Hillcrest Village

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Artscape Wychwood Barns
Artscape Wychwood Barns by Wikimedia Commons

Hillcrest Village is an established Toronto neighbourhood situated 15 minutes from Toronto’s financial district. It is comprised of two neighbourhoods known as “Humewood” located north of St. Clair Avenue West and “Hillcrest” located south of St. Clair Avenue West. Hillcrest Village boasts beautiful tree-lined streets making one feel far away from the buzzing city. Thanks to the many one-way streets and cul-de-sacs minimizing traffic and a high number of multi-functional green areas nearby, including the magnificent Cedarvale Park to the north and Hillcrest Park to the south, these quiet neighbourhoods are often coveted by families. Through the new trend of the so-called “Westward movement” of Toronto’s culture and nightlife, its many commercial streets host new trendy restaurants and shops.

Young professionals, singles, and families now join residents who have been living in the neighbourhood their whole life. Further west along St. Clair is Corso Italia home to the second largest Italian community in Toronto infusing the area with Italian culture. There are significant Latin American Spanish and Portuguese communities contributing to its growth and making a significant impact as well. Cedarvale to the north and Forest Hill to the east of Humewood is home to a large Jewish community whose children are making their way to Hillcrest Village joining a large migration of young entrepreneurs, professionals and young families from various religious and cultural backgrounds drawn to the vibrancy of Hillcrest Village.

These two areas, Humewood and Hillcrest, are forever bonded by the new St. Clair Avenue West Streetcar Project which divides these two areas between north and south. The new streetcar project was developed to expedite traffic, to encourage more people to walk the streets, promote new business development and business improvement as well as to beautify its streetscape. It will, undoubtedly, enhance the desirability and beauty of Hillcrest Village.

Real estate – Hillcrest Village bound

Josie Stern as Featured in Toronto Star
Click to read the article from Toronto Star

This friendly neighbourhood has always been a quiet residential area where families live for decades. Loved by its residents, many of Irish and Italian origins, it always remained in the shadow of the more well-to-do neighbourhoods such as Forest Hill, Cedarvale and the Annex. This started to change when Josie Stern now a successful real-estate agent in Toronto, got her first listing in the area. Realizing there was great potential in this vibrant community, she started to promote the area and its many advantages. Josie essentially became its ambassador, helping to move things forward. Combining her business skills with personal interest in the lives of its residents, and devotion to the neighbourhood where she sold her very first house, she gradually became more involved in the local community. Almost 25 years and 1,400 sold homes later, the “Josie Stern” for sale sign is ubiquitous in Hillcrest Village. Today, the area is thriving injected by entrepreneurial spirit, new business development, an explosion of lifestyle living condominiums, a new railway system, dozens of new eateries and arts and community based programs that cement this vibrant community. Hillcrest Village is finally being recognized for all the great things it can offer, becoming a popular destination for young professionals and singles starting yet another interesting era for the neighbourhood.

Location

Hillcrest Village

Hillcrest Village Neighbourhood Map
Hillcrest Village Neighbourhood Map

Hillcrest Village is defined by the borders of these streets: Vaughan Road to the North, Davenport Road to the South, Bathurst Street to the East and Oakwood Avenue to the West.

Hillcrest

Hillcrest is among the quieter neighbourhoods in the city and is a perfect getaway. Thinking twice about its name, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Hillcrest is nestled on the ridge of the Davenport Escarpment. As a result, the rich topography in the area creates particularly charming streets with some great views.  Some of the oldest houses in Hillcrest were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The detached houses near Hillcrest Park are younger, originating between 1910 and 1930.

Humewood

The locals call Humewood “The Woods“ because of its many streets with lovely names ending with the word “-wood.“ A typical address here could be Cherrywood, Pinewood, or Maplewood Avenue.Highly popular architectural styles among Torontonians as Tudor, English Cottage, and Edwardian can be found in Humewood. The buildings built between 1910 and 1925 come in various shapes and sizes. The distinct look of a Tudor house is created by the use of decorative half-timbering, steeply pitched roofs, narrow front doors and windows, and large chimneys with decorative brick, stonework, and chimney pots. The much smaller and more streamlined English Cottage style, with asymmetrical shapes, is often adored for its cozy, irregularly-shaped rooms.

