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toronto history
toronto neighborhoods

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toronto history
toronto neighborhoods

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toronto history
toronto neighborhoods

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Toronto Neighborhoods

Several hundred years ago, the Huron Indians described "Toronto" as the meeting place, and their take on it is still accurate.

Toronto has developed into one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and this is reflected in a wonderful mosaic of distinctive neighbourhoods. Some can be described as "ethnic", while others reflect a particular lifestyle. Some cultural groups collect in particular areas, while other groups are scattered throughout the city.

In many cases, an area's personality will change rapidly over the years, transformed by its new residents. This is a testament to Toronto's amazing ability to adapt and flourish, while remaining essentially "Canadian" – civil, tolerant, safe and friendly.


Financial District & Underground City: Towering glass, concrete and steel monoliths -- a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Toronto's Financial District is actually quite compact and walkable, even in inclement weather. That's due to the "underground city" -- 11 kms (6 miles) of interconnecting passageways under the streets that feature more than 1,200 retail stores and services. WHERE: Look for "PATH" signage for entry to the subterranean walkway Bounded by Queen St, Front St, Yonge St. and Avenue Rd. TTC: King, Union, or St. Andrew Stations

Chinatown: Home to ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and elsewhere. With a wealth of oriental shops and outdoor fruit markets, it's known for a vast selection of authentic Chinese restaurants. WHERE: Corner of Spadina and Dundas St. West. TTC: St. Patrick Station, then streetcar westbound

Toronto's second Chinatown offers at least one Thai grocery store. WHERE: Gerrard & Broadview TTC: Broadview Station, then streetcar southbound

Kensington market: A visit to Kensington is a whirlwind trip around the world! Known as the Jewish Market during the 1920s, today you can sense the city's rich, multicultural mix, obvious in the shops packed with goods from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America and Asia. It's also a treasure trove of vintage and second hand clothing shops, restaurants and cafés. Between Dundas and College, west of Spadina Ave. TTC: closest subway, Queen's Park Station, then streetcar westbound

Fashion District: Toronto's garment district has terrific bargains on local fashions, fabric, leathers and furs. WHERE: Spadina Avenue, between Dundas and Front St. TTC: King Station, then streetcar westbound

St. Lawrence Market: This is the site of the city's original market. Popular most of the week, the market comes to life on Saturdays. Farmers, food and flowers -- it's a winning combination! Numerous old warehouses converted into residences, stores, restaurants and pubs also dot this historic area. WHERE: Jarvis and Front St. TTC: closest subway, Union Station, then walk east

Queen St. West: Queen West is one the city's more popular shopping districts featuring trendy restaurants, cutting-edge fashion, galleries, antique shops and dance clubs. A landmark is the City-TV building, a cutting edge tv studio with events that spill out onto the street. WHERE: Queen St. West, between Yonge St. and Bathurst Ave. TTC: Queen Station, then streetcar westbound

Harbourfront: Before 1972, this was a wasteland of warehouses. Now it's a residential and cultural neighbourhood popular year-round. Highlights include specialty shops at Queens Quay Terminal, cultural facilities at Harbourfront Centre, a terrific lakeside walking trail, and the Harbourfront Antique Market. Cruises of the harbour and ferry services run from the waterfront as well. WHERE: Queen's Quay, between Bathurst and Jarvis St. TTC: Union Station, then streetcar southbound

Toronto Islands: The three main islands offer a quaint summer amusement park, paddleboats and bikes for rent, in-line skating paths, and grass and beaches for picnics. Best of all, there are no cars! Summer cottages from the 1920's are home for more than 250 families, and feature charming English-style gardens. WHERE: a 10-minute ferry ride from the docks located at the foot of Bay St. TTC: Union Station, then streetcar southbound; transfer to Island Ferries


Bloor/Yorkville: Thirty years ago, flower children; today strictly upper-crust. One of Toronto's more elegant, shopping and dining areas, Yorkville's designer boutiques, antique shops and galleries are absolutely first-class. The area features a warren of small courtyards, alleyways, and a contemporary park. (Make sure you visit the "Rock", a huge piece of granite trucked hundreds of miles from the Canadian Shield!) WHERE: Bounded by Bloor St., Avenue Rd., Davenport Rd. and Yonge St. TTC: Bay Station.

Church & Wellesley: This predominantly gay neighbourhood is host to Canada's largest annual gay and lesbian Gay Pride Celebrations. Find lots of bars, shops and restaurants, along with Buddies and Bad Times gay theatre. WHERE: Area surrounding Church and Wellesley Sts. TTC: Wellesley Station, then walk east .

