Markham Community Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

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.

History

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. 

Overview

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. 

Interested in learning more about Markham real estate? Review real estate listings & homes for sale in Markham or reach out to one of our representatives for expert advice. We’re here to answer all of your real estate questions. 

Shopping

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.

Markham’s primary shopping centres include:

  • King Square Shopping Mall,  a large, newly-built Asian shopping centre 
  • CF Markville, a chain mall with all the big international brands 
  • Pacific Mall, the largest indoor Asian shopping mall in North America
  • Langham Square, a shopping & residential complex in south Markham 

There are numerous other small shopping malls and plazas in Markham, many of them hosting businesses which cater to the large Asian community.

Recreation

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:

Schools

York Region District School Board runs the public school system in Markham while the York Catholic District School Board operates Catholic schools in the area. 

Markham also has 2 French language boards, both Catholic and secular, known as Conseil Scolaire Viamonde MonAvenire and Conseil Scolaire Viamonde, respectively. The French boards operate relatively few schools because of the predominantly anglophone population of Markham. 

Transportation

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. 

Have Questions About Markham?

If you’re thinking of buying or selling real estate in Markham or you’re seeking advice about real estate in the area don’t hesitate to reach out to Frank Leo & Associates

We have over 30 years of real estate experience in the GTA at your disposal. You can also get started taking advantage of our Guaranteed Home Selling System with a Free, no-obligation Home Evaluation

Brampton Community Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

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. 

History

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. 

Overview

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. 

If you’re thinking of buying or selling real estate in Brampton, consult our Brampton community real estate listings to get an idea of the current real estate market conditions. 

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.

Shopping

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. 

Recreation

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.  

Schools

Brampton is serviced by the Peel District School Board and the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Public Schools

For a complete list of public schools managed by the Peel District Schoolboard, consult the school directory.

Catholic Schools

You can find a complete list of the Catholic Schools in Brampton on the Dufferin-Peel Catholic school directory.

Transportation

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

Thinking of buying or selling property in Brampton? Whether you’re considering moving to a new neighbourhood or becoming a resident of this popular Canadian city, you can trust our extensive real estate experience to help you with your next real estate move. 

Contact Frank Leo & Associates with your real estate or get started selling your home with a FREE home evaluation!

Richmond Hill Neighourhood Profile

Toronto Neighbourhood Profile: Richmond Hill Community & Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

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. 

Becoming Miles Hill

By the turn of the century, English and German speaking settlers who came to the area were calling it “Miles’ Hill” after a prominent local settler Abner Miles and his son James. 

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. 

Transforming Into Richmond Hill

While there’s no conclusive record of exactly when and how Miles’ Hill changed to “Richmond Hill,” several explanations exist. 

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. 

Now appearing on maps and gaining wider exposure, Richmond Hill saw a real population boom. During this period the town was seeing annual population growth of up to 9%. 

Of course with increased demand, Richmond Hill real estate value went up and attracted more affluent settlers who in turn built larger homes and estates. 

Trying Times For Richmond Hill

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. 

That would soon change as Richmond Hill saw explosive population and real estate growth which continues to this day thanks to globalization and immigration. In fact, during the mid-70’s Richmond Hill had some of the most expensive real estate prices in Canada

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

Thinking of buying or selling property in Richmond Hill? Let Frank Leo & Associates be your guide. As the #1 Real Estate Team in Toronto & The GTA* we can help you achieve your real estate goals. 

Whether you’re looking for your dream home in Richmond Hill or you’re thinking of selling property, a team member would be happy to help review your options. 

You can take the first step by getting in touch with us directly, browsing current Richmond Hill real estate listings, or claiming a FREE, no-obligation home evaluation

Toronto neighbourhood profile newmarket

Newmarket, Ontario: Neighbourhood and Real Estate Profile from Frank Leo & Associates

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. 

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Toronto neighbourhood profile Parkdale

Parkdale Toronto Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates: Compiled From Years of Experience Buying & Selling Real Estate in Toronto & The GTA

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. 

Today’s Parkdale 

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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Toronto nieghbourhood profile danforth village

Danforth Village Toronto Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

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. 

Thinking of buying property in Danforth’s East End? Get help finding the perfect property from Frank Leo & Associates, a team with decades of experience in Toronto’s real estate industry. You can also browse current Danforth real estate listings.

