In 1884, the Metropolitan Street Railway Company established a route travelling up Yonge Street from downtown Toronto. The last stop was at Glengrove Avenue. In 1890, the villages of Davisville, Eglinton and Bedford Park were amalgamated to create the town of North Toronto. The new community quickly evolved from farmers’ fields into a sought-after commuter suburb. In 1912, frustrated by the inferior level of municipal services, North Toronto residents voted to become part of the City of Toronto.
Today, the neighbourhood is still sought-after, but it is no longer the last stop on the streetcar line. Bounded by Lake Ontario in the south, the city has expanded in concentric rings to the west, north and east. The streetcars are gone and Yonge Street is now served by a subway line. The last stop is now Finch, which makes Glengrove and Yonge “mid-town.” What was once a suburb has become an established neighbourhood, prized for its location, architecture and the massive trees that line and shade its streets. Much of the original housing stock has been renovated more than once and many of the original 1940’s bungalows have been demolished to make way for new, multistory townhouses. Real estate costs reflect the high demand. In 2012, house prices ranged from $600,000 to nearly $3,000,000.
The Yonge-Eglinton area has been home to condominium-dwelling young professionals for so long that the intersection is sometimes referred to as “Yonge and Eligible”. 2012 North Toronto condominium prices averaged between $250,000 to over $1,000,000.
North Toronto is bordered by Eglinton Avenue on the south, Blythwood Road on the north, Bayview Avenue on the east and Avenue Road on the west. The Yonge -University subway line runs up Yonge Street. Residents can walk home from the Eglinton stop or catch one of the many buses that fan out from this station. For those who rely on cars, getting around North Toronto is still relatively easy as the streets and lot sizes are wider than those further downtown.
North Toronto elementary schools include John Ross Robertson Junior Public School and John Fisher Junior Public School. Glenview Senior Public School serves Grades 7 and 8. Local public high schools are North Toronto Collegiate Institute, Northern Secondary School and Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute. St. Monica Catholic School teaches Junior Kindergarten to grade 8.
Two private girl’s schools in the neighbourhood are Havergal College, a day and boarding school located at 1451 Avenue Road, and St. Clement’s School, a day school located at 21 St Clements Avenue. The Toronto French School, a private, bilingual day school for boys and girls, is located at 306 Lawrence Avenue East.
North Toronto has a thriving community sports scene. North Toronto Memorial Gardens, located in Eglinton Park, offers indoor and outdoor pools, 2 outdoor skating rinks, and a gymnasium. The North Toronto Soccer Club plays from Eglinton Park, as does the North Toronto Baseball Association. The North Toronto Hockey Association plays out of North Toronto Memorial Arena, located at 174 Orchard View Boulevard. Otter Creek Centre, at 140 Cheritan Avenue, offers 2 outdoor skating rinks. Wanless Park Tennis Club, at 250 Wanless Avenue, has 5 outdoor courts to serve its members.
Nature lovers will enjoy walking the trails of Chatsworth and Blythwood Ravines. Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens is located at 1670 Yonge Street. This beautiful, formal garden has become a “destination site” for bridal party photo shoots. Sherwood Park, at 190 Sherwood Avenue, has a baseball diamond, a dog run, a playground, a splash pad and a wading pool. Winter tobogganing is also popular.
North Toronto is surrounded by shopping districts. The Yonge-Eglinton Centre, at 20 Eglinton Avenue West, has 65 stores over 4 levels and Silver City, a huge movie theatre complex offering a wide variety of films. There is a Cineplex south of Eglinton as well. Yonge Street from Eglinton to Lawrence Avenues has an eclectic mix of clothing boutiques, specialty food shops, banks, dry cleaners and many “destination” restaurants. Specialty retailers have also contributed to making this section of Yonge Street so desirable that parking on weekends can be problematic as the “905’ers” drive into town to shop and eat.
While enviable schools have made North Toronto a magnet for young families, its solid housing stock and prime location recommend it to everyone. It’s no surprise that North Toronto has been a good place to call home since 1884.
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