FOREST HILL, ONE OF TORONTO’S WEALTHIEST NEIGHBOURHOODS, LIVES UP TO ITS NAME

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Once-upon-a-time FOREST HILL was a separate village, just north of downtown TORONTO. Amalgamated into the city in 1967, the neighbourhood is heavily treed and its undulating topography includes several modest hills and a nearby ravine. The village centre is nothing special, although excellent coffee and good food is on offer, but the surrounding streets are lined with mature trees and stolid mansions.

foresthill3 foresthill7Statistics Canada pegs the average Forest Hill income at $102,000 per annum, compared with $41,000 in TORONTO’s Census Metropolitan Area.

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Notable Forest Hill institutions: Upper Canada College, Bishop Strachan School, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church <INTERIOR PHOTO ABOVE>, St. Michael’s College School, and Grace Church-on-the-Hill.

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ONLY 2 BLOCKS LONG, CHARLES ST. E. IS NOW A HAPPENING PLACE FOR APARTMENT DWELLERS

CHARLES1Charles Street East has been a major downtown construction site for at least the last five years. And it’s still not finished. Construction cranes are working non-stop around Victorian-era brick houses and a few of TORONTO’s remaining low-rise apartment buildings.

CHARLES8CHARLES7The Charles Street neighbourhood is close to the subway, theatres, a multitude of restaurants, the University of Toronto, and the shops of Bloor Street West. Bring money if you plan to live here.

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WYCHWOOD PARK, CA1870, A FORMER ARTISTS ENCLAVE, IS HIDDEN IN THE HEART OF THE CITY

WYCHWOODPARK1WYCHWOOD PARK was founded as a private artists colony by painter Marmaduke Matthews (his Autumn Still Life/1888′ below) and businessman Alexander Jardin.  It exists intact to this day.  Mr. Matthews’ home, Wychwood, #6 (BELOW), still stands, beside another 60 houses built around a small pond, which is actually a dammed up Taddle Creek.  http://www.lostrivers.ca

wychwoodpark101wychwoodpark71wychwoodpark4wychwoodpark5WYCHWOOD PARK is our only neighbourhood with a warning sign for quicksand and one of the few still lit by TORONTO’S old streetlamps.  Some of the houses have spectacular downtown views.  The village combines rusticity and exclusivity; house prices here run into the millions.  Adjacent are the Wychwood Car Barns.

wychwoodpark8 Getting to WYCHWOOD PARK – take the St. Clair streetcar #512 to Wychwood, and then walk south.

TORONTO’S LIBERTY VILLAGE – A ‘TAMED AND GENTRIFIED’ POST-INDUSTRIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD

LIBERTY19LIBERTY VILLAGE (King Street West to the Gardiner Expressway: Strachan Avenue to Dufferin Street) is a neighbourhood with a checkered past.  Formerly the home of Toronto’s Central Prison and the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women (both now demolished), it was a sprawling campus of heavy industry and, in 1914, a holding area for World War I bomb casings.  <PHOTOS – 1) Toronto Central Prison, 1877  2)  Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women, demolished 1969  3)  Surviving Roman Catholic Chapel, Central Prison  4)  Surviving Superintendent’s house, Mercer Reformatory 5) Piles of World War I bomb casings, City of Toronto Archives>

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EVER BEEN TO THE JUNCTION? TAKE THE #40 BUS FROM DUNDAS WEST SUBWAY STATION

JUNCTION12It’s amazing what can happen in three years. Back in 2011 the New York Times described THE JUNCTION as“Skid Row to Hip in Toronto.  The young and artsy are taking advantage of still-cheap real estate to tiptoe into the Junction’s empty storefronts and low slung houses.”

These days THE JUNCTION has become a ‘destination neighbourhood’, attracting folks from all parts of the city, especially on weekends. There are still plenty of family-run shops, but now upscale restaurants, sidewalk cafes, galleries, antique and clothing stores, condos, and a flea market have moved in. More are on the way, and inevitably real estate is becoming more expensive.

It’s easy to spend a day in THE JUNCTION. Word of advice: use public transport to get there, especially on weekends. From DUNDAS WEST subway station take the #40 bus to Dundas Street West. It’s a 10 minute ride.

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Named for a mishmash of railroad tracks, bridges and several major roads, the JUNCTION today is home to old books and record stores; architectural/industrial artifact emporia; a Buddhist temple; design and digital video companies; vegan and non-vegan restaurants; the West Toronto Railpath, etc. etc.  It’s that kind of place.