Landmarks & Notable Features

Taylor-Massey Creek Park

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. 

Dentonia Park

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. 

Danforth Avenue

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

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An image of roncesvalles ave in Toronto overlaid with the Text "Toronto Neighbourhood Profile: Roncesvalles"

Roncesvalles Toronto Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

Click on one of the headings in the table of contents to jump directly to that section. 

Introduction

History of Roncesvalles

Landmarks & Notable Features

Things To Do In Roncesvalles

Public Transportation

Meet The Neighbours

Local Culture

Real Estate In Roncesvalles

Geography

Residential Amenities

Employment

Walkability

Greenspace

Dog Parks

Welcome To Roncesvalles

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. 

Have questions about Roncesvalles?  Considering buying or selling property in the area? Reach out to one of our team members with any questions or get a FREE home evaluation to see what you could expect to get for your property. 

History of Roncesvalles

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

Roncesvalles Ave. 

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. 

Revue Cinema 

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. 

High Park

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. 

Roncesvalles Carhouse

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. 

Public Transportation

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. 

For a complete list of TTC options, consult the TTC Trip Planner.

Bloor GO Station

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.

Visit the GO Transit Website for details about schedules and route options.

Union-Pearson Express

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. 

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.  

Local Culture

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. 

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Geography

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. 

Residential Amenities

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. 

Libraries

Toronto Public Library High Park Branch is another of Toronto’s Carnegie Libraries, and as such is nearly identical to the Wychwood and Beaches libraries. Opened in 1916, the library is listed on Toronto’s Register of Historic Properties but continues to serve the public thanks to a renovation in the late 1970’s. 

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. 

Elementary Schools

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

Fern Avenue Junior & Senior Public School, 128 Fern Ave., (416) 393-9130

Catholic Schools

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, 116 Fermanagh Ave., (416) 393-5227

Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, 1515 Bloor St W, Toronto, (416) 393-5545

Secondary Schools

West Park Secondary School, 1515 Bloor St W., (416) 393-0320

Adult Schools

Park Place LINC Centre, 2299 Dundas St W. Theatre, (416) 397-6593

Childcare & Private Schools

The Artful Child, 214 Wright Ave., (416) 970-9004 

High Park Gardens Montessori School, 35 High Park Gardens, (416) 763-6097

Odyssey Montessori School, 136 Sorauren Ave, (416) 535-9402

Employment

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. 

Walkability

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

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.

High Park 

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. 

Dog Parks

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

Featured image of the Toronto neighbourhood profile for Mimico

Mimico Toronto Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

Click on one of the headings in the table of contents to jump directly to that section. 

Introduction

History of Mimico

Landmarks & Notable Features

Things To Do In Mimico

Public Transportation

Meet The Neighbours

Local Culture

Real Estate In Mimico

Geography

Residential Amenities

Employment

Walkability

Greenspace

Dog Parks

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.

An image of historic mimico intended to show off the neighbourhood for a Toronto Mimico Neighbourhood Guide
photo courtesy of wikicommons

The town truly began to grow as a year-round community in 1906, when the Grand Trunk Railway opened its Mimico Yards. The need for nearby housing, as more railway workers and their families arrived, led to a building boom

Mimico was incorporated in 1917 and retained its town status until 1967, when it was amalgamated with the borough of Etobicoke. In 2001, it became a community within Toronto.

Landmarks & Notable Features

“Embassy Row”

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. 

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. 

An image of the Humber Bay Arch bridge intended to show the neighbourhood landmarks for a Toronto Neighbourhood profile
image courtesy wikicommons

SanRemo Bakery

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. 

An image of humber bay shores park intended to show off the area for a Toronto Neighbourhood Profile of mimico

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.

image: wikicommons

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. 

Public Transportation

As one of Toronto’s older neighbourhoods, Mimico is well-connected to the rest of the city by not only the TTC but by GO Train service as well. The grid layout of the neighbourhood makes choosing a transit route simple and unambiguous. TTC Service is ubiquitous in Toronto, but what sets Mimico aside in terms of convenience is the GO Train which gives fast access to other Toronto neighbourhoods and other cities entirely. 

