Forest Hill

Forest Hill

Forest Hill is a wealthy Toronto neighbourhood situated in the most picturesque area of the city and is home to many prominent and celebrity residents. Gently sloping hills, winding roads, charming parks and an array of proudly maintained mansions with beautifully manicured yards along tree-lined streets are what Forest Hill has to offer. The Forest Hill Village on Spadina and Lonsdale is the hub of the community. It exudes a small village appeal offering specialty shops, boutiques and oodles of cafes where residents mingle and meet. In its midst stand two of the most recognized private schools in the country, Bishop Strachan for young females and Upper Canada College for young males. What makes this part of Toronto special is that there are very few sidewalks. The landscape in Forest Hill is also important — not just as scenery - but because it is closely linked to the idea of a stately neighbourhood that people aspire to live in.

Location

Forest Hill Neighbourhood Map
Forest Hill Neighbourhood Map

The boundaries of Lower Forest Hill are Avenue Road to the east, Bathurst Street to the west, St. Clair Avenue to the south and Eglinton Avenue and Chaplin Crescent to the north. This prominent neighbourhood has a harmonious mix of beautifully crafted, luxurious mansions built in different architectural styles, from traditional Tudor to Gregorian houses. Even though many of them have been renovated or replaced with modern residences, they still preserve their original charm. Terracotta-tiled French Colonial houses, English country manors, and the occasional ultra-modern condominium complex are quite common in the area as well.

History

Forest Hill’s documented history dates back to the 1860s, when John Wickson built his summer residence at the junction of Eglinton Avenue and Old Forest Hill Road. Previously, the area had been known by the name Spadina Heights, a derivative of the Ojibwa word ishapadenah, which is commonly translated as a hill or sudden rise in land. Later on, in 1923, the area was incorporated as a village, and in 1967, it joined Swansea Village and became one of the last villages to be annexed by the City of Toronto.

Green Areas at Your Reach

One of the neighbourhood’s biggest parks, Cedarvale Park spreads over 35.7 acres of land and creates the natural border between the posh Cedarvale neighbourhood to the north and the trendy neighbourhood of Hillcrest to the south. Cut diagonally by the Cedarvale Ravine, this beautiful green oasis is used for many forms of recreation. With more than enough space for multiple teams on the many playing fields and soccer pitches, there is also the Phil White indoor ice rink and tennis courts in the nearby community centre. The latest additions to the recreational activities in the park are the enclosed off-leash area for dogs and the progressive educational program, “Families in Nature”, run by over 300 volunteers, that conducts its activities in the middle of the park. The meadow has been converted to a wetland habitat that provides the perfect conditions for local ecosystems. The program is helping to take care of the wetlands and create a set of educational signs with information about its plants, birds, and animals for visitors walking along the footpaths. Throughout the year, you can join the organized Yoga Walks on the many trails in Cedarvale Ravine.

Parks in Toronto
  Toronto Parks by Vlad Litvinov

Sir Winston Churchill Park is located at the south-east corner of Spadina Road and St. Clair Avenue. If running is your thing, this park offers a popular jogging route of a little less than 2 miles, which starts on Spadina with a number of stairs to test your fitness. Running down the gravel path, you pass along a big fenced-in dog park, a busy tennis court, and a little playground. Wrapping all around the park is the Nordheimer Ravine, which offers some quality picnic spots and a rustic wood path for a lovely walk.

Local Attractions

If youre in the neighbourhood, you should definitely visit this beautiful Medieval Castle that takes you back in time and allows you to wander dreamily around its corridors or peek into one of its 98 rooms. Casa Loma, which means “the house on the hill” in Spanish, is over a century old and continues to draw a large number of tourists every year. Its unmatched European elegance and splendour invite you to explore its secret passageways, 800-foot tunnel, breath-taking towers, grand staircase, and stunning interiors. The architect involved in its design was E.J. Lennox , who also worked on other famous buildings in Toronto, such as Toronto City Hall , th Toronto Athletic Club , and Maurice Cody Hall. Around the castle, the beautiful gardens spread out on for five acres (featuring a “Secret Garden” surrounded by a cedar hedge).