History

Hillcrest

The history of Hillcrest dates back to the 1840s, when a reformer from England, Robert John Turner, founded this settlement after arriving in Canada. The original Turner house, named Bracondale, was where Hillcrest Park stands today, and it was owned by the family until 1937. The settlement of Bracondale Village started to spread around the Christie and Davenport intersection, mostly home to farmers and specialty stores, only to be added to the City of Toronto in 1909, like other nearby villages.

Humewood

Humewood was a part of Sir William Hume Blake’s (a prominent Torontonian lawyer and politician) real estate, established in 1850 and named after Humewood a small town in his beloved Ireland. Blake helped shape this neighbourhood that’s famous for the site of one of today’s top tourist attraction in Toronto, Casa Loma, located at the south end of the neighbourhood. But Sir Henry Mill Pellat, the brains behind the construction, had bigger plans for Humewood, dreaming about creating the wealthy gated community of Cedarvale. After WWI, combined with his many debts accumulated from the construction of Casa Loma, the project was stopped and the neighbourhood freely developed into the vibrant and open community as we know it today. The unfinished community walls are a constant reminder of this, and the iron entrance gate built in 1910s can still be found at the intersection of Claxton Boulevard and Bathurst Street.

Local Attractions

The mansion where the wealthy Blake family once resided was sold in the 1870s. Not long after, it burned down, only to be replaced by a similar house built on the original foundations. The Anglican Diocese bought the Humewood House in 1912 and used it as a refuge for young women in distress. After the many renovations and additions that followed, it is now one of the local landmarks and can be found at 40 Humewood Drive.

  • “The Hemingway House”

Are you a fan of the famous American author and Nobel prize winner, Ernest Hemingway? During his time in Canada when he was working as a freelancer and foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star, he was living in an apartment near St. Michael’s College School that is now proudly called "The Hemingway.“

Artscape Wychwood Barns is a perfect example of what can happen when there is a spark of inspiration and the local communities take initiative. What exactly is this 60,000-square-foot, multi-purpose complex that has been turned into the social hub of the area? Located on a 4.3 acre site between Wychwood Avenue and Christie Street, this community centre uses the five attached brick buildings (built in the 1910s) of the former Wychwood TTC Barns. After the TTC moved its activities to newer locations, The Barns remained vacant for years, its devastated buildings nothing but a thorn in the eyes of the residents. Realizing the potential of this space, the non-profit urban development organization Artscape launched a massive campaign in 2007 to save it and to rebuild it to a community space.

After receiving financial support from many local organizations, the project was astonishingly finished by 2008, providing exclusive living and working spaces for 26 artists and their families and many companies, including the Association for Native development in the Performing and Visual Arts, the Helene Comay Nursery School, the Latino Canadian Cultural Association, the Latin American-Canadian Arts Projects, the Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests, New Adventures in Sound Art, the Stop Community Food Centre, Storytelling Toronto, Theatre Direct Canada, and the Wychwood Barns Community Association. Today this innovative community project is among the hottest cultural and social meeting spots of the neighbourhood.

  • Green Barn Farmers‘ Market

Another brilliant addition to The Barns, this farmers‘ market, located at 601 Christie Street, consists of about forty vendors selling organic foods and local produce every Saturday between 8:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. in the summer breeze and transforms into a cozy, buzzing indoor market during the winter with opening times between 9:00 A.M. and 12:00 noon.

Green areas at your reach

The new community centre is surrounded by lovely green areas that include a beach volleyball court, a natural ice rink, a greenhouse, a fenced in off-leash dog area, a playground, picnic and chess tables, and paths, some of which trace the former streetcar tracks. With a stage in the area, the multifaceted meeting point provides many activities and is home to various seasonal festivals for the local community. The Saturday farmer’s market is highly popular delivering fresh produce, specialty items, baked goods, cheeses, jams making it a one stop shop for all kinds of cravings.

