North York is one of the cities that in the 1997 City of Toronto Act became a part of the Toronto mega-city. North York has a unique charm being its own brand of multiculuralism. There are many aspects of North York that make up the vast proportion of Toronto living, from its university, historical sites, and various unique neighbourhoods, North York has become a city within a city.
The area of the former city of North York is demographically, ethnically and culturally diverse and can be classified into many areas or districts depending on one's perspective. Some examples appear below but many are largely generalisations that provide an incomplete perspective.
North York has the following districts:
- The Peanut. Don Mills Road, between Sheppard and Finch Ave, this community has a significant public housing population, immigrants and refugees, sole-support families and youth. It has been an area with a notable level of criminal activity.
- York Mills. Yonge St and Leslie St, Lawrence Ave to Highway 401. Home to the famous Bridle Path, lined with multi-million dollar estates and mansions, this area boasts the highest household incomes in Canada. Also home to Glendon College, part of York University.
- Central North York. Yonge St, from Highway 401 to Finch. Rural in character until after World War II, this is the central business and cultural district. Home to a performing arts center, movie theatres, shopping centers and other amenities, the area boasts significant concentration of highrise condo buildings and an impressive skyline.
- Lawrence Manor. Allen Rd to Avenue Rd, Briar Hill Ave to Highway 401. Developed in the 1950s, this is the heart of Jewish Toronto, when many Toronto Jews moved out of the city core. Many orthodox Jews live on the residential streets off Bathurst, which is lined with synagogues, Hebrew schools, bookstores, delis and kosher markets.
- Little Moscow. Bathurst from Sheppard to Steeles and Steeles from Dufferin to Yonge. Known for its Russian populace, with a large Russian Jewish population, one will find various stores with Russian signs. As in its multi-ethnic namesake city, there are Russians, Ukranians, Georgians, and other ethnic groups from the former USSR. It has grown significantly since breakup of the USSR and has recently swollen into Thornhill and Richmond Hill.
- Koreatown North. Yonge St between Churchill Ave and Steeles Ave. Second largest population of Koreans in Toronto next to the downtown Koreatown, it is one of the largest congregation of Koreans outside of their native land. Developed starting in the early 1990's, this new Koreatown has many retail stores, Korean grocery stores (some quite large), karaoke bars (especially active Fridays) and family restaurants catering to younger Koreans and those living in the north part of Toronto. Large numbers of Chinese live here as well. You'll find the Persian Section bleeds into the Korean strip to the south.
- Persian Section. Yonge St between Finch and Steeles. Many Persian grocers and restaurants line this section of Yonge Street, while the residential streets house a large Persian population. Some of the cheapest and best Shish Kebabs, Halva, and Baklava can be purchased here. You'll find the Korean strip bleeds into the Persian Section to the north.
- Downsview. Downsview was originally a farm located in the 1870s near the present-day intersection of Keele Street and Wilson Avenue. It now extends beyond the intersection of Sheppard Avenue and Dufferin Street, in the former City of North York. The area includes several large post-WWII subdivisions. It includes Downsview Airport, the former site of Canadian Forces Base Downsview, recently largely converted into an urban park known as Downsview Park. The airport is still used as a manufacturing and testing facility for Bombardier Aerospace.
- Jane and Finch Corridor. The area is roughly bounded by Highway 400 to the west, Black Creek Ravine to the east, Grandravine Drive to the south, and Shoreham Drive to the north within Downsview. The Jane-Finch community has long been a media darling, with attention focussed on crime and gang activities. While there is little doubt that Jane-Finch has crime, there are other areas of North York and Toronto which have similar challenges. It also has one of the highest proportions of youth, sole-supported families, refugees and immigrants, low-income earners and public housing tenants of any community in Toronto. In January 2009, there was an effort to return to its original community name of University Heights to get rid of its notorious tag.
