High Park is one of Toronto’s largest parklands and the name itself, defines its namesake community found in the city’s west-end.
The boundaries of the High Park neighbourhood that surround the park stretch irregularly from Runnymede Road to the west along Bloor Street, north to Humberside Avenue, reaching southeast along Parkside Drive to Roncesvalles.
This sought-after leafy urban neighbourhood seems to attract both professional and artistic types of residents ranging from painters, designers, writers, architects, professors, and performers to those in medicine and finance. The surrounding schools are excellent and are an important element in the parent’s choice of location.
The pulse of the neighbourhood is the park itself. Spanning 400 acres of hilly forests and natural vegetation, the entire park is like a mystery just waiting to be discovered. As you meander through the park, you loose yourself amongst the surrounding landscape and quiet, almost forgetting that you’re in urban Toronto with the vibrant city just outside the park’s gates.
Local residents stroll, run, bike and blade through its entrances daily, for its ever-changing scenery and activities. Groomed ornamental gardens and springtime cherry blossoms attract large groups of admiring visitors. Sporting enthusiasts enjoy the challenge offered by the hilly terrain and winding paths and trails that run throughout the park and along the western edge of Grenadier Pond.
High Park’s Zoo is tucked away and sits surrounded by a canopy of trees and hills. Steps away in the Jamie Bell playground area, is the newly re-built whimsical children’s castle. It’s a magical area for children of all ages! Over 100 volunteers joined together, along with the help of popular television personality Mike Holmes, to show how community spirit worked within a city, to rebuild the playground structure after a fire had destroyed it.
The Grenadier Café is a popular spot with an outdoor patio area, that’s great to hangout in during the warmer weather. Northeast of the café are the High Park allotment gardens for the urban green thumbs and Farmer wannabes. Between the café and the zoo is found the off-leash area for doggies. Dog walkers and owners love this area!
Summertime in High Park brings the long-standing Shakespearean play production, called "Dream in High Park". It’s performed in the Amphitheatre, with the audience waiting until dusk, with blankets and picnic baskets ready for the magic to begin under the stars.
The soccer fields, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, pool and ice-rink offer choices of organized and casual sports for the local community to participate in. High Park T-Ball, High Park Baseball and High Park FC are some of the local leagues that the children join.
Automobiles can enter the park, but the preferred mode of transportation seems to by foot or bike. From spring to fall, the little red trackless train tours the park every 30 minutes, for those with tired feet. Hop aboard and enjoy the scenery!
“High Park” in Toronto is akin to New York City’s Central Park!
Just south of the park is Lake Ontario with the Martin Goodman trails that stretches from the Eastern to Western Beaches. The lakefront is a huge urban draw for those wanting to participate in a number of water activities being offered from sailing, dragon boating, canoeing, kayaking to rowing.
In addition to the proximity of the park, there are a number of reasons that residents choose to live in the picturesque High Park neighbourhood with its unique homes.
This west-end location is prime Toronto real estate, with easy subway access to the downtown core within minutes. Many local residents actually choose public transportation and leave their cars at home.
Not a cookie-cutter type of hood, the High Park area offers the ageless beauty of century homes and houses with a range of architectural styles and types including detached, semis and attached. The larger properties surround the park both north and south of Bloor Street. They become smaller as you go further north. They vary is style from two storey homes to three, with the semis and attached, quite spacious.
Lining the leafy winding streets, are found examples of the larger vintage mansions as well as Victorians, Edwardians, Craftsman and Tudors. These houses were originally built in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s with handsome features that are coveted from that era and going forward, marry well with the flow and function of today’s modern updates. The timeless craftsmanship and character of high ceilings, original turrets, large open verandas, exposed brick, stained glass, ceiling medallions, oak baseboards, trim and flooring are being combined with modern technology and design to create the masterpieces that are being found in the High Park area. Most of these generous sized properties have solid good bones and are being lovingly restored rather than demolished. The basements were originally unfinished and sometimes low, but over time are also being renovated, adding more height and finish. More homes are also seeing family room additions being added for additional main floor living space to suit modern lifestyles. Many of the houses in the area have deep lots, with garages in the rear that are often used for added storage.
These two and three storey High Park properties are appealing to families and singles alike, which are incorporating the extra space for live-in nannies, extended family and home offices.
Parking in the High Park neighbourhood is often on-street with permits. There is some parking via front yard, mutual and laneways with a few rare and priceless private driveways.
For those singles and families who love the High Park neighbourhood, but feel a house is not for them, there are a number of Condo, Loft and Townhouse developments in the area to choose from. The older buildings such as those at 50, 80 & 100 Quebec Avenue offer more in the way of interior space with unusually large balconies & terraces. Newer built condos feature modern bells & whistles along with some wow factors in such buildings as 20 Gothic Ave, 383 Ellis Park Rd. which borders the park, churches converted into lofts such as 70 High Park Ave, Abby Lofts, Victoria Lofts, Park Lofts, heritage estate conversions on Gothic and commercial building conversions at St. Johns Place & Medland Lofts. A Daniel’s pre-construction project named High Park Condominiums is being built on Bloor Street across from the park. The High Park, is another pre-construction project, by award-winning Quadrangle Architects with interior designs by Cecconi Simone.
Another appeal for those deciding to call “High Park” their home is having three outstanding and diverse shopping districts surrounding their neighbourhood.
Strolling along Bloor Street and you’re in the Bloor West Village with its delightful array of bakeries, cafes, deli’s, restaurants and boutiques. Neighourhood favorourites include the Coffee Tree with its freshly roasted beans, dining at Dr.Generosity, chic fashion at Trove, gourmet foods at Max's Market along with fruit and vegetable markets lining the street, under market umbrellas with flowers displayed in their containers.
North of the High Park neighbourhood is found the hip and organic hood called The Junction. It’s becoming known as one of Toronto’s best design areas in the city, with cool and eclectic shops that carry salvaged home furnishings and unique design pieces. The hood's vibe is felt in such haunts as Crema Coffee, which is a coffee lover's haven, Mjolk with minimalist Scandinavian & Japanese home designs, Smash, the eclectic store for industrial salvalged pieces and Metropolis Living with ultra cool reinvented industrial objects. Antiques, art galleries, organic restaurants, grocer, bars, video, craft market, alternative health practitioners, Pilates & Yoga studios together make for a really great hood for shopping and living.
Just east of High Park, running north and south of Roncesvalles is found the “Little Poland” Roncy Village hood. This vibrant neighbourhood is becoming known as an area of new and exciting eateries with some of the best food in the city. Hopgood's Foodliner carries comfort food found in a playful menu, resto-bar The Ace and Cherry Bomb Coffee where friendly baristas whip up custom-roasted blends of coffee. As you stroll down the street you feel the old-world ambiance and pulse of the neighbourhood with its markets, bistros, cafes, flower shops, outdoor patios and delicatessens. The landmark Revue Cinema, on Roncesvalles Avenue is a community run not-for-profit theatre. Here you'll find special events such as epicure-themed movie nights hosted by local chefs!
Art and music are an important part of the High Park area flavour and include such events as The Bloor West Village Art Tour, Junction Arts Festival, Queen West Art Crawl, Roncy Rocks and Junction Music Festival.
“The first time that I visited High Park, many years ago, I became so mesmerized with the surrounding greenery and magic of the park, that I made the decision to move to Toronto’s west-end. I think that many people have felt this way, after visiting High Park!”