One of the biggest parks in Toronto, Cedarvale Park is a highly praised feature of this midtown neighbourhood. It creates the natural border between the mansions of Cedarvale to the north and the trendy neighbourhood of Hillcrest Village to the south. Cut diagonally by the Cedarvale Ravine and once part of the historic Belt Line Railway path dating back to the 1880s, this beautiful green oasis is used for many forms of recreation — from cycling, jogging, dog walking, children’s camps and bird watching in the summer to toboganning and cross-country skiing in the winter. 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.

This park, located between Humewood Drive and Pinewood Avenue, was originally part of Sir William Hume Blake’s old estate grounds. Believe it or not, the Humewood Drive you are now free to walk on was once a private lane way to his estate, currently Humewood House. It is one of the many green areas in the district. You can walk under the trees and contemplate the good old times, imagining Torontonians of the 19th century once walking the very same paths.

If you’ve ever wondered where the most spectacular views of the city skyline and the Lake Ontario are, Hillcrest Park, nested atop the Davenport escarpment, is your spot. Located near Christie Street, this park serves the neighbourhood well. When the four tennis courts of the Wychwood Tennis Club Tennis Club are closed for the season, the whole area opens for off-leash dog walking. For those with children, there is a playground with swings, climbing equipment, and a splash pad for the summer.

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 that 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.

More nearby parks

  • Viewmount Park off Viewmount Avenue
  • Roselawn Cemetery at 619 Roselawn Avenue
  • Fairbanks Memorial Park at 2213 Dufferin Street
  • Roycroft Park at 150 Boulton Drive
  • Relmar Gardens off Spadina Road

Sports & Recreation

  • Northern Karate, 756 St. Clair Ave. West, (416) 651-6000 Leaders in the field of martial arts education and personal development for more than three decades, Northern Karate Schools have been Voted #1 by eye, Now, City Parent, News4Kids, toronto.com, Toronto Life and the Toronto Sun.
  • Yong Choung Taekwondo, 44 Vaughan Road, (416) 652-0000 is the headquarters of 7 GTA locations.  Operating since 1980, they offer a variety of programs for preschoolers through to adults, from recreational programs and camps to competitive training. YCT has a long history of winning many awards and competitions, with multiple members on the Canadian National Team.
  • CFH Studios, 579A St Clair Avenue West, (416) 819-9540, Circle Flow Harmony Studios let by Toronto Hapkido legend, Master Young-Ho.  Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, non-resisting movements and control of the opponent and is a very practical method of self-defence. Hapkido is a dynamic and explosive martial art that employs joint locks, kicks, strikes, throwing techniques. You will also learn how to use footwork and body positioning in order to maximize leverage to your advantage. 

  • Titan Muay Thai Club, 1069 St. Clair Avenue West, (647-528-5675) Muay Thai is a striking art also known as the science of eight limbs- using hands, feet, elbows, knees and clinch grappling. Muay Thai focuses on offensive and defensive training while conditioning your strength and stamina.

  • Joseph J. Piccininni Community Recreation Centre located west from Wychwood on St. Clair Avenue right next to Earlscourt Park, this centre is equipped with a modern 25-metre swimming pool offering various swimming programs and lessons, as well as aqua fitness, leisure swimming, and much more for everyone from preschoolers to older adults. Their B facility Health Club has all-new cardio, muscular strength, and free weight equipment.

  • The Humewood Day Care Centre is a non-profit organization located in the building of the Humewood Community School at 15 Cherrywood Ave, providing many programs and services to the local community. When you are looking for a variety of free-time activities from arts and music to fitness, the multi-level facility of the Fairbank Memorial Community Recreation Centre is a good place to start. Home to the Fairbank outdoor swimming pool, the facility consists of a baby pool, a large pool, and an eating area. It has a pool capacity of 270 people. Surrounding the building, there is a large park with a playground, an open athletic field well suited for sports like rugby or soccer, and baseball, basketball, and bocce courts. The York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors runs many recreational and social programs for older adults of the community.