- Flemingdon Park is bordered on the north by Eglinton Avenue East, on the west by the Don River (west branch), and on the east and south by the Don River (east branch). The 2 branches of the Don join at the neighbourhood’s southwest corner. The south border is technically a parkland access road formerly known as Old Lawrence Avenue. The community derives its name from its original owner, Robert John Fleming, the mayor of Toronto in 1892-1893 and 1896-1897, and the nearby Don River. This is another community with a significant criminal rate as well as highest proportions of immigrant, low income and sole-support families.
With Yonge-University subway line 1, Central North York is easily accessible by transit to and from downtown from Sheppard-Yonge, North York Centre and Finch stations. From York Region, Viva express buses run to the Finch subway station, as do GO commuter buses and a large number of TTC buses. The York Mills and Lawrence stations, also on the line 1, also serve North York, but are south of the North York city centre. (Lawrence Station is actually in Toronto/Midtown but North York is within 2 km east and west of this station.)
Sheppard subway line 4 is entirely within North York. It connects with subway line 1 at Sheppard-Yonge Station and travels east through Bayview, Bessarion, Leslie and Don Mills stations. Bayview Village Mall is next door to Bayview Station, and Fairview Mall is adjacent to Don Mills Station.
Subway line 1 is U-shaped starting and ending in North York and travelling through downtown via Union Station. The west end of line 1 (often called the Spadina line) runs from north to south through Downsview, Wilson, Yorkdale, Lawrence West and Glencairn stations. Some of these stations would be convenient to visit Lawrence Manor while the Downsview station buses would take you to Jane-Finch and York University. Yorkdale Station has a GO bus terminal and a pedestrian link to Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
Other areas of North York are not served by rapid transit (subways). Some areas are well served by bus, with waiting times as little as 5 minutes between buses, while other areas are less well served, resulting in times as long as 20 to 30 minutes between buses, particularly outside rush hours.
- Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr (Bus 100 from either Eglinton Station or Broadview Station). Museum of Islamic art, Iranian (Persian) art and Muslim culture housing collections of Islamic art and heritage, including artefacts from the private collections of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan.
- Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy (One set of lights east of Jane St, on the south side of Steeles Ave andfollow the Village signs. TTC: Bus Steeles 60 West route from Finch Subway Stn (line 1) or Jane 35 route from Jane Subway Stn (line 2). YRT: From the York University Terminal take the Route 10 (Woodbridge) bus or the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue. From the Vaughan Mills terminal take the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue), ☎ +1 416 667-6295. Dates & hours. To visit Black Creek Pioneer Village is to journey back in time to discover life in early Ontario. The Village is an example of a typical crossroads community found in the Toronto area during the 1800s. Here you will do much more than just learn about history. You will taste it, smell it, touch it, hear it and walk through it. As you explore 40 carefully restored heritage homes, shops & gardens, history will come alive as interpreters and artisans in period dress help you discover how settlers lived, worked and played. A good time to visit is weekdays during the autumn as there are comparatively few visitors. Admission prices.
- Dempsey Store (Dempsey Park), 250 Beecroft Rd (Near North York Centre Station on subway line 1). Building interior not open to public. Dempsey Store was a hardware store built in 1860 at the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. The historic store was moved and restored as a historic site further north to Dempsey Park in 1996. Today, the building is used as a centre for autistic children.
- Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Gardens, 777 Lawrence Ave E (South west corner of Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue East, accessible from Eglinton Station, take Lawrence East Bus 54 or 54A), ☎ +1 416 392-8188. Dawn to dusk every day, year round. 35 acres of 20th century naturalistic parkland famous for rhododendrons, seasonal perennials, roses and wildflowers on the uplands.
- Gibson House Museum, 5172 Yonge St (near North York Centre Station on subway line 1; walk around the condominium at the corner of Yonge and Park Home Ave). Built in 1851, Gibson House was the home of Scottish immigrant David Gibson and his family. He was a land surveyor who helped map early Toronto. Wanted by the government for participating in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, Gibson was forced to flee to the United States where he and his family remained for 11 years. On their return to York County, the Gibsons built this beautiful home and once again became active members of their rural community. This elegant farmhouse has a serene Georgian-style exterior, period furnishings in the interior and staff in period costumes.
