Toronto/West End

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.

Understand

High Park

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.

Get in

By subway

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.

By streetcar

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.

By car

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.

By bus

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.

By train

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.

By bicycle

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.

See

Liberty Village

Little Italy

Do

Revue Cinema

Buy

Little Italy

Roncesvalles Village

West Queen West

Eat

Bloor Street Village

Dundas Street West (downtown)

Dundas Street West (The Junction)

Little Italy

Queen Street West

Roncesvalles Village

Drink

Bloor Street West

The Junction

The Junction is the area around Dundas Street West and Keele Street north of Bloor Street.

Ossington Village

Roncesvalles Village

Queen Street

College Street

Sleep

Connect

Go next

Here is a list of adjacent districts:

Routes through the West End

END Etobicoke  W  E  Yorkville and the Annex Scarborough
Kitchener Midtown  W  E  Entertainment and Financial Districts END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, January 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.