TTC Service in Mimico

Going north or getting to the Bloor-Danforth Line is as simple as catching either the 110 Islington Bus or the 76 Royal York Rd. bus from anywhere on Lake Shore Blvd. W. and above. 

Crossing the east-west axis is a little trickier if you are north of Lake Shore Blvd. W. Since the neighbourhood is bisected by railroad tracks, there aren’t many convenient bus routes for getting across Mimico. 

Luckily, just north of the Gardiner Expressway there’s Route 80 which takes you along the Queensway either to Sherway Gardens in the west or eastbound to Parkside Dr. 

However, if you’re near the water the 501 Streetcar service on Lakeshore will take you all the way to downtown and beyond, but you’ll have to switch streetcars at the Humber Loop. The transfer keeps you on the same route and doesn’t require an extra fare. It’ll take you along the Gardiner Expressway until it meets Queen St. West, then it goes all the way across town to the Neville Park Loop. 

It can be a rather enjoyable journey even though the 501Streetcar is one of the more popular streetcar routes in the city. It takes you around the Humber Bay, past High Park, and through one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Best of all, if you get on in Mimico you’ll have a good chance of grabbing a seat before the streetcar gets busy around Roncesvalles Ave.

Use the TTC Trip Planner to map out your journey from start to finish. 

Mimico GO Train Station 

The Mimico GO Train Station is a transportation amenity that not all Toronto neighbourhoods are lucky enough to have. The centrally-located GO Station grants Mimico residents access to Toronto’s entire waterfront stretch and beyond. With the Presto system in place, switching onto the TTC is simpler than ever as riders can use the same card to pay TTC fares. 

Commuters can hop on for a comfortable and stress-free commute to Liberty Village or the downtown core via Union Station. 

Those with a farther destination can either transfer onto the Eastbound Line and ride as far as Oshawa. In the other direction, you can get on at Mimico and ride all the way to Hamilton. Although Mimico may not be the most walkable neighbourhood, it certainly has some advantages which it comes to intercity and mid-range travel. 

Visit the GO Transit website for full route times and details. 

Meet The Neighbours

As a neighbourhood in Toronto’s largest city, Mimico is diverse in terms of age, culture, and the background of its residents. According to the latest census data, the neighbourhood has a population of over 34,000 residents and it’s growing fast. The population change in the 5 year span between 2011 and 2016 alone shows an increase of 28%. 

This rapid growth is due in large part to the continued development of the condominium community in the neighbourhood’s east end, a development which shows no signs of slowing down. 

The population density is around 5,000 people per square kilometer, although the condominium community pumps that average up considerably. 

Demographics

Over recent years, Mimico has steadily transitioned from a predominantly family community to a hub for working professionals drawn to the condo developments along Lakeshore Blvd. W. 

Over 65% of residents are working-age people between the ages of 25 & 64. 60% of residents live in 6+ storey apartment-type housing and a whopping 46% of homes are single person households. 

With the proportional number of children and youth well below the city average (10% vs. 15%)  and the working age population considerably higher compared with other neighbourhoods (52% vs. 45%), it’s clear Mimico has undergone a demographic change along with its housing development. 

Median family income is only slightly higher than the Toronto average at about $93,134, but the proportion of the Mimico population living in what is considered poverty is also below city averages. 

Local Culture

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. 

An image of condo's in Toronto's Mimico neighbourhood
Condos in Mimico. Image: B.Kasimov, Flikr

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. 

Interested in real estate in Mimico? Frank Leo & Associates have all of your real estate needs covered with decades of experience selling & buying properties in the area. Get in touch to find out how we can accommodate your real estate needs. You can also catch all the latest Mimico real estate listings on our website.

Geography

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. 

An image of the Toronto neighbourhood of Mimico taken from Google Maps

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.  

Residential Amenities

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. 

Mimico Arena

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. 

Libraries

Mimico’s only library is the Toronto Public Library Mimico Centennial Branch, but it’s quite sizeable for a local branch. Built over 100 years ago thanks in part to an endowment from The Carnegie Corporation, it was updated in 1966 and has been in steady operation since. 

The branch offers all the amenities you’d expect from a major metropolitan library branch plus a spacious second floor with ample room to study, read, or relax. 

Mimico Branch is also one of the few Toronto Library Branches which features both meeting rooms and a Theatre / Auditorium you can book

You can take advantage of Library programming for patrons of all ages. These programs include everything from March Break camps for kids to adult book clubs. 

