When walking down most residential streets in the old City of Toronto, have you noticed the variation in the condition of the houses?
Some are original and somewhat dilapidated; others are upgraded with a distinct cultural stamp; still others are meticulously restored or renovated with a decidedly modern flair. In a century city that has been home to generations of working, merchant and professional classes, as well as a multitude of different cultures, our city’s ‘anything goes’ housing stock reflects the colourful history of how Canada has evolved. In a city where our houses offer telltale signs of the way we’ve once lived, it also offers several clues on the direction we’re going.
Depending on where you live in the City, your neighbourhood may have been, or still is, home to Greek, Italian or Portuguese immigrants. Other pockets reflect the pedigree of Scottish merchants, Irish rogues or the growing riches of Jewish immigrants. Throughout the central core, pockets of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean residents have anchored themselves in nodal concentrations. And it isn’t restricted to only these groups. Toronto is the melting pot for more cultures than any other city in the world, and boasts established roots carved through each individual community niche. All this cultural fusion is evident in the exteriors of the properties of these groups, whether by the presence of distinctive brick arches, fanciful ironwork, lawn decorations or religious iconography.
So, how does all of this fit in with real estate? Depending on whom you are, when it comes time for you to buy a home, you may decide to locate in a neighbourhood that reflects your cultural affiliation, mirrors your economic status, or complements your social world. Certainly when it comes to choosing a residence, it’s not unusual for one to locate in an area that offers the most comfort to lay down roots, and to seek out an area that offers the greatest affinity. After all, don’t we all want to live in a place where we feel that we belong?
But what of these mixed neighbourhoods? Throughout the downtown core, residential pockets that were once the cultural bastions of the Italian, Portuguese or Greek, or were once home to the wealthy merchant class, have evolved into areas that no longer possess a dominant social, economic or cultural identity. Row upon row of homes stand in testament to their ever-changing history; former elegant manors of the well-to-do now are now a hodgepodge of apartments; once working class cottages now pay homage to the Mediterranean villa, and former corner grocery stores are now contemporary loft-like dwellings. What are these neighbourhoods about?
Herein lies an interesting phenomenon. Within these formerly immigrant, inner city neighbourhoods, are pockets of progressive Canadians who choose to reject the sterility of conformist suburbs, and who choose to reject their need to live in a neighbourhood of similarly priced property. Instead these residents choose to live amidst the greatest variety of peoples!
Celebrating the fusion that Toronto represents as a multi-cultural city, the vibrancy and success of these neighbourhoods are a function of all types of people sharing in neighbourhood resources, whether it is the village shopping, the local green space, or the transportation system. With university students, and the elderly of all cultural persuasions, living side by side, blue collar and white collar workers alike taking the same streetcar to work, and first generation Canadian and immigrant children attending the same schools, the integration of these liberated peoples serves as a testament to Canada as a country. One needs look no further than at inner city Toronto neighbourhoods to know this country is doing something special. Just like the unique evolution of our century-homes lining inner city streets so, too, can we see the progressive harmony of Canada’s pioneering spirit.
At urbaneer.com, we specialize in the sale and purchase of Toronto property. Whether you love the Beach or Bloor West, Harbourfront or Hogg’s Hollow, we help Canadians find their perfect homes! With a comprehensive understanding of Toronto’s 42 village neighbourhoods, training in finance, law, construction and design, and over 20 years of real estate experience, we are your pro-urban specialists. Learn more about us on our website urbaneer.com, where you’ll find some of our past newsletters on housing dynamics, our custom housing profile, and great images of current listings. Not online? Just pick up the phone and call us now at 416-322-8000 for an introductory package! All without pressure or hassle!
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Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage