Well, hello there and thanks for popping by! I’m Cynthia, I sell real estate with the Urbaneer Team and it’s great to e-meet you! I guess first off, growing up in a small, close-knit community really created the person I became, including the desire to establish myself, my family and my growing real estate business in similarly quaint and friendly neighbourhoods. And, thus, the Toronto West End villages drew us in—hook, line and Swansea!
I won’t lie; it’s everything to have top-notch amenities within walking distance of our home. (Oh – keep an eye out for my next post discussing fave local self-care estatblishments!) But, as a parent, I’m particularly grateful to have so many great physical activities and rec option close by, pursuits that the whole family can get involved in—hockey, tennis, skating, rollerblading, sliding, soccer, bocce, baseball, you name it! And many of those activities are all happening in the heart and hub of Swansea: Rennie Park. If you’ve never been to this lovely oasis… well, this blog’s for you! And if you have enjoyed this beloved space, be sure to add your favourite memories in the comments below – or on the Urbaneer Facbook!
This summer, news about the reopening phases in Ontario tended to focus on small businesses, restaurants, personal services, and the like—and for great reason; we all benefit from supporting local business. In Swansea – my home for the past decade or so – we rely on the shops of Bloor West Village for everything from daily necessities, pampering and primping (also VERY necessary) to finding one-of-a-kind gifts.
So when patio life finally returned to Bloor West earlier this summer, it was a sight for sore eyes and a blessing. Walking past dining establishments such as Queen’s Pasta Cafe, Baka Gallery Cafe Zaza and The Swan there was revelry all around: families reconnecting, friends reuniting, spirits high. Now, thanks to the CaféTO program, hungry hipsters have even more choices in outdoor dining: Shakey’s Hacyon, Fishin, and so many more all have pop-up patios, ready to serve from the slow lane along Bloor West.
A Swansea Sanctuary
At any given time, Rennie Park is a beehive of activity. In the winter, it’s ground zero for skating, tobogganing, snowmen, and snow angels. With the arrival of warmer weather, the games change but the vibe remains the same. Towering trees throughout the park provide shady nooks for reading, snuggling, or setting out a picnic blanket. The tree trunks double as goalposts for games of soccer with the kids, while the branches become a magnet for lost frisbees and mismanaged drones (both from our household).
Spring and Summer are my favourite seasons to spend time in Rennie Park!
The soft grass invites new crawlers, those navigating their first steps and the not-so-young attempting to regain flexibility through outdoor yoga classes. Cyclists venturing off training wheels for the first time can find looping paths to challenge their newfound skills. Budding gymnasts have everything they may need to perfect their dismount. Sandcastle and splash pad enthusiasts are free to dig holes and submerge them over and over again.
The wooded areas within Rennie Park are the perfect locations for Hide ‘n Seek, Manhunt, or a great game of Capture the Flag. In the warmer seasons, the outdoor hockey rink and adjacent skating loop become the place for rollerbladers to perfect their stride or skateboarders to practice sweet jumps.
And, finally, the huge gazebo and picnic tables provide ample space for the long-awaited multi-generational breaking of bread, all while recognizing local health guidelines, of course.
To my mind, one of the prized gems of the area around Rennie Park meanders down a leafy path towards the ravines and waters of Catfish Pond. In the thick of spring and summer, the dense foliage around the pond blocks out the sounds of urban life. Instead, it’s the music of croaking, buzzing, fish splashing, wings flapping, and the quiet hum of nature prevailing. There are paths to walk, ride or run, wooden bridges to cross and fallen logs to navigate—there are even vines to swing on, should the Tarzan mood strike.
Fun fact: in recent years, Catfish Pond has made local news during not one, but two missing animal escapades. In 2016, a pair of capybaras, affectionately dubbed Bonnie and Clyde, escaped the nearby High Park Zoo and were on the loose for almost a month. There were reported sightings at Catfish Pond and the pair were eventually captured at Grenadier Pond, just across Ellis Avenue.
Two years prior, a caiman was spotted in Catfish Pond itself. This small, alligator-like reptile was likely released into the wild by a misguided pet owner (some people, right?) and drew quite the crowd during its brief vacation. The zookeepers who caught the caiman described the rescue effort as, “squishy, wet, a little stinky.”
Catfish Pond is like a throwback to my own childhood, a setting right out of the past. Here, the children easily shake off their need for constant stimulation and embark on a patient search for tadpoles, frogs, and snakes. Inevitably, some sort of harmless adventure happens, from scraping a knee to losing a running shoe in the mud. It’s a wonderful backdrop to create childhood memories. It’s also just one of the many quaint and quirky discoveries to be found when you live in a little village in the middle of a big city. Of course, your children are likely to return from Catfish Pond squishy, wet, and a little stinky themselves, but it’s all part of the fun!
Even as Autumn sets in, the park is still bustling with activity; around here, residents are determined to make the most of the seasons, whatever the weather! Just this week, there were neighbours walking dogs, quiet chats on benches, games of hide-and-seek, children tossing leaves (including my own!), pick-up sports, a picnic or two, and other after-school games and congregations.
Here I am on the weekend, all ready for an afternoon of Tennis!!
This beloved park offers us the opportunity to be present with neighbours, even from afar. And my family is grateful for it. For more my story on how the community uses the park in the Winter, read my post from February, entitled, Rennie Park: A Vital Lockdown Playground!
It’s a great example of how the amenities woven into the urban fabric of Toronto’s city neighbourhoods contribute to one’s quality of life as much as the merits of one’s home.
Thanks for reading!
Wouldn’t it be lovely to have Rennie as your neighbourhood park – just as Cynthia does? Here’s our fab new listing in sweet Swansea that we think everyone should see; its a tremendous opportunity! This bespoke semi-detached dwelling – originally constructed in 1900 – has been substantially transformed over the decades into a charming residence that marries modern conveniences with unique features. Immaculately maintained, with several recent major building component upgrades, this sun-drenched Durie Street dwelling is well-suited to today’s contemporary urban living.
Featuring an extremely adaptable space plan, this property is ideal for those seeking a dedicated family space on the Main & Upper Levels, while the Lower Level with its private street entrance offers the flexibility of being a terrific Work-From-Home Office, a nanny suite, or accommodations for an aging parent or your moody teen!
We call it, A Sun-Soaked Swell Dwell In Swansea – NOW SOLD!
And here’s A Vintage Bungalow Perched On The Slopes Of Morningside Avenue, that we sold during the summer!! It’s just east of South Kingsway where Morningside Avenue rises over the Waller Avenue ravine. This charming 2bed 1930s bungalow boasts a generous 34.5 x 120 foot lot and offers tremendous opportunity and infinite possibilities! Congrats to the new owners!
Now more than ever, it is essential to plan a well-researched, data-driven, tactical strategy if you are in the market for a new home. Especially in changing times, when the pandemic has prompted many to shift their focus and objectives. Have yours changed? Please know The Urbaneer team is here to help!
May we be of assistance to you, or someone you love?
The Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000
– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –
*Did you know we were recently listed as one of The Top 25 Toronto Real Estate Agents To Follow On Twitter! – The Top 50 Blogs On Toronto – and The Top 100 Real Estate Blogs In Canada? Consider signing up in the box below to receive our FREE monthly e-newsletter on housing, culture, and design including our love for unique urban homes and other Toronto real estate!
*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve’s University Student Mentorship site called Houseporn.ca which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, products, and real estate in Canada!