- Hose tower for North York Fire Department Station 1, Princess Park, 214 Doris Ave (Behind Empress Walk Mall at North York Centre Station). The fire hall is gone, but its hose tower and archway entrance remain. The colonial revival structure was built in 1942 by Murray Brown on the site of a former municipal building. The station was torn down in 1989, but the hose tower was preserved and the stone entrance incorporated with the rear exit at the Empress Walk shopping mall.
- Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd (corner of Don Mills Rd and Eglinton Ave E; by TTC: from Eglinton Station take the 34 Eglinton East bus to Don Mills), ☎ +1 416 696-1000, toll-free: +1 888-696-1110. Explore science (For all ages but some of the activities are mainly aimed towards children ~8-14) in a fun and exciting way. The Centre has several hundred exhibits, featuring geology, the science of nature (in the west wing), astronomical science, how to play music and technology in the south wing, human anatomy, communication and bias, and some miscellaneous artifacts of science. It also contains Ontario's only Omnimax (full wrap around) movie theatre. Hours & prices.
- York Cemetery (entrance), 160 Beecroft Rd (From North York Centre station, walk south to North York Blvd and then west to the entrance). The first burial in this large park-like cemetery occurred in 1946, although the official opening was in 1948. The park, divided into eastern and western sections by Senlac Road, has several points of interest for visitors.
- Miltary artillery. The north-east quadrant of the eastern section of the cemetary has military graves where old artillery pieces and a Sherman tank are displayed.
- Grave of the last Grand Duchess of Russia (North side of cemetery near the path). Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna was the younger sister of Tsar Nicholas II, the last tzar of Russia. After World War II, she lived in Canada and died in Toronto in 1960.
- Garden of Remembrance. This attractive flower garden contains a fountain, stream, gazebo and a small footbridge.
- Shepard farmhouse. Interior not open for public visits. The property of York Cemetery was originally farmed by Joseph Shepard who bought the property in 1805. The brick farm house on the property was constructed by Joseph's son, Michael in 1837.
- Pond and Fountain (Western section of cemetary). There are gold fish in the pond. The path on the south side passes through a rustic cluster of trees.
- Graves of Chinese Canadians (South side of the western section). Many of the grave monuments carry a Chinese theme including a grave with 2 pagoda-style gazebos.
- Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge Street (North York Centre Station on subway line 2). The Square is a beautiful park featuring 20,000 square feet of open space, a garden court, an outdoor amphitheatre, fountains, and reflecting pool. Planters, trees, shrubs and wooden benches surround the area. An artificial stream runs from a fountain under a large sign at Yonge street down into a large concrete square. A large pool is located in the centre of the square that serves as a relaxing focal point in the summer and a skating rink in the winter. The Square hosts special events in warmer weather such as showcase music, art, dancing, theatre and farmers market. Check the events calendar on the website.
- Toronto Centre For The Arts, 5040 Yonge St (South of North York Centre Station on subway line 1). Contemporary arts complex showcasing Broadway musicals, plays & live orchestras on 3 diverse stages.
- York University founded in 1959 as an offspring of the University of Toronto, is one of three universities in Toronto and is quite excellent in its education offerings. Some would say that its northerly location in the suburbs of the city give it a homey feel while its structure and landscape are breathtaking. Others feel that it is remote and lacking in architectural distinction. Visiting the university is easy, it may be accessed by the 106 bus from Downsview subway station on the University-Spadina line.
- Glendon College, part of York University, but located on its own, very green and historic campus, is home to a bilingual faculty of liberal arts along with a few graduate programmes. It also has links with College Boreal, the French-language community college serving southern Ontario. It can easily be reached by several buses emanating from Lawrence station on the Yonge line.