Round Room Casa Loma
Round Room Casa Loma by Wikimedia Commons

One of the main attractions outside the castle is its former stables. You will be surprised that the stables, renovated with the help of the Garden Club of Toronto , are constructed of mahogany and the floors are covered by Spanish tiles. The castle is a popular shooting location, and your eyes were not playing tricks on you when you thought you spotted it in many TV shows and Hollywood Blockbusters: X-men, Chicago, Extreme Measures, and many more. It is also occasionally used for social events. The only real, full-sized castle in North America with its Hogwarts-like appearance was the perfect choice for Toronto’s premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Often missed by tourists, the older and more humble cousin of Casa Loma sits quietly in the shadow of the magnificent castle and is among the oldest houses in the area. This Victorian home was built in 1866 by businessperson James Austin and was home to three generations of the Austin family. The lovely house that still holds most of its original furnishings was sold to the city by his granddaughter, Anna Kathleen Thompson, who lived in the house with her family from 1942 to 1982. It was opened as a historic house and city museum in 1984. The house is a lovely display of many styles from mid-Victorian to the Colonial revival of the 1930s. You can see the original items used in the house through the ages that embody the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, allowing you to step into the life of a family from the last century. The historic house is surrounded by six-acre gardens that include a beautiful orchard and a grape arbour and run up the hill leading you straight to the edge of the Davenport Escarpment. The tranquility and beauty of the gardens are often used for wedding photographs.

One of the neighbourhood’s biggest parks, Cedarvale Park spreads over 35.7 acres of land and creates the natural border between the posh Cedarvale neighbourhood to the north and the trendy neighbourhood of Hillcrest to the south. Cut diagonally by the Cedarvale Ravine, this beautiful green oasis is used for many forms of recreation. With more than enough space for multiple teams on the many playing fields and soccer pitches, there is also the Phil White indoor ice rink and tennis courts in the nearby community centre. The latest additions to the recreational activities in the park are the enclosed off-leash area for dogs and the progressive educational program, “Families in Nature”, run by over 300 volunteers, that conducts its activities in the middle of the park. The meadow has been converted to a wetland habitat that provides the perfect conditions for local ecosystems. The program is helping to take care of the wetlands and create a set of educational signs with information about its plants, birds, and animals for visitors walking along the footpaths. Throughout the year, you can join the organized Yoga Walks on the many trails in Cedarvale Ravine.

Parks in Toronto
  Toronto Parks by Vlad Litvinov

Belt Line Trail is a 14.4-kilometre track that passes through Forest Hill on its way down to Rosedale. It offers the perfect chance to see a little natural beauty in the very heart of the city. It follows the route of the Beltline Railway, Toronto’s first commuter rail line, built in the 1800s.

Artscape is a 60,000 square foot, multi-use, non-profit community centre surrounded by a 127,000 square feet of new City park. Housed in a series of renovated maintenance barns, it offers office and meeting space for twelve non-profit organizations, fifteen artists studios, and twenty-six artist live/work studios — all at very reasonable rent rates. There is also a public community art gallery. The first barn is the live/work space for artists, while the second one serves as the event space, and the third barn is the community theatre. The fourth barn is The Stop greenhouse and kitchen, and the last is the open-air barn. You can also find a playground for kids, an ice rink (during the winter months), an off-leash dog park, a beach volleyball court, and plenty of benches and picnic tables scattered throughout.

