The West End of Toronto is bounded roughly by Bathurst St to the east, St Clair Avenue to the north, the Humber River to the west and Lake Ontario to the south. The West End covers a vast swath of Toronto and includes ethnic enclaves and quiet, residential neighborhoods inhabited largely by recent immigrants to Canada. In recent years, the West End has undergone explosive growth and gentrification, and is quickly becoming one of the hottest areas in the city in which to live.
The neighbourhoods of the West End are some of the most diverse in the city, owing to its significant immigrant population and also to the gentrification of former industrial areas and formerly rundown neighbourhoods.
From the early 1900s, Italian immigrants who worked in railroad and road construction began buying up affordable Edwardian-style homes and opening up shops along College Street, in the area now known as Little Italy. Recently, the neighbourhood has become popular with young professionals because of its great restaurants and cafes, vibrant nightlife, and proximity to the downtown core. More recent Italian immigrants have chosen to settle a little farther north, along St. Clair Avenue, in an area known as Corso Italia.
Little Italy also has a strong Portuguese presence. However, that presence is more visible along Dundas Street with neighbourhoods marked as Little Portugal and Rua dos Açores (street of the Azores), these names being branded on the local street name signs. You can find authentic churrasqueiras (Portuguese BBQ restaurants) in these areas.
Ossington Village is an area of shops and restaurants between Queen Street and Dundas Street. Prior to gentrification, this was a semi-industrial area with a number of automotive servicing shops of which only one is still in business; another has been converted into a restaurant with the dining room in the former service bays. Some Portuguese businesses are located towards the north end of the area.
High Park is huge park on the west side of the district having gardens as well as naturally wild landscapes. There is also a pond big enough to be considered a small lake. The 506 streetcar ends just inside the park in a rustic setting.
Just east of High Park lies Roncesvalles Village, named after a valley in northern Spain, which, oddly enough, is the heart of the city's Polish community where you will find Polish restaurants and pastry shops.
North of High Park, centred on the corner of Dundas Street and Keele Street, you'll find The Junction, so named because of the railroad lines that meet in this neighbourhood.
Along Queen Street west of Bathurst Street, formerly rundown neighbourhoods have been gentrified becoming very trendy locales. East of Dufferin Street is the ultra-hip West Queen West neighbourhood, an area home to many of the city's hottest bars, lounges and cafes, including the ever-popular Drake and Gladstone Hotels. Going west of Dufferin Street, we pass through Parkdale, the new "it" neighbourhood, with its antique shops and quaint Victorian-style homes.
South-east of King Street and Dufferin Street is Liberty Village, a former industrial area that used to be criss-crossed with railway tracks that served the many factories in the area. With gentrification, the factories in the eastern part of Liberty Village were demolished and replaced by condominiums. The central portion of the area became a small shopping area. On the western side, the factories have largely been preserved but converted to house numerous small businesses.
Along Bloor Street, one block west of Bathurst Street, you will find Mirvish Village, an attractive commercial enclave on Markham Street. For one block, on both sides of the street, there is a series of Victorian houses containing independently owned shops, art studios, cafes, bookstores, boutiques and galleries.
Adjacent to Mirvesh Village is Koreatown, located between Bathurst Street and Christie Streets (just west of The Annex and north of Little Italy). The neighbourhood is home to dozens of Korean (and Japanese-Korean) restaurants and bars, as well as Korean grocery, clothing and book stores.
Much further west, past High Park, lies Bloor West Village, an area with quaint shops, lovely grocery stores with fruits and flowers piled high outside and a wide variety of restaurants line Bloor Street from Jane Street to Runnymede Road, while older houses, many in the American Craftsman style, line the area's side streets. The area has a Ukrainian presence with its Annual Ukrainian Festival in September.
The West End is served by Bloor-Danforth subway line 2. Dundas West station is a major transit hub for the area, providing connections to streetcar lines, buses, and GO Transit commuter trains at the Bloor GO station.
Streetcars run across much of the West End, making it easy to get around.