  • The Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre that resides at 341 Oakwood Avenue. Besides its large library space, the centre has a state-of-the-art theatre providing performing and exhibition space for local artists, special events, and film nights. Because we Canadians simply love hockey, there is often more than one indoor arena in each neighbourhood for practice. The Larry Grossman Forest Hill Memorial Arena on Chaplin Crescent has undergone many renovations and improvements since its first year of operation in 1960. Along with the two large artificial ice rinks, you can get some professional equipment from its pro shop to get ready for a friendly game.

    Fitness:

Arts & Entertainment

Salsa on St. Clair is Canada’s largest Latino-themed festival celebrating Latin culture with pulsating music, passionate dancing, fiery foods and an interactive Soccer Pavilion where participants can test their soccer skills. It has attracted over 1 million salsa lovers to the streets of Toronto since its launch in 2005 and transforms St Clair Avenue into a showcase of Latin life.

St. Clair Artwalk is an annual community arts festival referred to as the St Clair Arts Festival and Studio Tour celebrating diversity and cultural heritage through the arts. It engages, inspires and transforms the community through inclusive, creative alliances amongst local businesses, artists, volunteers and neighbours. Since 2004, attendance at Artwalk has grown to over 2,000 participants. Over 150 talented people including musicians, visual and literary artists participate in this event.

Ontario School of Ballet established in 1979, OSB offers dance classes in jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop and more at a conveniently located Toronto dance studio at St Clair and Dufferin.

Artscape Wychwood Barns This new community centre is surrounded by lovely green areas that include a beach volleyball court, a natural ice rink, a greenhouse, a fenced in off-leash dog area, a playground, picnic and chess tables, and paths, some of which trace the former streetcar tracks. With a stage in the area, the multifaceted meeting point provides many activities and is home to various seasonal festivals for the local community. The Saturday farmer’s market is highly popular delivering fresh produce, specialty items, baked goods, cheeses, jams making it a one stop shop for all kinds of cravings.

Shopping

 Women’s Fashion 

Glenholme Pharmacy, 896 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 656-8881

Restaurants & Eateries

Booyah Ice Cream, 16A Vaughan Road, (647) 347-2001

Dutch Dreams, 36 Vaughan Road, (416) 656-6959

Leah’s Bakery, 621 St. Clair West, (416) 785-4711 ‎ 

Sea Witch Fish and Chips, 636 St. Clair Avenue West, (647)349 4824

Cocoa Latte, 671 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 792-8696

Pizza and Pazzi, 672 St Clair Avenue West, (647) 748-7882

Rionexi, 672 St. Clair Avenue West, (647) 748-7884

Churrasco Villa, 679 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-0652

Mezzetta Restaurant & Tapas Bar‎, 681 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-5687
Vanis, 682 St Clair Avenue West, (416) 651-7555

Baker and Scone, 693 St. Clair Avenue West, (416)657-2663 

The Stockyards‎, 699 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-9666

Kurtis Coffee, 284 Rushton Road, (416) 505-5244

Dave's...on St Clair, 730 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 657-3283

Pain Perdu Patisserie ,736 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 656-7246

The Rushton, 740 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-7874

Nama Sushi, 750 St Clair Avenue West, (416) 652-0711

Pukka Indian Cuisine, 778 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 342-1906

The Pipers Pub & Grill, 780  St. Clair Avenue West (647) 748-6800  

Zaza Espresso Bar, 777 St. Clair Avenue West, 

Nodo Restaurant, 794 St. Clair Avenue West, (647) 748-1559

Stazione Restaurant, 820 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 656-4817

Mi Tierra, 828 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 654-8886 (Columbian)
Barista & Chef, 1006 St. Clair Avenue West, (647) 344-1216 

Big Slice, 1154 St Clair Ave West, (416) 651-7777

After Dark

Ferro Bar and Cafe, 769 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 654-9119
Dave's...on St Clair, 730 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 657-3283
Rushton Restaurant, 740 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-7874

Education

Schools:

HUMEWOOD

Humewood Community School, 15 Cherrywood Avenue, (416) 394-2383
Cedarvale Community School, 145 Ava Road, (416) 394-2244
J.R. Wilcox Community School, 231 Ava Road, (416) 394-2388
Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, 730 Eglinton Avenue, (416) 393-1860

Oakwood Collegiate Institute, 991 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 393-1780

This public secondary school has celebrated its 100th anniversary of academic excellence in May 2008. Notable alumni of this school include names such as TV star Patrick Watson, producer Bob Ezrin or Jane Bunnett. The school has many excellent curricular programs in Academics, Athletics and The Arts.

Vaughan Road Collegiate, 529 Vaughan Road, (416) 394-3222

The Vaughan Road Collegiate is one of the few schools in town that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program for free since 1998. Students can attend the IB program in grades 11 and 12 and after earning the IB Diploma they also earn the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (O.S.S.D.). If you decide to enroll your children for this course, you significantly increase their chances to get accepted into universities around the world, as this is an internationally recognised Diploma.

St. Michael’s College School, 1515 Bathurst Street, (416) 653-3180

St. Michael’s is a private all-boys Catholic school that is known for its academic and athletic achievements. Its football and hockey programs are renowed for producing many great players now in the Hockey Hall of Fame such as Bobby Bauer, Gerry Cheevers, Tim Horton, Dave Keon, Ted Lindsay, Frank Mahovlich and Joe Primeau. The legendary hockey team St. Michael’s Mojors can practise at school’s own ice rink.

HILLCREST

McMurrich Jr. Public School, 115 Winona Drive, (416) 393-1770
Winona Drive Sr. Public School, 101 Winona Drive, (416) 393-1680
Hillcrest Jr. Public School, 44 Hilton Avenue, (416) 393-9770
St. Alphonsus Catholic School, 60 Atlas Avenue, (416) 393-5326
St. Clair Catholic School, 124 Northcliffe Blvd, (416) 393-5214

Nearby Libraries:

Oakwood Village Library, 341 Oakwood Avenue, (416) 394-1040.
Maria Shchuka Library, 1745 Eglinton Avenue, (416) 394-1000.
Wychwood Public Library, 1431 Bathurst Street, (416) 393-7683.
St. Clair/Dufferin Public Library, 1625 Dufferin Street, (416) 393-7712
Forest Hill Public Library, 700 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 393-7706

Transportation

The Hillcrest Complex

The TTC’s Transit Control Centre and all the maintenance work that is ever required for the public transport vehicles (including overhauls, repairs, and repainting) is done from the Hillcrest Complex located at 1138 Bathurst Street. The complex has long served as one of the main facilities for streetcar and bus garages, maintenance shops, and offices.

By Car: For car owners, Downtown Toronto is just minutes away, and the Allen Expressway providing quick access to Highway 401 for commuters can be reached in about 15 minutes.

By Bus: There are regular bus services along Oakwood Avenue, Bathurst Street, and Vaughan Road that bring you directly to Bathurst Station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The Eglinton Avenue Road West buses connect to Eglinton West Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line and other buses bring you th St Clair West Subway station.

By Streetcar: Streetcars run regular service all along St. Clair Avenue West.

By Subway: Good access to public transportation is provided by two local subway stations: Eglinton West and St. Clair West.

2 Responses to Hillcrest Village

  1. Hello there! I am wondering if we could be included in your list of Sports and Recreation facilites. We service your Wychwood and Humewood areas, and would love to be included in the list. I’d be happy to have someone visit and try a class with us so you know all about our wonderful facility and expert teachers. Best, Julia

    Reply

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