Monday, July 11, 2011

Hood, Sweet Barbara (Ruth)

Toronto is a city of over 200 neighbourhoods, each with its own culture, vibe, and reputation. There's "The Danforth" (centre of Greek culture), "The Distillery" (an up-and-coming area built around an old, you guessed it, distillery), Yonge & Eglinton (or, Yonge & Eg... or, Yonge & Eligible because of all the singletons),  "The Annex" (where a bunch of University students live), and "Rosedale" (home of the uber rich),  just to name a few.

My neighbourhood is officially called "The Beach", although some (including me) still call it "The Beaches". Back in 1793 it was a swampy shoreline with a few large homes - the current beach was created in 1930 with a continuous, wide boardwalk that exists today. It soon became a mecca for "city folk", with amusement parks, social and swimming clubs.

It still is a mecca for city folk! Just 20 minutes on the streetcar and you leave downtown Toronto for the clean and swimmable waters of The Beach(es).
Looking east along the boardwalk
Leuty lifeguard station, c. 1920
Locals practice stone balancing - some of them are really good!
Hundreds play beach volleyball every evening during the week and on weekends
There have actually been a couple of public debates over whether the neighbourhood is called the historic name "The Beach", or the more common name of "The Beaches" used particularly by newcomers (like me). Finally in 2006 the local business improvement association held a vote, and "The Beach" won with 58% of the vote.

I guess it's not that important that you know that, but it does add to some of the mystique of this neighbourhood. The history is everywhere here, from the houses and the landmarks, to the old tree-lined streets. Residents feel a certain sense of community spirit, and with all the construction and growth there is a surge of local pride to keep out the "big box" stores and preserve the ambiance of the neighbourhood.

I love my neighbourhood for all these reasons and because it allows a city girl to have a little bit of olde-fashioned rural home life at the same time. Here are a few more reasons I love my 'hood:
Tree-lined streets - in autumn these trees look like they're on fire.
The Fox Theatre, built in 1914. It's the longest operating theatre in North America!
My local Sunday breakfast hangout
Numerous places to buy local produce.
Walks on the boardwalk with a BFF.
Lots and lots of walking and biking trails.
Meat on the Beach - pretty popular butcher with some good produce as well. This
truck is part of their advertising display every weekend.
The Firehall, still working! c. 1905
My favourite flower shop, run by Jasmine. 
Historic homes - someday I want to own this one.

Lovely semi-detached homes. These two are across the street from me,
and inhabited by two lovely families - two of the best reasons I
love my 'hood.


  1. I loved this post. You've written beautifully about the neighbourhood you love, and you make me want to spend more time there! Funny how the distance from Etobicoke to the Beach(es) can seem daunting.

  2. A fantastic post about a great part of Toronto!