The 501 Queen route runs along Queen Street from The Beach, through the downtown core and out to Etobicoke and the Mississauga border in the west. This route runs through the West Queen West and Parkdale neighbourhoods.
The 504 King route runs along King Street, through Parkdale's southern edge, and north through Roncesvalles Village to the Dundas West subway station.
The 505 Dundas route serves Little Portugal and connects to the Dundas West subway station.
The 506 College route runs along College Street and passes through Little Italy on its way to High Park. It has connections to Main Street in the East End, and the College and Queens Park subway stations.
Bloor St, Dundas St and Queen St provide east-west transit across the breadth of the West End and connect it to Etobicoke in the west and downtown and the East End to the east. From the 401, heading south on Dufferin St or Jane St (via the 400) will bring you to the West End. From the Gardiner Expressway, the Jameson Ave exit will put you in Parkdale.
Bus 63 runs along Ossington Ave and Bus 29 runs along Dufferin St.
Bus route 47 runs from Yorkdale Mall to Parkdale along Lansdowne Ave, also serving Lansdowne station on Bloor-Danforth subway line 2.
Some GO Transit trains stop at the Bloor GO station, adjacent to the Dundas West subway station. UP Express, the train that operates between Toronto Pearson Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto, makes a stop at the Bloor GO Station as well.
College St has bicycle-only lanes on either side of the street, one of the only major streets with bicycle lanes downtown. There are numerous poles to which you can lock your bike all along College St. The bike lanes run next to parked cars, therefore it is important to watch for drivers opening doors.
- High Park (Subway line 2 to High Park Station or 506 streetcar to the High Park loop or 501 streetcar to Colborne Lodge Dr). High Park is a large recreational and natural park. One third of its area, spanning 161 hectares (400 acres), remains in a natural state, with a rare oak savannah ecology. The park features:
- Cherry blossoms. Roughly during the first week of May, the cherry trees bloom for a short time in High Park. A good place to see them is at a grove along the West Road near the north end of the park. Check the website for accurate predictions of when the cherry trees start to blossom.
- Grenadier Pond.
- Landscaped gardens. just south of the Grenadier Restaurant.
- High Park Children’s Garden. castle-like playground
- High Park Zoo. The zoo's nine paddocks are home to a variety of animal species from around the world including bison, llamas, peacocks, deer, highland cattle and sheep. Free admission.
- Colborne Lodge, 11 Colborne Lodge Dr. A City of Toronto historic site, this rare Regency picturesque cottage is a graceful monument to John and Jemima Howard, the couple who founded High Park. John Howard, one of Toronto's first architects, as well as a City engineer and surveyor, built Colborne Lodge in 1837. The museum features many original furnishings and artifacts and some of John Howard's own watercolours depicting images of early Toronto.
- Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), 158 Sterling Rd (501 streetcar to Sterling Rd), ☎ +11 416-395-0067. Temporarily closed; facility opens early 2017. MOCCA’s facility is modest in scale, impressive in design and functions effectively as a nucleus of energies for the production and exchange of creativity, ideas and innovation.
- Roncesvalles Carhouse, 20 The Queensway. For railfans: The Roncesvalles Carhouse, located at northwest corner of The Queensway and Roncessvales Avenue in Toronto, is the oldest of the Toronto's streetcar depots opened in 1895 but the older building is from shortly after 1921 and there is a much more modern addition on the east side for the new low-floor streetcars. The south side of the facility is viewable from the public sidewalk.
- Trinity Bellwoods Park, Queen St & Strachan Ave (501 streetcar to Strachan Ave). This is one of the largest and most pleasant parks in central Toronto. It has the feel of a communal back garden, with families picnicking, students reading while getting a tan, pickup baseball and frisbee games and children playing in the large playground. The park also has tennis courts and a dog run in the last remaining section of a dried up ravine.
- MZTV Museum of Television, 64 Jefferson Ave (504 streetcar to Joe Shuster Way or Atlantic Ave; south of Liberty St), ☎ +1 416-599-7339. Tu-Fr 2pm-5pm but telephone to confrm. This private museum displays many old televisions including a few from the late 1920s plus many from each of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. Sometimes the museum hosts a private visit (e.g. student groups); so you should call ahead of time to confirm. Free admission.