Take a look at the library website for an up-to-date list of programming.

Schools & Education

Mimico has no shortage of both private and public schools, though the only high schools in the immediate area are just slightly outside of the neighbourhood’s boundaries. Mimico High School closed in 1988. John English Junior Middle School now occupies the Mimico Highschool building. 

In addition to regular TDSB elementary schools, Mimico is home to Montessori Schools, Bi-lingual Schools, and Nurseries. Both the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District Schoolboard service this neighbourhood. 

Elementary Schools

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

Catholic Schools

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

Employment

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. 

Walkability

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

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. 

Green Space

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. 

An image of the the view from Humber Park Bay West
The view looking west from Mimico’s Humber Bay Park West waterfront park. image: wikicommons

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. 

Dog Parks

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. 

the featured image of the Beaches toronto neighbourhood profile blog post

The Beaches Toronto Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

Click on one of the headings in the table of contents to jump directly to that section. 

Introduction

History of The Beaches

Landmarks & Notable Features

Things To Do In The Beaches

Public Transportation

Demographics

Local Culture

Real Estate In The Beaches

Geography

Residential Amenities

Employment

Walkability

Greenspace

Dog Parks

Welcome To The Beaches, Toronto’s Beachfront Community

Toronto’s “The Beaches” neighbourhood is the supremely popular East End neighbourhood with a quaint, small-town atmosphere and nearly 2 kilometers of beach along the Toronto shoreline. Although its officially known as “The Beach” everyone calls it The Beaches, and its borders are Victoria Park Ave. and Leslie St. on the East/West axis and Kingston Ave. to the Toronto Shoreline on the other axis. 

The beach and boardwalk make this neighbourhood the perfect destination for swimming, sunbathing, volleyball, or just casual relaxation and draw big crowds of locals and tourists alike during the summer. It’s a good place to get away from the concrete jungle of downtown any time of year, so many families and young professionals choose this part of the city to settle in. 

Queen St. East is the neighbourhood’s vibrant commercial centre. There you’ll find businesses of all kinds amid a small-town main street atmosphere even though it’s near the heart of Toronto. It’s got unique bistros, family restaurants, intimate cafes, and plenty of spots for brunch along with the bakeries, ice cream parlours, and the independent local shops which give it that reputation for quaintness. Off the main strip, you can take advantage of all the green space and sports facilities plus the local events which take place there. 

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History of The Beaches

An image of The Beaches waterfront back in 1919
The Beaches as they appeared in 1919.

The Beaches has old buildings, new urban culture, and modern living. We owe this quaint neighbourhood atmosphere to the area’s history, back when the city was still growing into the metropolis it is today. The neighbourhood used to be a sparsely-populated outlier community which was then transformed into the hip neighbourhood it is today by several City of Toronto infrastructure developments.

Before it had yoga studios and pet groomers, this patch of land East of the Don Valley was heavily wooded swampland dotted with private homes. In the early 1900s, the Toronto Harbour Commission acquired the shoreline and what is now the Kew Gardens Park, then private land. 

By 1930 the city had enlarged the original beach which was not continuous into one long public park using wooden groynes, finally opening the public boardwalk and other beachfront facilities to the public in 1932.

At the beginning of the 20 Century, The Beaches was home to several local amusement parks. Victoria Park and Munro Park were in operation from the late 1800s until 1906 and Scarboro Beach Park from 1907 until around 1930. These parks aren’t just in the history books. You’ll recognize the names from the local streets which were named after them. There was even a ferry, called the Victoria Park Ferry, which connected the amusement parks to the downtown core, but it was discontinued after the parks closed. 

Landmarks & Notable Features

As one of the city’s older neighbourhoods, The Beaches have more to offer than just older buildings and hip bistros to have brunch. While these attractions might not bring tourists flooding in like the beach, residents of The Beaches probably like to keep it that way. Visit in the summer and you’ll see why. Here are the notable features and landmarks which will be familiar to most residents:

Kew Gardens is a medium-sized park in the neighbourhood running from Queen Street to Lake Ontario and includes the Alex Christie Bandstand for concerts. Every July, the neighbourhood celebrates the Beaches International Jazz Festival, drawing thousands to the area. However, now most of the performances occur at Woodbine Beach Park. It’s the neighbourhood’s hub, with many festivals, craft shows, concerts and exhibitions taking place here.