Cabbagetown: Once a working-class enclave, Cabbagetown is now a gracious neighbourhood of renovated Victorian homes and lovely parks. Highlights include the delightful, turn-of-the-century Riverdale Farm (site of the original Toronto Zoo) and Allan Gardens, with its botanical collection in a beautiful Victorian-style greenhouse. WHERE: East of Parliament St., between Wellesley and Dundas St. East. TTC: College, then streetcar eastbound

Rosedale & Forest Hill: Home to many of Toronto's most established (and monied) citizens, these parklike districts feature winding streets lined with magnificent homes of impregnable solidity, well-tended gardens, and secluded parks. WHERE: Adjacent neighbourhoods; located north of Bloor St., between Yonge St. to the Don River

Little Italy: This lively neighbourhood is the spiritual home of Toronto's Italian & Portuguese communities, which has for the most part migrated further north. It's packed with trattorias, trendy restaurants and cafés, and a few more traditional poolhalls. Little Italy's sidewalks are jammed on weekends, especially in the summer, when all of Toronto, it seems, is sipping espressos on outdoor patios. (see also Corso Italia.) WHERE: College St. between Euclid Ave and Shaw St. TTC: Queen's Park Station, then streetcar westbound


Corso Italia: Known for its fashionable shops that reflect what's hot in Europe. Top-of-the-line Italian fashion shops draw crowds, as do a multitude of cafés and restaurants offering the cuisines of various italian regions. WHERE: St. Clair Avenue, between Landsdowne and Westmount Ave. TTC: St. Clair West, then streetcar westbound

Little Poland: An enclave of Eastern European and Russian residents, this area specializes in traditional cuisine, plus bakeries, cafés, and special events from the "old country". WHERE: Roncesvalles Ave. between King St. and Dundas Street West. TTC: Dundas West Station

Portugal Village: Toronto's large Portuguese community is focused in this neighbourhood, with dozens of bake shops, restaurants, cheese stores, and fish markets, especially along Dundas and College Sts West. The community is also well represented in Kensington Market. WHERE: Area bordered by Trinity Bellwoods Park, College St. West, Spadina Ave and Ossington Ave

Koreatown: Shops stocking exotic herbs, acupuncture centres, and Korean restaurants abound here, although few Koreans actually live in the area. WHERE: Bloor Street West, between Bathurst and Christie St. TTC: Bathurst Station, walk west

Annex: Tree-lined streets, and large victorian homes line the streets around the University of Toronto. Cafes and shops cater to the literary locals. WHERE: Bloor Street West, between Spadina and Bathurst St. North to Dupont, South to Harbord TTC: Spadina Station, walk west


Riverdale aka: Greektown or The Danforth: A large collection of restaurants feature authentic Greek cuisine in this lively area, which also features a fascinating mix of specialty and interior accessory shops. "The Danforth" (its local nickname) is also a night owl's haven with clubs and cafés open til the wee hours. Walk south on Broadview or Logan and discover lovely large parks. A wonderful place to live with parks, transit and shopping close by. WHERE: Danforth Ave., between Broadview and Jones Ave. TTC: Broadview, Chester & Pape Stations

Indian Bazaar: Find Indian-food restaurants, grocers, and shops that specialize in traditional saris and brightly-coloured scarves. Gerrard St, around Coxwell Ave, Greenwood Ave and Main St. TTC: Coxwell Station, then streetcar southbound on Main St.

The Beaches: Antique shops, clapboard cottages and quirky stores and restaurants typify the Beach. The beachside boardwalk is crowded with joggers, dog-walkers and picnickers, and the beach itself is packed in the summer. Home to students, professors and media types, the Beaches has a laid-back attitude unliked anywhere else in town. WHERE: Queen St. East, between Coxwell and Victoria Park Ave. TTC: Queen Station, then streetcar eastbound


North York: This energetic area features its own "downtown" around the Yonge/Sheppard intersection. It's home to fantastic restaurants, a large commercial theatre complex, great shopping, and a sizzling winter carnival. TTC: North York or Sheppard stations

Etobicoke: Pronounced "eh-toe-bi-coh", this area lies between the airport and downtown. Although primarily residential, there are several excellent shopping centres and specialty shops in the neighbourhood.

Scarborough: Situated east of downtown, Scarborough includes the fantastic Scarborough Bluffs, dramatic cliffs rising from Lake Ontario. It also features wonderful hiking through the Rouge River Valley, and the famous Toronto Zoo.

York & East York: are both highly-residential areas easily accessible to the STOTT PILATES studio.


The Greater Toronto Area (or GTA) includes four regions surrounding the city proper. Home to 4.4 million people, it is the economic and cultural engine of Canada. Each of the four regions -- Halton and Peel to the west, York to the North, and Durham to the east -- offer a variety of attractions, pleasant cities, towns and villages, plus wonderful countryside. Here are highlights of each region

Halton: Glen Abbey Golf Club, Canada's most prestigious public course; the beautiful 2,700 acre Royal Botanical Gardens; Springridge Farm, with its seasonal fare, crafts and farm animals; and the Bruce Trail, a spectacular hiking path along the Niagara Escarpment.

Peel: the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga; the rolling Caledon Hills, stop at the Terra Cotta Inn for tea; and the Dixie Outlet Mall.

York Region: Drive to Kleinburg and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, home to the celebrated Group of Seven; historic Unionville, full of quaint little shops; and Lake Simcoe, in the heart of Ontario's cottage country.

Durham: Parkwood Estate & Gardens, a 55-room mansion with breathtaking gardens; Ganaraska Ranch, with horseback riding available through an 11,000-acre forest.

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