- Toronto Carpet Factory, 67 Mowat Ave (1 block east of Dufferin St; 504 King streetcar), ☎ +1 416-533-3000. The Toronto Carpet Factory is a former carpet manufacturing facility, a full city block in size, built between 1899 and the 1920s. This turn of the century office complex features several buildings clustered around internal courtyards and laneways that visitors may walk. In the internal laneway one would see the remains of a railway spur for the delivery of carloads of coal to an on-site power and heating plant that still stands intact but out of use. There is a café at the back. Today the building is a "centre of creativity" providing space to a variety of small businesses. History.
- College Street United Church, 452 College St (506 Streetcar to Bathurst St or 511 Streetcar to College St), ☎ +1 416 929-3016. This church, built in 1885 fell into hard times in the 1990s was partly demolished to build condominiums preserving only the original church tower. However the church is still in operation, utilizing the ground floor of the condo building.
- Piazza Johnny Lombardi (Grace - College Parkette), Grace St at College St (506 streetcar to Grace St). In this small park, there is a memorial consisting of two life-size statues depicting Johnny Lombardi chatting with a young boy both seated on a park bench. Johnny Lombardi promoted multi-culturalism in the city through broadcasting.
- Luís de Camões Way, College St at Crawford St (506 streetcar to Crawford St). Little Italy has a strong Portuguese presence, an example of which is this tiny square dedicated to the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões (1524-1580) who wrote the epic poem Os Lusíadas in Homeric fashion to interpret the Portuguese voyages of discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. (The bust of Camões winks showing the effect of losing the right eye in a battle at Ceuta in 1549.) Behind the square is a mural composed of blue tiles (azulejos) depicting historical events of Portugal.
- Palais Royale, 1601 Lakeshore Blvd W (501 or 504 streetcar to Roncesvalles, then cross the pedestrian bridge over the Gardiner Expressway), ☎ +1 416 533-3553. M-F 10AM-6PM. This former big band hall has recently been renovated and reopened. It hosts a number of different events, from comedy to swing music. It also serves gourmet seasonal food.
- Lamport Stadium, 1151 King St W (504 streetcar to Fraser Ave). This 9000 seat stadium remains largely unused, hosting mainly field hockey games and soccer camps. However, it is currently in the process of being renovated and may soon host major soccer games.
- Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave (South of Howard Park Ave), ☎ +1 416-531-9959. The Revue Cinema, built completed in 1912, is Toronto's oldest operating movie theatre. This community-run theatre is operated by the not-for-profit Revue Film Society since 2007. It shows 2nd-run Hollywood films & regular special-interest screenings.
- Shakespeare in High Park (High Park Amphitheatre), High Park (East of the Grenadier Restaurant). Live theatre for Shakespeare fans.
- June Records, 662 College St (West of Grace St; 506 streetcar), ☎ +1 416-516-5863. Compact record store offering a mix of classic, new & collectable records & audio equipment.
- Lilliput Hats, 462 College St (just west of Bathurst St), ☎ +1 416-536-5933. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 11AM-6PM. You'll never want to take your hat off at this famed milliner shop which sells all sorts of hats from fedoras, strawhats to tailored hats.
- Doll Factory by Damzels, 394 Roncesvalles Ave (just south of Howard Park Ave; 504 streetcar), ☎ +1 416-598-0509. Closed Mondays. NOW magazine: "The Toronto-based design duo behind Damzels’ retro-flirty frocks have one of the biggest cult followings in town."
- LP's LPs, 2227 Dundas St W (504 or 505 streetcar to Roncesvalles Ave & Dundas St), ☎ +1 416-671-0420. Record store specializing in vinyl LPs.
West Queen West
- Cabaret Vintage, 672 Queen St W (just west of Palmerston Ave), ☎ +1 416-504-7126. Vintage clothing store. As of January, 2016, the store is in the process of closing to become an online business.