- Seneca College is the main community college serving North York (though Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning attracts many students from the western part of North York especially). Seneca has several campuses, the largest in the eastern section.
- Centre Point, South-west corner of Yonge St and Steeles Ave (TTC bus 53 or 60 from Finch Station). Centre Point is the last bastion within the city of Toronto for a one stop shop on Yonge Street, although quality and selection are not the greatest.
- Fairview Mall, North-east corner of Don Mills Rd and Sheppard Ave E (Don Mills Station on sunway line 4). Recently renovated, and still shiny, it has two levels and about 1 million sq.ft. of retail, including large multi-level department stores Sears and the Bay, and brand name shops like the Apple Store, HMV, H&M, GAP and so on. It also has a large food court and movie theatres.
- Bayview Village Mall, Near the north-east corner of Bayview Ave and Sheppard Ave E (Bayview Station on subway line 4). Bayview Village Mall is a relatively smaller mall, the defining factor being its large share of luxury and upscale boutiques, of both international and Canadian designers. It has a large bookstore (Chapters/Indigo) and two fine food grocery stores (Loblaws and Pusateri's). It's also home to one of largest LCBO (liquor stores) in Ontario, being one of the LCBO's flagship stores. If you can legally buy it in Ontario, LCBO Bayview Village will have it, with a large Vintages section of fine and rare wines to boot.
- Downsview Park Flea Market, 40 Carl Hall Rd (Bus 101 from Downsview Subway Station (line 1) to bus stop at 35 Carl Hall Rd), ☎ +1 416-638-2525. Open weekends only. Booths offer various products such as electronics, home decor, antiques & collectibles, cosmetics, among others. Its food court offers a variety of international food from Afghan to Trinidadian and omits the chain restaurants that dominate many shopping mall food courts.
- Shops at Don Mills (formerly Don Mills Centre), 1090 Don Mills Road (Don Mills Rd at Lawrence Ave E; TTC bus routes: 25,54,162), ☎ +1 416-447-6087. This unusual suburban shopping centre is organized like a small town commercial district with shop-lined streets and a town square with cafes and a clock tower. In winter, there is a skating rink in the town square.
- Yorkdale Shopping Centre, 3401 Dufferin St (Yordale Station on subway line 1). Yorkdale Shopping Centre was 1,200,000 sq.ft. when it opened in 1964 with 110 stores. It cost 44 million dollars to build. Today Yorkdale is over 1,600,324 sq.ft. and has over 200 stores and services. An additional 165,000 sq.ft. of state-of-the-art entertainment and retail space have been added in the summer of 1999 thus making a visit to Yorkdale a better shopping experience than ever before. It is the best mall to visit in Toronto outside the downtown core.
There are dozens of plazas and strip malls in North York that beg for exploration. Don't be dissuaded by visions of suburban purgatory! If you have your own transportation, you can explore and sample tasty authentic Persian, Middle Eastern, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Jewish, Chinese, Caribbean, Indian, Latin American or classic diners and more. Often at better prices and greater quality than downtown strips. When multiculturalism is talked about in Toronto, it is the areas of North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke.
- Asahi Sushi, 7000 Bathurst St, Vaughan (1 block north of Steeles Ave W), ☎ +1 905-760-1294. A great place to grab a dinner if you aren't in the mood for anything too fancy and very reasonably priced. Staff are also exceptionally friendly.
- Asian Legend, 900 Don Mills Rd (Between Eglinton Ave and Lawrence Ave; bus 25 or 162), ☎ +1 416-443-8880. Northern Chinese cuisine including northern-style dim sum, distinctly different from Cantonese dim sum. Dim sum for 2 persons: pork potstickers, rolled onion pancake with sliced beef, sesame biscuit stuffed with egg & pork floss, pan fried green onion pancake.
- Asian Legend, 125 Ravel Rd (NE corner of Finch Ave E and Leslie St; TTC bus 39 from Finch Subway Station), ☎ +1 416-756-9388. Northern Chinese cuisine including northern-style dim sum.
