Located in the very heart of Toronto, The Annex is undoubtedly one of the city’s premier neighbourhoods. The Annex takes its energy from the University of Toronto and is home to students, several fraternity and sorority houses and faculty members. You can’t escape the college town feel when you are strolling down the streets filled with chic and academic images or admiring one of the many specialty stores or trendy cafes on Bloor Street. Some of the city’s wealthiest residents once lived along Bloor Street, which is now the commercial centre of the Annex, and the former grandeur can still be seen when looking up at the magnificent Romanesque mansions. More than 15,602 people live in this relatively small but highly popular area of Toronto. The energy of the neighbourhood lies in its heterogeneity; its residents form a fine mix of young families, successful business people, prominent artists and hip students from the University of Toronto.
Don’t be surprised to bump into Canada’s movie sweetheart, Rachel McAdams , in one of the trendy cafes — she is one of the many prominent residents who fell in love with the neighbourhood. Other famous names include writer Margaret Atwood , former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson , members of the rock band Sloan , and novelist Ann-Marie McDonald .
- Green Areas at your reach
- Sports and Recreation
- Arts and Entertainment
- Restaurants and Eateries
The traditional boundaries of the original Annex area form almost a perfect rectangle, with their limits extending north to Dupont Street, south to Bloor Street, west to Christie Street, and east to Avenue Road. However, Torontonians themselves often refer to a broader neighbourhood when they speak of The Annex — anywhere from Harbord Street and Dupont Street and between Avenue Road and Christie Street.
The splendour of the architecture found in the Annex is the main reason why the neighbourhood is so high on Torontonians’ wish list of places to live. Breath-taking and monumental in size, some of these gorgeous mansions built in the Victorian , Queen Anne , and Edwardian styles during the early 19th century have been divided into individual apartments. The characteristic look of these houses is created by the use of red bricks, plum and pink sandstone of the local Credit River, and terra cotta clays tiles on the exterior facades, beautifully decorated with architectural details such as pyramidal roofs, turrets, archways, and wooden porches beckoning guests in for a morning cup of coffee.The second wave of Annex homes, built between 1910 and 1930, were some of the finest examples of English Cottage , Georgian , and Tudor architectural styles — many later replaced by a number of high-rise buildings. The new constructions bearing the signature of the architect Uno Prii have been thoughtfully surrounded by green spaces to better blend in with the residential feel of the Annex.
The eastern part of today’s Annex — particularly the south side of Elgin and Lowther (once part of the Village of Yorkville) — has preserved some of its original houses, which still gives it the distinct “small town” appearance. One of the most promising suburbs, it obviously attracted many prominent Torontonians who wasted no time in building their grand mansions to show off their wealth.
Ontario Legislative Building by whitewall buick
Among its elite residents were such big names as Timothy Eaton (of Eatons Department store fame) and George Gooderham (President of Gooderham &Worts Distillery). Thanks to the high style of residency and relatively quiet environment with tree-lined streets, it became one of the principal residential districts of the city. Residents’ loyalty was proven when the Annex Residents Association vigorously opposed the proposed project of the Spadina Expressway , which would have split the Annex in two. The neighbourhood’s Golden Era lasted until the 1920s, when the times brought major changes.
What happened to many inner-city neighbourhoods is that after the World Wars, middle and upper class residents began to move toward new and exclusive suburbs such as Forest Hill, Rosedale, and Lawrence Park. Why? Other suburbs offered significantly more land for building a house than the “crammed” Annex. The widows of soldiers were no longer able to afford their expensive residences, so they started renting out rooms, which soon became a very popular practice. The mansions slowly turned into boarding houses. Moving several student fraternities from the University of Toronto to the core of the neighbourhood on Madison Avenue, Lowther Avenue and St.
A passion for the medieval ages gave the wealthy Sir Henry Mill Pallet the idea to build this impressive castle overlooking the city in 1911. Now owned by the City of Toronto, this magnificent structure is open to the public and is not only one of Toronto’s most popular tourist attractions, but has also been a favourite location of many filmmakers (featured in films such as X-men, Strange Brew, and Chicago). You can have a closer look at the many wonderfully furnished rooms, but probably the best time to visit Casa Loma is during the summer, when you can stroll around its beautiful gardens that spread over five acres of land.
The shoe-box shaped museum takes a closer look at the history of footwear from the earliest known human footprints that date to 4 million B.C. 4 to the latest designer pieces, such as Vivienne Westwood’s shoe line. The impressive collection of 12,500 rare foot-related artifacts from all over the world makes one’s head spin — even the biggest Sex and the City fan will be overwhelmed. This is a perfect spot to go on a cultural day out.
One of Toronto’s many churches, this famous landmark opened its doors to worshippers in 1889. Its tower rises to the impressive height of 115 feet. In the heart of the city, the Trinity St. Paul’s Community runs many activities, from numerous educational programs to dance and yoga classes.
A local oddity, this house is located on Clinton Street and is almost entirely covered with circular “wood cakes” cut from billiards cues.