Bloor Street Village
- Yumi Japanese Restaurant, 2384 Bloor St W (Bloor-Danforth subway line 2 to Jane station), ☎ +1 416 766-3293. M-F 11:30AM-3PM, 5PM-10:30PM; Sa 11:30AM-11PM; Su 4PM-10PM. This small restaurant has an enormous selection of sushi in addition to many other Japanese specialties. The slight rumbling feeling of the subway under your feet is a nice touch. Mains $10-$25.
Dundas Street West (downtown)
- Caldense Bakery, 1209 Dundas St W (Just west of 505 streetcar stop at Ossington Ave, south side), ☎ +1 416-534-3847. Portuguese bakery and cafe. European Pastries and Breads. Portuguese custard tarts (pastel de nata).
- Nova Era Bakery, 1172 Dundas St W (Just west of 505 streetcar stop at Ossington Ave, north side), ☎ +1 416-538-7700. Portuguese bakery and cafe offering European-style coffee, bread and pastries
Dundas Street West (The Junction)
- Crema Coffee Company, 3079 Dundas St W (at Quebec; 30 or 40 bus), ☎ +1 416 767-3131. 7AM-8PM daily. Excellent coffee.
- Bar Italia, 582 College St (between Clinton St and Manning Ave; 506 streetcar), ☎ +1 416 535-3621. M-Th 11AM-1AM, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-2AM, Su 10AM-midnight. It's food as good as Mama used to make, well-prepared pasta, risotto, fish of the day, and a traditional favorite of sautéed mushroom salad with arugula and Parmesan. Great portions are served by cheerful staff, and in the summer, the outdoor patio makes for great alfresco dining.
- Cafe Diplomatico & Restaurant, 594 College St (at Clinton; 506 streetcar), ☎ +1 416 534-4637. Su-Th 8AM-1AM, F-Sa 8AM-2AM. A fixture in Little Italy, Cafe Diplomatico has been serving authentic Italian food and heated political discussion for years. The patio is especially popular.
- Easy Restaurant, 713 College St (506 streetcar to Crawford St), ☎ +1 416-535-2222. 9AM-5PM daily. Specializes in breakfast, lunch and smoothies.
- Golden Wheat Bakery & Pastry, 652 College St (West of the 506 streetcar stop at Grace St), ☎ +1 416-534-1107. Portuguese bakery and coffee shop. Portuguese custard tarts (pastel de nata) available here.
- Kalendar, 546 College St (Little Italy) (506 streetcar to Euclid Ave), ☎ +1 416 923-4138. M-W 11:30AM-11PM, Th 11:30AM-midnight, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 10:30AM-2AM, Su 10:30AM-11PM. This busy restaurant with a large patio on College Street is a wonderful place for brunch any day of the week. $10-$15.
- Metro, 735 College St (Little Italy) (506 Streetcar to Shaw St), ☎ +1 416-533-2515. 24h. Large supermarket located in a small strip mall with free parking.
- Vivoli, 665 College St (Little Italy) (at Beatrice; 506 streetcar), ☎ +1 416 536-7575. 11:30AM-2AM daily. Rustic Italian fare served with Italian love. Staff are friendly and be sure to try some homemade pizza, straight out of the wood burning oven.
Queen Street West
- Dufflet Pastries, 787 Queen Street West (West of Bathurst). Cakes to die for—they supply desserts for a number of the city's best restaurants. Limited seating, but taking out a coffee to go and strolling along this interesting stretch of Queen St is ideal in warmer weather. You can also buy customized birthday cakes here.
- Cafe Polonez, 195 Roncesvalles Ave (South of Wright Ave; 504 streetcar to Fermanagh Ave), ☎ +1 416-532-8432. Polish & Eastern European cuisine with many Polish beers.
Bloor Street West
- Burdock, 1184 Bloor St W (2 blocks west of Dufferin St and Line 2 Dufferin Subway Station), ☎ +1 416-546-4033. Brewpub with Canadian fare & craft beers and a performance space for live music.
- The Swan & Firkin, 2205 Bloor St W. British-style pub with rooftop patio.