Woodbine Beach & The Boardwalk are where the neighbourhood gets its namesake. Starting with the paisley-shaped Woodbine beach to the east, sandy terrain stretches east as far as the neighbourhood, flanked all the way along by a glorious boardwalk which is big enough to accommodate the crowds on even the hottest summer days. Excess beach-goers who didn’t find a spot on the beach can set up in one of the 3 big parks which can be found on the other side of the boardwalk. 

An image of the beaches boardwalk in Toronto used to illustrate the neighbourhood vibe for Frank Leo's Toronto Neighbourhood Profile

Glenn Stewart Ravine is like a mini (seriously mini) Taylor Creek or Don Valley. It may not have the size of its bigger cousins but you also don’t have to look far to get back to the action on Queen St. East. You won’t even have to worry about your cappuccino getting cold if you decide to go for a stroll. It stretches from Queen St. East, where the grass and parkland are well-manicured, all the way to Kingston Road and gradually turns into a more rugged trail along the way. 

Queen St. East is where everything happens, the artery of The Beaches. If the boardwalk is the balmy place of relaxation, the Queen St. East. strip is a commercial centre bustling with independent shops, cafes, restaurants, and all the other amenities a major metropolitan area affords its residents. 

R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, an industrial facility with iconic status for its role in media over the years. It’s been featured in films like “Half Baked”, “In the Mouth of Madness”, “Four Brothers” and “Undercover Brother.” Its reputation among those in the know is legendary for its central prominence in Michael Ondaatje’s novel In the Skin of a Lion, itself about the building of many well known Toronto structures including the Bloor-Danforth Aqueduct. 

The Beaches Toronto District Library Branch is one of the few Carnegie Libraries in Toronto. Endowed by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and built in the English Collegiate style, there’s no better place in the neighbourhood to grab a coffee, sit down with a book, and feel at ease in a truly literary place. The library opened in 1914 and has undergone a number of alterations and updates, so if you can’t find a book that suits you the library itself is fascinating to learn about and admire. 

Watersports. Lake Ontario is a world-class venue for water sports of all kinds including sailing, kite surfing, wind-surfing & more, so many of the necessary amenities for these activities can be found on and around Woodbine Beach. Yacht and sailing clubs flank Woodbine Beach in Ashbridge’s Bay while businesses that will rent you everything from a paddleboard to a kayak can be found along the boardwalk stretching East. 

The Balmy Beach Club is a local institution. The private social and sports club has been in operation since 1905 and has been tying together the local athletics and social scene ever since. It continues to be a local gathering place and with mature trees sheltering a patio looking out on the lake, there’s no doubt that this urban oasis could be one of the best patios in Toronto.

Things to Do in The Beaches

Take In Nature

No matter what your preferred way of experiencing nature might be, it can be had in The Beaches. Walking through the Glenn Stewart Ravine at parts feels like you are out of the city entirely and provides more of a hiking experience while the boardwalk and many area parks have plenty of benches protected by shade from old-growth trees if you prefer to sit down, relax, and watch the life of the city unfolding before you between sips of a coffee. Kew Gardens park even features a sizable gazebo that’s ideal for enjoying the park without too much sun. It’s also a great Instagram opportunity. 

Go To Brunch

Numerous brunch-able restaurants, cafes, and diners line the Queen St. East strip which runs through The Beaches, any one of them a more than adequate venue for your Sunday brunch prospects. Just be warned. Getting a table might not be too easy if you don’t plan ahead, especially in the summer. Sitting on a Queen St. patio before strolling down to the beach or one of the area’s many parks is a quintessential Beaches past-time. 

Hit The Beach

Toronto doesn’t exactly spring to mind when most people think of big-city beaches, but it’s there and it’s more than worth a day trip. Bring a blanket, a cooler, a few towels, and a frisbee along with your friends or family and you have yourself a day filled with fun, sun, and excitement – or relaxation, for that matter. There are several cove-type sections of the beach if you just want to get your feet wet and there’s ample space for swimming if you prefer to go all the way. Just remember that the beach isn’t always guarded, so be sure to stay safe if you go in the water. If you prefer beach volleyball or sand-sports, head to Woodbine Beach closer to Ashbridge’s Bay, but if it’s water-side lounging and swimming your after you’re better off grabbing a spot along the nearly 2-km. Stretch of sand between Kew Beach Park and Balmy Beach Park. 

