Urban Toronto is a mega city known for its unique neighbourhoods and personalities. West of Yonge Street, Toronto has an ever-changing personality as it bends and twists from one neighbourhood to yet another with historical sites and buildings along the way.
Core of the city's identity is Old City Hall, that's a showplace of history and exquisite craftsmanship. Sunnyside Pavilion another historical building dating back to the 1800's is a landmark along the western waterfront. With its manicured gardens, a boardwalk and an inviting beachfront café, you can sip your beverages while dragon boats, rowers and canoes drift by. This beautiful building is the site of many wedding photo shoots. Nothing is more enjoyable than experiencing your city while strolling along the busy waterfront. Along this part of the city that's by the water, you'll also find a number of facilities for sporting enthusiasts. They include one of the oldest and largest of its type rowing clubs dating back to the late 1800's called the Argonaut Rowing Club with its course running 4,000 meters along the western beaches of Toronto from the west side of Ontario Place to the mouth of the Humber River. Alongside is the Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club, a non-profit and volunteer run club going back to the 1880's. Here you'll find outriggers, sailing, canoeing and dragon boat paddlers. The beautiful and exclusive Boulevard Club sits proudly on the waterfront and is one of the finest exclusive Yachting and sports facilities in Toronto, also proud of its 90 plus year history. The Martin Goodman trail that runs along the waterfront starts from the Western Beaches stretching to the Eastern Beaches. It's a multi-use recreational trail that traverses through a multitude of high developed environments where you'll find people jogging, walking and running against a scenic backdrop of Lake Ontario. Here you can feel the breezes off the lake, watch the sailboats going by, kids playing in the sand and almost forget that you're in the city! Also found in this western part of the city is the famous Exhibition Place, where every year the 18 day fair begins and you can hear "Let's go the to Ex!" It's 192 acres of parkland, gardens and historical buildings.
West Toronto is also home to the city's major museums and galleries. The ROM is the 5th largest museum in North America with over 40 galleries and amazing dinosaur, fossil, African and Near Eastern Art collections. Both The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) revamped by Toronto native architect Frank Gehry and OCAD's (Ontario College of Art & Design) with Will Alsop's unique building design are world recognized and landmarks for this area. In addition to enjoying the art exhibitions and special collections within the Art Gallery of Ontario, one can also visit Jackman Hall, which fosters cinema as art and features art films and documentaries. Cinematheque Ontario moved to the new breathtaking Bell Lightbox complex downtown for all the the film lovers, offering a full range of diverse film, classics and foreign films including the annual Toronto Internation Film Festival also known as "TIFF".
You'll also find Toronto's theatre district, sports arena's, major galleries and great music scenes from classic, blues, jazz to rock found west of Yonge Street.
When you're looking to choose a community that best defines your personality, you first want to explore how these different neighbourhoods feel. Are you looking for a hipster haven, somewhere full of young professionals? Perhaps you feel more at home amongst cultural diversity or hoods with urban families and strollers? Each and every part of Toronto has a different flavour and appeal. Throughout the years, these different hoods have reinvented themselves from the coffeehouse days in Yorkville to today's historic charm meshed with designer boutiques, world-class galleries and upscale restaurants. The Annex is one of the cities most affluent and diverse communities with Edwardian and Victorian mansions making it one of the more expensive neighbourhoods to live in. Chinatown an ethnic enclave is famous for its bustling markets with exotic fruits and vegetables and oodles of great eateries like the Bright Pearl for dim sum and mouth-watering Mother's Dumplings. Kensington Market's labyrinth like streets with the many tiny shops and produce stands almost make you feel like you're in another country. Both Corso Italia and Little Italy are renowned for their trendy European atmosphere with classic Italian café's and outdoor patios lining the street. Another inner city ethnic hood in transition is Little Portugal and (Beaconsfield Village). Once home to Portuguese immigrants now is experiencing urban professionals seeking to buy homes close to the downtown core. The infamous strip on Ossington Avenue between Dundas and Queen Street and by the Gladstone and Drake Hotels are bustling with late night music and hipsters. An area favourite is Pizzeria Libretto. Parks throughout the city are many times the heart of the community, and this is also the case with the hood Dufferin Grove. The 14 acre park is the focal point of the community, and a natural gathering place for the residents. There is great neighbourly camaraderie within the park with potluck dinners and a year-round farmers' market. (One of the best in the city) Brockton Village to the west of this district often draws artist types with its affordable prices. Another reinvented spot is Trinity Bellwoods along Queen St. West and now a hip area with design furniture and clothing shops, galleries and fabulous eateries. Many nights you'll find people lining up outside Terroni's waiting for their famous thin crust pizza. Thriving bohemia is felt in Parkdale with its influx of café's, bars, antique and vintage shops attracting artists and young professionals. Another area attracting artistic types is Roncesvalles Village, popular Polish heritage area famous for its deli's, bakeries, bistros, and restaurants but also boasting other cultural delights. It also has one of the oldest cinema's The Revue and several music lounges and clubs. It's a vibrant hood with olde world charm. Another similar established community that seems to attract artistic types and young professionals is the High Park neighbourhood that surrounds one of the largest parks in Toronto with its mixed recreational and natural elements. Bloor West Village and Swansea Village are both popular with young families and offer wonderful shops, café's, deli's with European flavours, great schools and winding treed streets.
For those looking for larger executive type homes, the exclusive neighbourhoods of Baby Point, Brule/Riverside and The Kingsway offer beautiful landscapes and grounds, some with the best ravine views in Toronto, with coveted Georgian and Tudor styled homes having character and charm unequaled. The little pocket of Sunnylea sits just south of The Kingsway, sharing their fabulous shopping district and offering a treed Muskoka type ambiance with winding streets without sidewalks and tidy bungalows, Tudors and new custom built homes on fabulous lots.
All of these older neighbourhoods within west Toronto offer housing stock that has long been a part of the city, with some going back a hundred years. The history, architecture and character draw buyers to this unique and wonderful style. It's a loving relationship between the neighbourhood amenities and the type of properties offered. There still are choices for those preferring "newer" both with houses and of course condos.
Buying a property is probably the largest investment most of us will make and location is becoming an even larger factor in real estate.
Housing prices grow more varied by locations and what is offered within the neighbourhood. Reinvented hoods are becoming more popular as buyers look for new and exciting urban areas close to the core of the city. Canadians are clearly willing to pay a hefty price for the neighbourhoods they are drawn to. With the onset of a hyper dense metropolis of vertical neighbourhoods full of condos, many young families are wanting to remain within the city and are looking for kid friendly options. Explore the personality of the different neighbourhoods within west Toronto and choose the community that best defines your budget and personality. The west end is my Toronto!
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