Bloordale Village, West-end Toronto's new artsy scene
For the urbanite that’s looking to live not far from the downtown Toronto core, what a neighbourhood has to offer is becoming more important than ever. In addition to house pricing, it’s often a lifestyle choice that makes the decision for those planning a move. There is a strong difference found in communities, from their character to physical landscape.
As gentrification moves across the city and touches grungy and worn looking areas, a vibe and excitement possesses these hoods as a new energy and development takes hold.
One such up-and-coming area in west-end Toronto is the Bloordale Village hood which is part of the Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson Junction district. Running along Bloor Street from the Lansdowne subway station to the Dufferin station and tucked in the middle of the Junction Triangle, Bloorcourt Village, Wallace Emerson and Brockton Village to the south, this strip of Bloor is becoming known as a hub for an exciting art scene that is taking shape.
Art studios and galleries are being transformed from once unoccupied industrial and retail buildings, into cool and edgy spaces. The Daniel Faria Gallery is now sleek and contemporary, where once being home to an Auto Body Shop. The gallery represents a small number of select reputable artists and with its out-of- the-way location, becomes an even more hip and exciting find. Another hidden gem is the Scrap Metal Gallery, found in an industrial building on a small dead-end street, accessed through an alleyway to the rear. Rare to Toronto, it’s a non-commercial gallery with a private art collection displayed. Bringing international contemporary art to Toronto is Tomorrow Gallery, located in another cool warehouse found off the main beat. The Mercer Union, an artist-run centre that features both national and international artists, moved into this gentrifying hood in back in 2009, from its downtown location. Across the street is found the Toronto Free Gallery, a not-for-profit art space that highlights exhibits which show collaboration between creative groups ranging from visual artists to urban planners. With a Bohemian type allure, these New York “Chelsea” type galleries are adding to this area’s artsy mystique.
With a creative draw to the neighbourhood, shabby chic restaurants and shops are opening their doors to the young group of hipsters that are attracted to this edgy hood. Strolling down the street, it’s enticing to drop into the ice cream parlour, Lansdowne Cone for unique flavours that are offered. Locals can choose from a number of eateries from Zocalo with a casual menu to Bloordale Pantry’s vintage diner. Nothing says hip and urban more than spending a few hours with your friends over a glass of wine and playing board games at the local watering holes Drift and Three Speed. Giving a new meaning to recycling, the new style of décor is incorporating vintage and reclaimed pieces, such as bowling alley wood used as a bar top and pint taps made from an old Electrolux vacuum. The local hipsters moving into the nearby condos, townhouses and houses are looking to compliment their pads with a blend of contemporary and fun furniture. They’re also doing their shopping in the hood and finding treasures in such shops as Style Studio and Pimlico Design Gallery for unique one-of-a-kind pieces.
The landscape of Bloordale Village in places is still a little drab, which has kept the housing prices affordable and yet given that edgy vibe that young hipsters love. It’s a great opportunity for those looking for a neighbourhood that is on the subway line and minutes from downtown Toronto.
Like many of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, Bloordale Village has a yearly street festival called “Big on Bloor Festival”, where during the July weekend it becomes a car-free zone with music, live performances, vendors and dance, celebrating the area’s art culture and community.
The Bloordale Village vibe is full of energy and creativity drawing like-minded people, wanting to work and live in this hood. As this artsy hood grows, new arrivals to the scene will add to its welcoming transformation.