An image of Kew Beach as it appears in the summer, intended to show of the neighbourhood for Frank Leo's Toronto Neighbourhood profile of the beaches

Play Some Sports

In the summer recreational possibilities are plentiful. It’s no wonder this area draws crowds. You can swim at the Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pool, take a dip in the lake, play a tennis match on the courts near the beach, rent a paddleboard and explore the bay, or just play frisbee in one of the neighbourhood’s beautiful parks. 

Go For A Bike Ride

Some of Toronto’s best cycling can be had on the Martin Goodman trail immediately North of the beach’s boardwalk. The trail has a dedicated cycling lane, and riding down it while the beach is teeming with activity might be one of the best ways to experience this slice of Toronto life. Cycling is also a terrific way to see all the landmarks and survey the neighbourhood. Just be warned that North of Queen St. East you’ll be facing a stark uphill climb. After exploring the beach you can hit the streets for some urban exploring or take the trail all the way West to Humber Bay, traveling through the Downtown Waterfront District along the way. It’s a great way to experience Toronto if you’re athletically inclined. 

Picnic in One of The Parks

Whether you couldn’t get in somewhere for brunch or you simply prefer the great outdoors, picnicking bliss is waiting for in any of the many parks in The Beaches. Just make sure you bring enough food and a good book because you may not want to leave once you set up camp. Greenspace along the beach is generally subject to pretty high traffic, so it might be a bit crowded and uncomfortable for picnicking. Instead, you can try Kew Gardens Park, Woodbine Beach Park, or the less populous parts of Ashbridge’s Bay Park down by the peninsula which separates the Yacht Club from the lake.

Walk The Ravine

Glenn Stewart Ravine that runs through the centre of the neighbourhood may not have the length of the Don Valley or Humber Valley, but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in charm. Strolling the length of the ravine is a nice way to get away from the crowds on the beach and get away from the feeling of a big city. The Northernmost part of the ravine near Kingston Road is enclosed in foliage and can make you forget you are in Toronto, especially if traffic is light. Further south you’ll find a more manicured park nestled among beautiful homes on both sides. The whole experience can be a refreshing break from a busy day walking the boardwalk or hitting the beach. It’s terrific for pets, too. 

Various public and private organizations also run regular events throughout the year ranging from food tasting to the famous jazz festival.

Public Transportation

Getting to and from The Beaches is simple and convenient. With a transit score of 88, the area is considered highly accessible by transit.

It’s accessible despite not being situated directly on a subway line thanks to its many buses and the famous 501 streetcar. The 501 ride west is in itself somewhat of a treat as you get to experience all of the neighbourhood’s charms from the comfortable vantage point of one of Toronto’s new streetcars. 

An image of the 501 Streetcar on Queen St. East in the beaches

Getting to the subway system is just a matter of hopping on one of the Northbound bus lines to either Main St. Station or Woodbine Station.

Torontonians from other parts of the city who are hoping for a beachside weekend getaway will typically take the Route 92 Bus down from Woodbine Station, so it can get pretty packed in the summer. Alternatives include the Route 64 Bus from Main St. Station, although this route meanders through a residential neighbourhood and is, therefore, less direct – hence the popularity of Route 92. There’s a 3rd route available from Coxwell Station, but the bus only makes it as far as Kingston Ave. before turning towards Victoria Park, and even then it’s only available between 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. on weekday evenings and 24 hrs. On weekends). 

Consult the TTC Trip Planner for more information on the area’s transit routes.

Meet The Neighbours

Demographics

The Beaches is a family neighbourhood. Like any neighbourhood in a major city, The Beaches is far from homogenous, but if Queen St. West is the young happening bohemian strip, Queen St. East is home to more couples, families, and generally settled-in folks overall. 

According to the latest census data, the population is 21,567 with a population density of 6,058 per square meter. That’s considerably lower than the downtown average and even lower than some of the other residential neighbourhoods in the city.

