use the Highway to drive south to Toronto. Most of these commuters drive their own car to work between 7:00-8:00 AM.

Another important road in the city is Ontario Highway 26. Within Barrie the road is known as Bayfield Street. It passes out of the city connecting it with Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, The Blue Mountains, Owen Sound, and the Bruce Peninsula

While driving in Barrie is easy and convenient, it is not required to get around. Public transit is also highly developed. The Barrie transit system makes traveling around the city by bus very easy. The system is also connected to other transit systems, making travel around the Simcoe Region and into the GTA straightforward and inexpensive.

Barrie Transit

Barrie Transit offers bus service on ten routes that cover the city. The public buses are all routed through four main transit hubs: the Downtown Terminal, the Allendale GO Station, Park Place, and the Barrie South GO Station. The Downtown Terminal also is the departure point for interurban buses operated by Ontario Northland and Greyhound.

Simcoe County LINX

The Simcoe County LINX is a regional transit system that carries passengers all across the Simcoe Region. It consists of five routes, which connect Barrie to Penetanguishene, Midland, Wasaga Beach, Orillia, Collingwood, New Tecumseth, and Bradford West Gwillimbury.     

GO Transit

Two of the important transit hubs in the city, Allendale GO Station and the Barrie GO Station, are connections to the GO rail system. The GO rail connection was established to the Barrie South Station in 2007 and expanded to the Allendale Station in 2012. These lines carry commuters to the south into the GTA. The terminal station of the line in the south is Toronto’s Union Station. From Union Station riders can make connections to the TTC, VIA rail, and the UP express. GO Transit also runs several bus lines in Barrie, which connects the city with different parts of Simcoe Region and the GTA. GO train service in Barrie and its integration with Barrie Transit, means that residents of the city can take an uncomplicated commute into Toronto without having to ever drive a car.

Have Questions About Barrie Real Estate? Thinking of buying or selling?

If you have questions about buying or selling property in Barrie or anywhere in the GTA, contact Frank Leo and Associates.

We are equipped with over 30 years of experience dealing in GTA real estate and we will be happy to share our knowledge with you.

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.


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

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.