- Congee Queen, 895 Lawrence Ave E (SW corner of the Donway West and Lawrence Ave opposite Shops at Don Mills; buses 54 & 162), ☎ +1 416-916-0338. Chinese BBQ & stir-fry dishes plus congee (rice porridge)
- Congee Star, 900 Don Mills Rd (at Barber Greene Rd), ☎ +1 416-385-8822. Cantonese cuisine.
- Europe Bar and Restaurant, 3030 Bathurst St, North York (Take 52 bus from either Lawrence or Lawrence West subway to Bathurst St; walk 1¼ blocks south on west side.), ☎ +1 647 436-9739. 11am - 11pm. Hungarian cuisine. about $70 for 2 persons.
- Lloyd’s Foodmart, 1710 Jane Street (½ block north of Lawrence Ave W), ☎ +1 416-242-2436. Soul food, Caribbean cuisine. Chicken and rice plates at most affordable prices.
- Miller Tavern, 3885 Yonge St (at Mill St, one block south of Old York Mills Rd and York Mills Stn, southern exit), ☎ +1 416-322-5544. Located in Hogg's Hollow overlooking a park, this restaurant is in a heritage building, with a big patio & enclosed veranda.
- Paradise Chinese Cuisine, 5505 Leslie St (North side of the shopping centre at Leslie & Finch), ☎ +1 416-490-8828. Chinese restaurant serving dim sum & classic dishes such as Peking Duck. Dim sum for 2: $26 w/tax&tip.
- Pho 88 Restaurant, 5197 Yonge St (1½ blocks north of Empress Ave near North York Centre subway.), ☎ +1 416-225-8899. Vietnamese cuisine.
- Shawarma Max, 5171 Yonge St (½ north of Empress Ave), ☎ +1 647-351-7629. The chicken shawarma sandwich is loaded with vegetables and is very nicely moist. This fast-food restaurant usually offer mamoul, a date-filled shortbread cookie. Inexpensive..
- Sun Star Chinese Cuisine, 636 Finch Ave E, North York (39 bus from Finch Station to bus stop named: 636 Finch Ave E.), ☎ +1 416-229-0866. Cantonese cuisine. $60 for 4 persons including tax & tip.
- Tov-Li North (Tov-Li Pizza), 5982 Bathurst St (Between Steeles Ave W & Finch Ave W), ☎ +1 416-650-9800. Kosher restaurant specializing in vegetarian & Mediterranean food. Tovli's serves traditional Israeli Middle Eastern foods, no pork allowed!
- Tov-Li South, 3519 Bathurst St (Between Wilson Ave & Lawrence Ave W), ☎ +1 416-784-9900. Kosher restaurant specializing in vegetarian & Mediterranean food.
- Hotel Novotel Toronto North York, 3 Park Home Avenue (At North York Centre Subway Station), ☎ +1 416 733-2929. With the subway, you can be downtown in 30 minutes from this hotel. There are a number of nearby restaurants.
Like any major city, North York (as part of Toronto) has its share of crime, though far less than the rate found in American cities of equal (and even smaller) size. While it is easy to name specific areas (Jane and Finch, Don Mills and Finch) these are based as much on local legend as police data. Additionally, they tend to be out of the way and purely residential areas and so most tourists will have little reason to venture to them. A lot of the crime is gang-on-gang and in the wee hours. Practice good safety routines, keep your wits and you'll be fine. Plan your route ahead of time as best you can and avoid walking alone at night in deserted areas. Feel free to enjoy late night events, sights, sounds and smells in areas with lots of people. All said, North York is generally one of the safer areas of Toronto, and there is little to fear. If you seem lost or confused, simply ask someone!
|Routes through North York|
|END ←||N S||→ Midtown → Entertainment and Financial Districts|
|Barrie ← Vaughan ←||N S||→ Entertainment and Financial Districts → END|
|END ← Richmond Hill ←||N S||→ Entertainment and Financial Districts → END|