Junction/High Park/Bloor West/Swansea See All Neighbourhoods
Neighbourhoods are like living, breathing entities that gather energy and evolve over time, identifying and solidifying characteristics. This is how neighbourhoods create environments that are distinct, both geographically and socially. It is also in this movement that neighbourhoods ride that cusp of change, offering opportunity for those ‘in the know’ to get involved.
This easily describes the areas of the Junction, High Park/Bloor West and Swansea; all are undeniably desirable in their own respective ways. They offer a juxtaposition of living ideals, with a staid, established family-friendly vibe, placed against a curiosity of what is to come.
The Junction is a pocket of the city where the past is melding into a stylish future, as rough edges get softened into something more palatable and highly sought-after. Gentrification is at work full speed, with older storefronts being replaced with boutiques and unique eateries, each celebrating and supporting their own individual stamp that they contribute to the overall patchwork of the neighbourhood.
Wrapped by a busy rail corridor arcing around it to the north and east, tony High Park to the west and Bloor Street to the south, this neighbourhood is named after the junction of four significant railway lines. Originally known as The Village of West Toronto when it was founded in 1884 at the intersection of Dundas and Keele Streets, this area evolved as a working class manufacturing community consisting of foundries, mills, meat processing factories, and furnishing companies, including the Heintzman Piano Company. The abundance of work and newer housing attracted the Irish Catholics, many of whom moved from the poor, crowded tenement housing in areas of the city such as Cabbagetown and Brockton Village during the 1880s. They were followed by waves of working-class English labourers from Birmingham and Manchester in the early 1900s, and then Italians, Poles, Macedonians and Croatian immigrants as our city (and country) boomed.
Today, demographically, the Junction is a happy mish-mash of various generations and groups, blending experience, roots and unique but similar visions for the future of the neighbourhood. The housing stock expresses character vintage architecture with grass-roots grit – the impetus of change for the ‘up-and-coming’. Moreover, a marriage of the old and new is evident, with new condo developments interspersed with merchant class housing .
The Junction is home to various unique retailers, shops, galleries, and artisan butchers and bakers. Many of the eateries express a creative sentiment, where diners can expect to consume food, libations and each other’s company, all the while admiring artwork on the walls by local artists. It is interesting to note that many of the businesses that currently reside in the “new-and-improved” Junction have materialized in reaction to the influx of new residents; by meeting the needs – both pragmatic and indulgent – of the community, they have cemented their place in the neighbourhood.
Here’s our flavour video on The Junction
Moving south to High Park/Bloor West and Swansea, there is clear evidence of why we still constantly hear the real estate mantra of “location, location, location”; it is the single most influential factor in preserving and growing the value of your home. Specifically, this translates into proximity to amenities, green space and public transport.
The High Park/Bloor West neighbourhood certainly embraces this mantra, as it includes the rolling, expansive green space of High Park (the largest in the city at 400 acres) as an anchor. Leisure opportunities abound, and the special kind of calm that emanates from such ample green space is a unique quality that isn’t always easy to find downtown! When you hit High Park, plan to spend the day, visiting the zoo, picnic areas, the waterfront, restaurants, theatre or playgrounds. And just to the west are the shopping amenities of Bloor West Village, which have everything you need to engage and support family life.
The housing stock of High Park/Bloor West invites a pleasant mixture of residents, with single family dwellings – of particular interest to families – interspersed with well-maintained rental units that draw singles, young professionals and couples.
Swansea, bordered by the Humber River to the west, on the north by Bloor Street, on the east by High Park, and Lake Ontario to the south, appeals to young families. Its idyllic wide tree-lined streets, ravines, and natural environment are a rare respite in such an urban locale. The housing stock is comprised of higher-end single detached, semis and bungalows.
Of interest as well is Rennie Park, with its tennis courts, skating rink and Swansea Recreational Centre, where you can bring the kids for swimming lessons, enjoy a workout, or learn a new skill yourself. And don’t forget Bloor West Village, which offers convenient and interesting shopping and dining, with a number of authentically European bakeries and delis.
Additional amenities that contribute to the quality of Swansea and High Park/Bloor West’s AAA location include a number of libraries and a good representation from reputable schools across the various school boards, including, Humberside Collegiate, Garden Avenue Junior Public School, Howard Junior Public School Swansea Junior and Senior Public School. For those seeking alternatives to the traditional boards, there is also a number of private schools within the district as well, including two Montessori schools and High Park Day School.
This area also provides quick access to the Queensway and Gardiner Expressway to the south, which will be appealing to commuters.
If leading items on your wish list include superior green space or a creative, funky environment that provides opportunity for change and growth, then these may be the neighbourhoods for you!