Most of the residents are working age (58.8%) or in the pre-retirement years. There are far fewer college-aged youths, placing this neighbourhood firmly in the family-friendly category. A walk through any of the side streets will confirm that it’s really more of a family neighbourhood. You’re more likely to run into families with strollers than groups of young people. 

Median family income is ~$150,000, making The Beaches a solidly middle-class neighbourhood.  With low-income households only making up about 10% of the area’s residential population the area is certainly a more exclusive place to live. North of Queen St. East you’ll find a more middle-class environment. South of Queen is where you’ll find some of the more exclusive housing, some of which is quite elegant. The costlier real estate is nearer the water, naturally.  

With 60% of residents possessing a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, The Beaches is firmly a white-collar neighbourhood. Most of its professional residents commute to downtown or other parts of the city for work. However, the percentage of people who take transit to work is lower than the city’s average at only about 30%. That means a bit less congestion on transit lines in and out of the neighbourhood compared with the rest of the city.

Local Culture

The Beaches bring together a closer sense of community with big-city living. Although the area does still have the fast pace of life which comes from living in a major metropolitan area it’s not quite as fast or hectic as some of the city’s other popular neighbourhoods. 

It’s not quite a sleepy beachfront community, but it’s as close as you’ll get to that laid back vibe in a city like Toronto. Walkability is a key feature that brings people of all kinds to the Beaches. Everyone from young urbanites to retirees calls the beaches home, though the predominant demographics are working-age people, who make up 44% of the population.

Real Estate In The Beaches

Along the main thoroughfare of Queen St. East. you’ll get the mixed-use housing which is typical of Toronto. 2- or 3-storey buildings with commercial space on the main level and apartments upstairs, entry to which is usually granted by doors in the facade. 

Within the largest residential section of the beaches, the space between Queen St. & Kingston Road and Woodbine and Victoria Park, there are middle-class, single-family homes and semi-detached properties with a few low-rise apartments here and there. 

The housing is one thing about The Beaches residents love. It hasn’t been taken over by towering condos, at least not yet. That lack of serious development is part of what gives the Toronto neighbourhood it’s slow, small-town vibe. It’s a neighbourhood where most homes are single-family detached or semi-detached homes.

There are condo developments along Queen St. East, but they’re low-rise buildings as opposed to full-fledged condo towers. In total only around 7% of the housing available in the neighbourhood is 5+ storey apartment or condo-type accommodation.

Most homes are older (1980 and earlier) and exemplify the classic old Southern Ontario residential vibe. Old-growth trees shade the neighbourhood to give visitors the sense of being in a small town. 

Closer to the water is where you’ll find some of the more upscale properties. Even strolling through this part of the area can be a treat. Many of the homes are a treat to look at if you are a fan of residential architecture. Spending time in the area gives you a sense of why The Beaches is such a highly sought after neighbourhood in the real estate market. 

Interested in real estate in The Beaches? Frank Leo & Associates have all of your real estate needs covered with decades of experience selling & buying properties in the area. Get in touch to find out how we can accommodate your real estate needs. 

Geography

The Beaches is far from plain geographically. It’s most prominent geographic feature is no doubt its namesake beach, but it’s also remarkably hilly. Leading up from the beach toward Queen St. East is relatively flat where the topography suddenly turns into a long steep hill leading all the way up to Kingston Rd to the North. 

A screenshot of the Beaches neighbourhood map.

Another notable geographic feature is the Glenn Stewart Ravine, a short creek that bisects the two halves of the neighbourhood and which runs from Kingston Rd. to Queen St. East. An often overlooked part of the area is the peninsula jutting out into Ashbridge’s Bay. Stand at the very tip to get an unobstructed 180° view of Lake Ontario.

Residential Amenities

Beaches Recreation Centre (Local Community Centre)

The centre offers preschool and school-aged programs as well as fitness for adults as the mainstays of the program schedule. With a pool, weight room, and plenty of intramural activities for adults, the community centre is an often overlooked asset for staying fit despite its convenience for residents of The Beaches. The numerous arts & camps for kids run throughout the year and include everything from arts & crafts, to dance, guitar, and even children’s visual arts. Located on Williamson Rd., the centre is centrally located for residents. 

Libraries

Although it’s the neighbourhood’s only library, the Toronto Public Library Beaches Branch is more than a well-equipped learning resource for the community. In addition to its ample catalogue, meeting rooms, and regular programming for kids, the library building itself is a pleasant place to spend time in for studying or casual reading. 

An image of the Toronto Library Branch of the Beaches, intended to show off some of the residential amenities for a Toronto Neighbourhood profile of the Beaches

Schools & Education

The Beaches has numerous elementary and high schools as well as ample private tutoring services. You’ll find public schools of all sorts as well as Montessori Schools, Bi-Lingual Schools, and Nurseries. Both the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District Schoolboard service this neighbourhood. 

Elementary Schools

Balmy Beach Junior School, 14 Pine Ave, (416) 393-1565

Beaches Alternative School, 50 Swanwick, (416) 393-1451

Kew Beach Junior School, 101 Kippendavie Ave., (416) 393-1810

Kimberley Public School, 50 Swanwick, (416) 393-1450

Norway Public School, 55 Corley, (416) 393-1700

Williamson Road Junior School, 24 Williamson Road, (416) 393-1740

Catholic Schools

St. Denis Catholic School, 67 Balsam Ave. (416) 393-5310

St. John Catholic School, 780 Kingston Rd. (416) 393-5220

Secondary Schools

Malvern Collegiate Institute, 55 Malvern, (416) 393-1480

Neil McNeil High School, 127 Victoria Park Ave. (416) 393-5502

Notre Dame High School, 12 Malvern Ave., (416) 393-5501

Childcare & Private Schools

As a neighbourhood made up largely of families The Beaches has abundant childcare both for after-school care and preschool. Bilingual childcare is also available in the area. 

Parents seeking alternative education for their children will be happy to know the area has several private schools including multiple Montessori Schools. 

Employment

Employment opportunities in The Beaches are limited to working in the service industry at one of the local restaurants or cafes or working retail in one of the stores or local businesses in the area. There is seasonal work available during tourist season as commerce in the area does pick up considerably. 

Some small businesses operate in the neighbourhood and provide professional opportunities but the general lack of office space keeps medium and large businesses from operating in the area. 

Most professionals living in The Beaches commute to work elsewhere, typically in the downtown core. 

Walkability

Running errands and going about daily life tasks is simple in The Beaches if you want to walk. With a walk score of 88 the neighbourhood isn’t only highly accessible by foot but enjoyable as well. Most businesses and amenities are located on Queen St. East and a few scattered businesses on Kingston Rd. as well, especially nearer Victoria Park Ave. 

Unlike some other Toronto neighbourhoods, the old-growth trees and generally lived-in feeling of the community make walking enjoyable even if it is to run errands. 

The only detail which might impede would-be walkers is the hill. Between Queen St. East and Kingston road is a considerable slope that runs from South to North. The steepest section is along the neighbourhoods Eastern border, at Victoria Park Ave. Here, the gradient gets so steep it’s a downright workout just getting up the thing. If you’re riding a bike you will have to dismount unless you use the lowest gear. 

Other than the hill, the rest of the area is highly accessible by bicycle. It’s bike score of 75 means there’s ample cycling infrastructure, even if it can get a bit crowded on the area’s main thoroughfare, with cars vying for space on the road and competing with streetcars. The most enjoyable place to bike is by the water on the Martin Goodman Trail, and if you’re planning on biking downtown – a trip or even commute which is entirely possible – this trail is by far the most convenient way to go. It’s got a dedicated cycling route which connects the downtown core. 

If getting to other parts of the city requires a trip by car or public transport, the TTC’s service to the region makes getting around convenient as well. The easiest options are shooting along the 501 Streetcar to Downtown’s transit up or taking a bus up to the Bloor-Danforth Line. From there, the city’s expansive transit network is at your feet.

Green Space

In addition to having one of the city’s most well-known and frequented parks next to Trinity Bellwoods, The Beaches has much more green space. Wherever you find yourself in this neighbourhood there’s likely to be a park nearby, and where there isn’t you’ll be surrounded by charming old-growth trees that give residential areas that quality of quaint comfort that comes from places that are lived-in and well-loved by their inhabitants.

Dog Parks

With so much green space in the area, the city was considerate enough to pet-owners to allot some of the space to man’s best friend. Nearly every park in the area has a dog run of its own, with the most popular being the off-leash section of Kew Gardens Park.