- Tallboys Craft Beer House, 838 Bloor St W (1½ blocks east of Ossington Ave and line 2 Ossington Subway Station), ☎ +1 416-535-7486. Alehouse specializing in local craft beers, plus creative pub food.
- Koreatown (the Bloor-Bathurst and Bloor-Christie area) has a heavy concentration of karaoke lounges.
The Junction is the area around Dundas Street West and Keele Street north of Bloor Street.
- Indie Alehouse, 2876 Dundas St W (just west of Keele St, bus 40 from Dundas West Subway Station (line 2)), ☎ +1 416-760-9691. Small brewpub with unusual beers, seasonal snacks & hearty meals.
- Bellwoods Brewery, 124 Ossington Ave (between Dundas St W and Queen St W), ☎ +1 416-535-4586. Brewpub with patio with limited seasonal dishes & a rotating selection of experimental beer.
- The Local (The Local Pub), 396 Roncesvalles Ave, ☎ +1 416 535-6225. A fun local pub with a large selection of Ontario based micro brews. Live independent music every night after 9pm and Sunday afternoons. Ron Leary plays every Wednesday night.
- Duggan's Brewery Parkdale, 1346 Queen St W (at Brock Ave; 501 streetcar), ☎ +1 416-588-1086. Closed Mondays. Brewpub with on-site brewery and snacks.
- Folly Brewpub, 928 College St (East of Dovercourt Rd; 505 streetcar), ☎ +1 416-533-7272. Brewpub with Belgian-style ales, plus a comfort food menu.
- Lansdowne Brewery, 303 Lansdowne Ave (between College St and Dundas St w; 505 or 506 streetcar), ☎ +1 416-588-1641. Closed Mondays. Brewpub, set in a converted warehouse, serving local ales, snacks & heartier fare.
- Howard Johnson Inn Toronto Downtown West, 14 Roncesvalles Ave (501 or 504 streetcars to Queen/Queensway and Roncesvalles), ☎ +1 416-532-9900. Modest rooms with free Wi-Fi & continental breakfast. Near the walkable districts of Roncesvalles Village and Queen Street in Parkdale with shops and restaurants.
- Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St W (501 streetcar to Beaconsfield Ave), ☎ +1 416 531-5042. This hotel was opened in 1890 as "Small's Hotel." The hotel eventually fell on hard times, along with its neighbourhood. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was variously a punk bar, a rave den and a flophouse. It was renovated in 2001 and has subsequently become one of Toronto's most talked-about nightclubs and arts venues, popular hang-out spot for those who want to see and be seen. The hotel contains nineteen rooms including an upstairs lounge, a dining room, a cafe, a roof top patio named the Sky Yard, and a music bar called the Underground. $189-$299 per night.
- Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W (501 streetcar to Gladstone Ave), ☎ +1 416 531-4635. Like the Drake, this hotel was built at the end of the nineteenth century and fell on hard times in the 1970s. It was renovated in 2001 into a boutique hotel with each room designed by a different artist in a different style. The hotel bar's weekend karaoke nights are extremely popular. $185-$475 per night.
- Parkdale Library, 1303 Queen St W (501 streetcar to Brock Ave), ☎ +1 416-393-7686. Daily including most Sundays between September & June. Wi-fi, computers with internet access.
- Guardian Pharmacy Parkdale, 1488 Queen St W (501 streetcar to Lansdowne Ave or Jameson Ave). Open daily. Post office outlet.
Here is a list of adjacent districts:
- Entertainment and Financial Districts: CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium, Roy Thomson Hall, Union Station.
- Etobicoke: Islington Village
- Kensington-Chinatown: Kensington Market, Chinatown, Art Gallery of Ontario.
- Midtown: Casa Loma, Corso Italia
- Yorkville and the Annex: Royal Ontario Museum, University of Toronto, Yorkville.
|Routes through the West End|
|END ← Etobicoke ←||W E||→ Yorkville and the Annex → Scarborough|
|Kitchener ← Midtown ←||W E||→ Entertainment and Financial Districts → END|