The area known as Roncesvalles Village is found in the west end of Toronto, east of High Park, north of Lake Ontario, Sorauren Avenue to the east and Bloor/Dundas Street West to the north with Queen Street West to the south.
This mature neighbourhood’s long history goes back to when the land to the west of what is now known as Roncesvalles belonged to Sunnyside Farm and was owned by John Howard, one of Canada’s greatest architects.
In 1873 John Howard donated a large chunk of land to the City of Toronto. Later in 1890 he also donated Colborne Lodge and the surrounding land which became one of the greatest gifts to the city – High Park!
Colonel Walter O’Hara owned most of the land east and named it Roncesvalles after the gorge where he fought during the war known as the Battle of the Pyrenees in Spain, 1813. During the 1900’s during the building boom in Toronto, homes began to appear with most of the residents being British. Post WW11 Polish immigrants began to settle in the area and soon churches, banks and businesses began to sprout up with Polish origins. Today their culture is honoured with the yearly “Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival”, which is one of the largest Polish festivals in Canada.
Many of the popular streets found today in Roncesvalles, originally came from personal influences within the area’s history.
Alhambra Avenue: Palace in Spain
Geoffrey Street: Walter O’Hara’s son
Marion Street: Wife
Constance Street: Daughter
Fermanagh Avenue: County of birth in Ireland
Sorauren Avenue: Battle of Sorauren
Ridout Street: Ridout Family which owned property n/w of High Park
Roncesvalles is one of the most lush and green areas of the city. It holds on to its Polish roots with popular deli’s and restaurants, but has also become known as a wonderful neighbourhood now filled with organic eateries, markets, café’s, international cuisine, toy shops and greengrocers on every corner. It’s also popular as an artistic and musical pocket attracting like minded residents. It also is home to well preserved Edwardian and Victorian homes, often grand and well appointed with vintage details.