Green Areas at Your Reach
Whether you want to take your friends out for a picnic or spend the day out, Christie Pits Park, located at 750 Bloor Street West at Christie Street, with its many sporting facilities, is your best shot. Join the crowd cheering to many exciting baseball games organized in the full-sized Dominico Field, or watch the Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball team practice their tricks on one of the three baseball diamonds. Fancy some other sport? You will also find a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a soccer field, and an outdoor pool. A perfect spot in the winter, have some fun sliding down the snowy slopes along the sports pits. The Friends of Christie Pits Park group takes care of the community garden, and together with local volunteers, they organize many events.
Christie Pits Baseball Diamond by Wikimedia Commons
This charming park, located near the centre of Seaton Village, is great for off-leash dog walking. In the west part, there is a small playground with a wading pool, and a little bit further, hockey enthusiasts can put their skates on in the Bill Bolton hockey arena . The St. Albans Boys and Girls Club serves the local community with a wide range of programs for children, including daycare, after-school programs, summer camps, and aquatic lessons.
Ramsden Park is a public park at 1020 Yonge Street, once home to the Yorkville Brick Yards. Ramsden Rink, across from the Rosedale subway station, offers some quality hockey time. Try the ever-popular Two Women’s Shinny Times on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
This beautiful green oasis almost entirely surrounded by the University of Toronto’s St. George campus is one of the oldest urban parks in Canada. It was opened in 1860 in honour of Queen Victoria. If you consider the hot assembly debates going on inside the Ontario Legislative Building in the centre of Queen‘s Park, it is almost unbelievable what a calming atmosphere the park itself offers. Located right downtown and lacking facilities other than picnic tables, this park is the perfect place for a quiet stroll or a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Autumn in Queens Park by Jennifer Smith
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 little less than two 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.
Sports & Recreation
Looking for some quality facilities to support your fitness program? It’s all under the one roof of the Athletic Centre, a multi-functional building operated by The Faculty of Physical Education and Health, located at 55 Harbord Street, on campus. Housing multiple gymnasia and such excellent sport facilities as Toronto’s 50-metre Olympic pool, ten squash courts, and 200-metre indoor track, there is even a sport medicine clinic at hand to make sure you get the best service when in need. Energize yourself at one of the many drop-in recreational activities that range from yoga to zumba to cardio boxing. If you are not a University of Toronto student, become a member and get access to the nearby Varsity Centre and the state of the art Goldring Centre as well. This multi-purpose, 5,000-seat stadium with a state-of-the-art dome for winter use is a sporting facility like no other and home to the Varsity Blues Football Team .
Located in the the south-east corner of Spadina Road and St. Clair Avenue West, this club functions on a non-profit basis and promotes an interest in tennis within the community. When you want to enjoy a good game of tennis any time you feel like it, it’s a good idea to become a club member to avoid the Sunday rush, when the club opens to the public. A great way to test your skills is to enroll in the annual House League, where you can enjoy some friendly competitive doubles play and challenge yourself.
Established in 1852 as the Toronto Boat Club, after earning the right to call itself "Royal“ and adopting the current name, today it’s the most popular social sailing club that brings together all people with a passion for sailing. The RCYC operates from two facilities: the summer home of Island Clubhouse in Toronto’s harbour and the downtown-located City Club facilities based on St. George Street.
This non-profit organization provides a gathering place for Native people and offers a variety of programs for the local community. When you are particularly interested in the Native traditions, follow the many educational programs or special events that give you a glimpse of Canada‘s fascinating Native culture. The most popular activities are the Flea Markets and Craft Sales or The Full Moon Ceremony performed by Anishinaabe Women.
Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre , 750 Spadina Avenue
Trinity St. Paul’s Centre , 427 Bloor Street West
Lighthouse Community Centre , 1008 Bathurst Street
Scadding Court Community Centre , 707 Dundas Street West
Arts & Entertainment
Whether you need a break from all those blockbusters or simply enjoy the atmosphere of smaller cinemas, The Bloor on 506 Bloor Street should be your first choice. This independent movie theatre shows movies that already left the traditional cinemas or gives you the chance to see the best productions of all time, such as Casablanca and Citizen Kane, on the silver screen. It also takes part in many of the independent film festivals in Toronto, such as the Banff Mountain Film Festival and the Toronto After Dark Film Festival — a showcase of horror, sci-fi, action, and cult cinema. If you happen to be in Toronto in January, make sure you give The Monday Madness B-Movie Film Festival a chance!
With the 40 years of its existence with more than 170 premiered plays, the Tarragon Theatre still maintains a top spot among the cultural spaces in Toronto. The theatre shows both classical and contemporary plays from all over the country. During the annual Spring Arts Festival, it opens its intimate spaces to more than a hundred free shows and readings, with many writing talents discovered every year.
