“Eastward of Spadina House, on the same elevation of land, was Davenport, the picturesque and chateau-like home of Col. Wells… The view of the Lake and intervening forest, as seen from Davenport and Spadina, before the cultivation of the alluvial plain below, was always fine."
- Toronto of Old, by Henry Scadding, 1911
If one is fortunate enough to be building a country estate, one naturally selects the land that will command the most spectacular views. For wealthy Torontonians during the mid to late 1800’s, the location of choice was the rise going up present-day Avenue Road to St. Clair Avenue. South Hill, as it was called, boasted a string of mansions whose titles are now familiar as street names: Oaklands, Spadina, Davenport, Glenedyth, Benvenuto, and Rathnelly.
South Hill Houses
South Hill is bordered by St. Clair Avenue West, Avenue Road and Spadina Avenue. The railway tracks make up its southern edge. Casa Loma, Spadina House and Oaklands still stand, but the other great estates have now been replaced by detached and semi-detached homes built between 1890 and 1920. Lot sizes range from 16 feet to over 100 feet. The area is still largely composed of original homes, many of which have been renovated several times over. There have been many new houses built on the original lots, most of which reflect the Victorian-Edwardian spirit of their neighbours. In 2015, the average price of a single family home was $2 million, within a range of up to $5.5 million. Condominiums can be found along the edge of the neighbourhood. Condo prices in 2015 ranged from over $200,000 to above $3 million. The average sale price was around $800,000.
While the woods that once covered the area are gone, there is still plenty of green space. Sir Winston Churchill Park’s 8.6 hectares contain a running track, a playground, a fenced dog run and a private tennis club. The park connects to the Cedarvale Ravine to the north and several smaller parks to the south.
A big box grocery store is located on St. Clair Avenue West just east of Bathurst Street. Yonge and St. Clair is also a shopping hub. Venture several blocks north of St. Clair Avenue West along Spadina Road and you will find yourself in Forest Hill Village. This neighbourhood collection of stores and restaurants feels very much like the upmarket historic centre of most any prosperous small town in North America and contributes to the ongoing attraction of South Hill as a place to live.