OFF THE BEATEN PATH – A MIX OF GENTRIFICATION & INDUSTRY ON TORONTO’S DOWNTOWN EAST SIDE

One of things I love about TORONTO is its weird mix of neighbourhoods. Walk two blocks south of trendy Riverside and Leslieville and you’re in a land of warehouses, gentrified Victorians, electric wires, cables, a couple of movie studios, billboards and light industry. Much of it is even photogenic.

CARVED FROM BACKYARDS OF NEIGHBOURING HOMES, CRAVEN ROAD’S ‘TINY TOWN’ HOUSES ARE UNIQUE

“As TORONTO continues to be surrounded by more and more condo buildings, it is fun being reminded that somewhere near these gigantic high-rise buildings lives a world of little spaces. Craven Road and the Tiny House Society have managed to prove that a few hundred square feet is more than enough space to live comfortably — even among rooms full of history.” – Spacing Magazine

CRAVEN ROAD is reachable by the Queen Street East and Dundas East streetcar lines. The subway stop is COXWELL.

RONCESVALLES AVENUE (KNOWN LOCALLY AS THE RONCY) IS A WEST END DESTINATION

There’s a genuine community feel about Roncesvalles Avenue and its adjacent streets. Now flourishing after a two year facelift, the west end’s “Main Street” is packed with one-of-a-kind shops, pubs, restaurants and TORONTO’s oldest cinema.

<The community-run REVUE Cinema opened in 1912>

<Coffee and all that Jazz, Howard Street>

Centre of the Polish community, birthplace of the first Canadian Sphynx Cat, High Park next door, The Roncy is reachable by three streetcar lines and the subway.

A Roncesvalles Avenue first – the friendly, hairless Sphynx Cat, suitable for cat lovers with hair allergies. Read the Sphynx Cat story at http://torontoist.com/2013/03/toronto-invents-the-sphynx-cat/

The King, Dundas and College streetcars all pass through the Roncesvalles neighbourhood.  Subway stop – DUNDAS WEST, and walk 3 blocks south.

TORONTO GETS A TASTE OF SIBERIA, AND WE’RE BACK IN THE DEEP FREEZE

SNOW5RINKS3Ice skating at Sherbourne Common, one of 50 outdoor rinks in the City of Toronto.

RINKS4<Willowvale Park at Christie Pits, 5 rinks, 1923, City of Toronto Archives>

TORONTO has the most outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks of any city in the world. There are 4 rinks in the city centre, and 46 in neighbourhoods. Twelve are double pads – one for playing hockey, the other for pleasure-skating. The rest are single pads where hockey and pleasure-skating take turns.

REGENTPARK5<PHOTO ABOVE – the new rink at Regent Park>

ST. JAMES TOWN – 19 HIGH-RISES, 4 LOW-RISES, THE WORLD IN A SQUARE BLOCK

stjamestown9St. James Town is Canada’s largest high-rise community.  About 20,000 people live here – on Wellesley Street East at Parliament.  Built in the 1960’s as a trendy city-within-a-city, it’s now a first stop for newly arrived immigrants.

STJAMESTOWN2STJAMESTOWN5Common languages spoken in St. James Town: Tagalog, Tamil, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, Bengali and Urdu.

STJAMESTOWN1This may be one of TORONTO’s poorer neighbourhoods (average income $23,000), but there’s a brand new community centre, a multi-cultural elementary school, a state-of-the-art public library, and a city-centre location with excellent transit connections.  Panoramic views from these 19-32 storey buildings are among the most spectacular in the city.  <PHOTO BELOW – a car wrapped up for winter, St. James Town>

STJAMESTOWN3