Which is the best neighbourhood in Toronto? With all its great features, High Park is high up on the list! Pun intended.
In the early 1870s, a British immigrant named John Howard, Toronto’s first-ever City Engineer, donated his extensive west-end estate to the City. With Howard’s substantial bequest came one condition: upon his death, the donated land and the 45 remaining acres surrounding his residence could only be used from then on as a public park. What a way to secure Toronto a beautiful outdoor haven for centuries following!
Nearly 150 years later, Colborne Lodge as Howard’s house is known, still stands near the southern edge of High Park. The park is indisputably one of Toronto’s most generous green spaces, and an exceptional eastern gateway to the lively residential and commercial districts of Bloor West Village, Roncesvalles, and the Junction Gardens. Great libraries and sought-after public and private schools are other features of High Park that make the area a good choice for young families looking to take root and grow.
Whereabouts & What to Expect
The High Park neighbourhood encompasses the area from Dundas St West to the north, the Lakeshore to the south, and from Runnymede Road to the west, to Roncesvalles Avenue to the east. Located between Toronto’s Keele and Jane subway stations, High Park is home to a diverse array of residents: families and young professionals, day hikers and dog-walkers, homeowners of grand abodes and thrifty renters seeking an affordable slice of the city. Throughout the neighbourhood, picturesque residential streets feature a gentler version of the topography of the park for which the area is named- hills, valleys and knolls are literally the ground on which stand equally impressive homes. Most of these were built between the 1880s and 1920s, and are mainly two and three storey detached brick, embodying elements of Victorian, Edwardian, and Tudor architectural styles. A small number of homes have been partitioned into rental units, and others were built more modestly or as duplexes from the start, so the demographic makeup is predictably varied as residents vary in background and occupation. Diversity and a sense of natural spontaneity are a hallmark of the area, with a number of languages in addition to English being spoken, including Eastern European and Aboriginal dialects.
Though lots tend to be small, the houses are vast and roomy, and those near the subway line often sell in the upper six figures or higher. However in addition to the size and quality of the builds, exceptional architectural details including stained glass windows, rich wood trims, original hardwood floors and fireplaces, help to justify the price point. Sightlines of High Park are plentiful from the many affordable condo buildings in the High Park neighbourhood. These are located on High Park, Gothic and Quebec Avenues near Bloor St, and some buildings even offer clear views of Lake Ontario.
Rich in Natural Beauty
The lovely residences in High Park are but a taste of what the area offers. Most apparent is the adjacent park itself, with 399 acres that are a dream for any nature-lover. The park is home to cultivated forest, canopied walking, hiking and cycling trails, ornate gardens, picnic spaces, playgrounds, tennis courts, a free outdoor zoo, and even a pond- Grenadier that is, a perfect spot for fishing or relaxing near water’s edge. One of the park's major claims to fame is the cherry blossom trees that flourish for a few weeks in spring. The proximity of High Park to the waterfront is another highlight- along the shores of the lake are marinas, rowing clubs and a beach at Sunnyside Park. The Martin Goodman trail is perfect for recreational pursuits, whether you like gearing up with wheels or strapping on your running shoes. The trail extends eastward along the shoreline towards the Harbourfront, and on towards The Beaches.
Getting Around & Area Amenities
Ease of access to the rest of Toronto and the wider GTA is another plus. The downtown core can be reached via Lakeshore Blvd or the Bloor subway and various streetcar routes, and the rest of the GTA can be accessed via the nearby Gardiner Expressway; the 401 via Keele St.
Nearby, eco-minded Bloor West Village, Roncesvalles Avenue and the Junction Gardens along Dundas Street West, are thriving commercial strips, but luckily well enough away from downtown to be generally free of packed crowds. Akin to main streets in small towns, these community spaces offer many great cafes, European bakeries, delicatessens, specialty food shops, pubs and restaurants, professional services, and utterly charming streetscapes that make a meandering walk or purposeful trip a real pleasure to behold.
This independent record store, gallery and cafe at Bloor and Indian is a collector`s dream. Whether you're into records, art or good away-from-home working spaces, Cabin Fever easily caters to all. A selection of regular, gluten free and vegan baked goods further entice.
Every neighbourhood needs a local pub with a great atmosphere, and food. The Yellow Griffin offers both, with over 35 burgers to choose from and a casual vibe (along with a pool table) that is the perfect after-work spot to relax over a few drinks.
Bread and Roses
A bakery with an easygoing vibe, Bread and Roses serves up delicious baked goods including cookies, cinnamon buns and of course bread which can make its way into a freshly-made sandwich if you so choose. The cookies especially, are a knockout.
Real Estate Overview: 2014 Average Second Quarter Prices*
All Homes: $772,037
Condo Townhouse: $456,000
Condo Apartment: $412,000
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