Selecting a Top 10 is a purely subjective endeavour no matter what the subject matter. The following neighbourhoods made this list for their name recognition and overall desirability. Dozens of additional Toronto neighbourhoods could have easily made this list but the following are a good starting off point.
#1 ROSEDALE – Conveniently located mere minutes from Downtown Toronto this Midtown gem has it all including: grand Victorian and Edwardian houses, beautiful parks and ravines and top ranked schools. There is a plethora of boutique shops and restaurants along Yonge Street. Rosedale’s original landowner Mary Jarvis, coined the name ‘Rosedale” for the profusion of wild roses that proliferated on the hillsides surrounding her home. Chestnut Park is the signature street in the neighbourhood. This winding street has an iconic red brick road that features turn-of-the-century cast iron street lamps with hydro wires buried underground so as not to interfere with the blissful streetscape.
#2 FOREST HILL – This Midtown neighbourhood rivals Rosedale in prestige with bespoke mansions, internationally recognized private schools (Upper Canada College and Bishop Strachan School) and the Belt Line ravine trail. Forest Hill was an independent village prior to its annexation by the City of Toronto in 1967. It still retains that village charm to this day with an intimate shopping village along Spadina Road. Forest Hill’s hilly topography, winding streets and magnificent tree canopy harken back to a time when Forest Hill’s streets were part of a well travelled foot path used by the First Nations people. Forest Hill has numerous public transit options providing convenient access to the downtown core. The Allen Expressway is easily accessed off Eglinton Avenue providing motorists quick passage to the 400 series highways.
#3 BRIDLE PATH – This North York neighbourhood makes the list on panache alone. The extra wide streets created in the early 1900s where intended to accommodate equestrian pursuits hence the name Bridle Path. The bucolic properties, most over an acre in size, feature many of the largest estate homes in Toronto. Many of these homes are gated providing an air of grandeur. Proximity to the exclusive Granite Club, Edwards Gardens and the prestigious Toronto French School and Crescent private schools add to the lustre of this location. Famous celebrities past and present have called the Bridle Path home including: Gordon Lightfoot, Prince, later known as “Artist” and Toronto’s very own Drake.
#4 YORKVILLE – Yorkville began as a village. If you look closely you will still see many vestiges of the original Yorkville including the library and fire station, Jesse Ketchum Public School, and the many Victorian houses that provide the backdrop for the neighbourhood. Yorkville has been a hotspot ever since the 1960s when it was a hippie haven and well known for its music scene. Musicians such as Joni Mitchell performed concerts in local bars. Today Yorkville is still bustling with energy with a variety of annual events and outdoor concerts, Yorkville is brimming with trendy restaurants and bars, many of which include seasonal outdoor patios that are the place to see and be seen. Entertainment and sports celebrities are routinely spotted strolling through Yorkville and shopping at its many luxury boutiques along the stretch of Bloor Street between Yonge Street and Avenue Road known as the “Mink Mile”
#5 THE BEACH “BEACHES” – Ask a local Beaches resident where they live and you are likely to get a variety of answers. Some say “The Beach” and others “the Beaches”. Even a plebiscite vote has not settled the matter. But who really cares when you are living in one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto. The Beaches began as a cottage community in the early 1900s. The houses close to the water are reminders of this era. If you are a person who enjoys living close to water then this is your neighbourhood. There are so many activities along the waterfront from beach volleyball to rowing to cycling, to strolls along the boardwalk. Queen Street is the main arterial road in the neighbourhood. It has a lively atmosphere lined with trendy shops and restaurants. The Beaches is known for its month long Beaches International Jazz Festival held each summer in July.
#6 RONCESVALLES VILLAGE – Locally known as “Roncy” this west-end neighbourhood will instantly charm you with its old fashioned “Main Street” shopping village along Roncesvalles Avenue. The “red rocket” streetcar is part of the colourful streetscape. Roncesvalles hosts many popular annual festivals including the Roncesvalles Polish Festival, a celebration of food, art, music and community. Roncesvalles Villages is known for it’s whimsical Victorian houses with inviting front porches that overlook pretty gardens. Most streets have rear laneways so the front yards have flowers instead of cars. Families love this neighbourhood as it has excellent schools and tons of recreational opportunities with Toronto’s iconic High Park on the west border and the Toronto waterfront within walking distance to the south of this neighbourhood.
#7 NORTH TORONTO – North Toronto began as a village in the late 1800s and later incorporated as a town in 1912. North Toronto quickly rose to prominence due to its convenient location straddling Yonge Street. The moniker North Toronto is somewhat of a misnomer ever since the City of Toronto borders expanded in 1998 with the formation of the “Mega City”. Today, North Toronto is considered prime Uptown Toronto. This family oriented neighbourhood is known for its plethora of parks, highly ranked schools and quaint shopping districts. Public transit is readily accessible. The housing stock features a great variety of styles both old and new. The revitalized Yonge and Eglinton corridor, playfully coined “Young and Eligible”, is brimming with newer high-rise condominium buildings which has brought an influx of new residents to this neighbourhood.
#8 Kingsway Park – Also known as the Kingsway this is the signature neighbourhood among Toronto’s Etobicoke neighbourhoods. Developer Robert Home Smith created Kingsway Park in the 1910’s and 20s with the theme “a little bit of England far from England”. Strict building codes and design guidelines resulted in pretty tree-lined streets with large lots lined by English cottage, Georgian, Colonial, and Tudor-style homes. Situated in Toronto’s Humber River Valley residents enjoy plenty of recreational opportunities including cycling, golf, tennis, kayaking and fishing during the annual Humber River fall salmon run. Bloor Street which forms the southern boundary of the neighbourhood is lined with shops and restaurants and provides easy access to the subway. The public schools in Kingsway Park are highly ranked, attracting many families to the neighbourhood.
#9 TRINITY BELLWOODS – This popular downtown Toronto neighbourhood would have recently been described as “up and coming”. Well that time has come. Trinity Bellwoods has arrived and is now one of Toronto’s most popular neighbourhoods especially with the younger set. The main attraction is the plethora of restaurants and shops along trendy Queen Street and Dundas Street. Especially popular are the destination restaurants and bars along Ossington Avenue. At the heart of the neighbourhood is Trinity Bellwoods Park a popular greenspace with tennis courts, an ice rink and baseball diamond. This park is also home to The Trinity Community Recreation Centre which provides plenty of year round recreational opportunities. Artscape Youngplace on Shaw Street is a community cultural hub devoted to artistic creation and learning.
#10 ANNEX – The Annex is a popular Midtown neighbourhood that in many ways personifies Toronto. Annex residents encompass a variety of backgrounds and cultures that span the entire socio-economic spectrum. The grand Victorian houses that line many of the leafy streets include a wide range of uses from lavish single family homes to multi-plex residences, rooming houses, fraternity houses, bed and breakfast, short-term accommodations, and a variety of business and institutional uses. The University of Toronto is located on the doorstep of the Annex which accounts for the many coffee shops, restaurants and bars along Bloor Street making for a very lively atmosphere. Jane Jacobs the highly respected Canadian-American urbanist, author and activist resided in the Annex with her family from 1971 until her death in 2006. She is credited with stopping the proposed (but never built) Spadina Expressway from running through the Annex and many other Toronto neighbourhoods.