Arts & Entertainment

Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, 2026 Yonge Street,(416) 486-7469
Lonsdale Gallery, 410 Spadina Road, (416) 487-8733

Arts & Entertainment

Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, 2026 Yonge Street,(416) 486-7469
Lonsdale Gallery, 410 Spadina Road, (416) 487-8733

Shopping

Forest Hill Spa, 435 Spadina Road, (416) 484-4216
Kitsch Boutique, 325 Lonsdale, (416) 481-6712
Villa Ventura, 394 Spadina Road, (416) 482-8880
Art Interiors, 446 Spadina Road #203, (416) 488-3157
Tara Fingold Interiors, (416) 780-0096
Joe Fresh, 60 Carlton Street, (416) 596-7209
Word of Mouth (Kitchen Ware), 398 Spadina Road, (416) 488-6155
La Nuit Lingerie, 406 Spadina Road, (416) 481-8383
The Kitchen Table, 389 Spadina Road, (416) 484-7234
Cobs Bread, 417 Spadina Road, (647) 288-5200
Type, 427 Spadina Road, (416) 487-8973
Loblaws, 396 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 653-0220

Restaurants and Eateries

7 Numbers, 516 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 322-5183
Sotto, 425 Spadina Road, (416) 322-8818
Edo Ko, 431 Spadina Road, (416) 482-8973
Mashu Mashu, 387 Spadina Road (416) 840-0848
The Village Restaurant (Greasy Spoon), 420 Spadina Road (416) 487-1420
Il Mulino Restaurant, 1060 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 780-1173
Frida Restaurant, 999 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 787-2221
Marron Bistro Moderne, 948 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 784-0128
Thai Shan Inn Restaurant, 2404 Dufferin Street, (416) 784-1491
Scaramouche Restaurant, 1 Benvenuto Place, (416) 961-8011
Sushi Lovers, 327 Lonsdale Road, (416) 482-8807
The Thai Grill, 961 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 785-8424

Cafes

The Mad Bean, 519 Eglinton Avenue West, (647) 235-2456
Aroma Espresso Bar, 383 Spadina Road (416) 901-5874
Starbucks, 504 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 653-8181
Second Cup, 415 Spadina Road, (416) 544-9196
What A Bagel, 421 Spadina Road, (416) 480-9358
Cake Opera Co., 1136 Eglinton Avenue West, (647) 347-2626

Education

Schools:

Upper Canada College (Private), 200 Lonsdale Road, (416) 488-1125

An elementary and secondary school for boys, Upper Canada College was founded in 1829. It’s the oldest independent school in the area and the third oldest school in the country. Its list of notable alumni includes Robertson Davies, David Gilmour, Stephen Leacock, Arnold Walter, and many others. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the college’s Official Visitor and a member of the Board of Governors.

Bishop Strachan School (Private), 298 Lonsdale Road, (416) 483-4325

Canada’s Oldest Day and Boarding School For Girls, Bishop Strachan was founded in 1867 by John Langtry. Affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada, the school has similar traditions to schools in the United Kingdom. The school’s alumni include personalities such as Viola Allen, Margaret Campbell, Emily Murphy, and Beatrice Helen Worsley.

Alternative Primary School Daycare and Nursery (Public), 1100 Spadina Road, (416) 393-9199
North Preparatory Junior Public School (Public), 1100 Spadina Road, (416) 393-9230
West Preparatory Junior Public School (Public), 70 Ridge Hill Drive, (416) 393-1633
Forest Hill Collegiate Institute (Public), 730 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 393-1860
Holy Rosary Catholic School (Catholic), 308 Tweedsmuir Avenue, (416) 393-5225
St. Michael’s College School (Private Catholic), 1515 Bathurst Street, (416) 653-3180
Forest Hill Jr. & Sr. (public), 78 Dunloe Road, (416) 393-9335

Libraries:

Forest Hill Public Library, 700 Eglinton Avenue W, (416) 393-7706

Transportation

By car: The Allen Expressway is just steps away from Eglinton Avenue West.

By bus: The area is located within walking distance from a number of bus routes that connect the neighbourhood with Toronto’s subway lines.

By subway: St. Clair West Subway Station, Eglinton West Subway Station and Yonge and Eglinton Subway line.

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