Do you enjoy a good stand-up comedy? The Toronto Fringe Festival takes on the idea of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival , which was founded in 1947 to become one of the largest arts festivals. Comedians, performers, and musicians from all over the world, emerging talents, and the big stars — they all climb the stages of local theatres and pubs or entertain their audience in the streets. The festival’s perfect mixture of shows originates in the entrance system: there is no jury — the acts are chosen in a lottery system so that everyone gets an equal chance to be presented. Toronto’s liveliest grassroots festival showcases more than 150 innovative productions each year. Did you know that it was the birthplace of the Tony-award-winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone ? Make sure you write down the dates this summer and make your way to one of the eight main venues conveniently located in the Annex neighbourhood.
Canada’s largest museum of world cultures and natural history is located in Queen’s Park and offers endless hours of walking through the world’s most precious artifacts. The eye-catching Michael Lee-Chin Crystal extension to the museum, unveiled in 2007, was designed by Daniel Libeskind and is made of 25 per cent glass and 75 per cent aluminium on a steel frame. Conveniently matching its modern look, the Institute for Contemporary Culture is located on its fourth floor, hosting the latest art exhibitions.
The Tranzac Club, or the Toronto Australia New Zealand Club, is not only highly praised by the regulars who come here for a bit of their homeland, but with its lively culture scene and a casual atmosphere, it is also definitely a place worth visiting. Its community centre services with a bar were truly a slick combination; the outcome is an exciting venue with program always full of people enjoying quality live music, drama, and comedy nights. Don’t miss out on the weekend’s open jams sessions!
The Bathurst Street Theatre scored its extraordinary location in a former Methodist church as the congregation made the decision to move its meetings to the nearby Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church. This one-of-a-kind, 500-seat theatre is currently home to the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, established in 1992, which offers a post-secondary Triple Threat training program for those interested in a career in the performing arts.
The living laboratory of arts, culture and recreation.
East of the Annex and Yorkville, at Yonge Street, the Panasonic Theatre is a live theatre owned and operated by Mirvish Productions.
Bakka Phoenix Books (Sci-fi&Fantasy) , 84 Harbord Street, (416) 963-9993
Canvas Gallery (Art gallery), 950 Dupont Street, (416) 532-5275
Ewanika (Women's Fashion), 1083 Bathurst Street, (416) 927-9699
G.H.Johnson's Trading Co. (Home furniture), 950 Dupont Street, (416) 532-6700
Labyrinth (Books, Manga, Comics) , 386 Bloor Street West
Nella Cucina (Housewares) , 876 Bathurst Street, (416) 922-9055
Risque (Clothing&Accessories) , 404 Bloor Street West
Secrets From Your Sister (Lingerie), 560 Bloor Street West
Seekers Books (Used Books), 509 Bloor Street West
Skirt (Women's Fashion), 476 Bloor Street West
South Hill Home (High end home furnishings), 200 Dupont Street, (416) 924-7224
Village Market , 580 Bloor Street West
Restaurants and EateriesBoulevard Cafe, 161 Harbord Street Toronto, (416) 961-7676
Ciao Wine Bar (Italian), 133 Yorkville Avenue , (416) 925-2143
Kinka Izakauya (Japanese), 559 Bloor Street West, (647) 343-1101
Harbord House, 150 Harbord Street Toronto, (647) 430-7365
Insomnia Restaurant and Bar , 563 Bloor Street West, (647) 977-6271
Joso’s (Seafood), 202 Davenport Road, (416) 925-1903
Kenzo Japanese Noodle House , 372 Bloor Street West, (416) 921-6787
La Societe , 131 Bloor Street West, (416) 551-9929
Le Paradis Brasserie Bistro (French), 166 Bedford Road, (416) 921-0995
Live Organic Food Bar (Vegan), 264 Dupont Street, (416) 515-2002
Loire French Bistro, 119 Harbord Street Toronto, (416) 850-8330
Mistura , 265 Davenport Road , (416) 515-0009
Opus Restaurant (New American), 37 Prince Arthur Avenue, (416) 921-3105
Real Thailand Restaurant (Thai), 350 Bloor Street West, (416) 924-7444
Rose and Sons (Comfort food), 176 Dupont Street, (647) 748-3287
Splendido Restaurant, 88 Harbord Street Toronto, (416) 929-7788
Sushi on Bloor , 515 Bloor Street West, (416) 516-3456
Trattoria Fieramosca, 36 Prince Arthur Avenue Toronto, (416) 323-0636
Universal Grill, 1071 Shaw Street, (416) 588-5928
After DarkAmber Restaurant & Bar (Plus Outdoor Patio), 119 Yorkville Avenue, (416) 926 9037
Hey Lucy , 440 Bloor Street West (416) 967-9670
Lee’s Palace , 529 Bloor Street West Toronto, (416) 532-1598
Mayday Malone’s , 1078 Bathurst Street, (416) 531-8064
Pauper’s Bar&Grill , 539 Bloor Street West (416) 530-1331
Proof , 220 Bloor Street West (416) 800-3152
The Beer Station , 549 Bloor Street West (416) 535-8965
Madison Pub, 14 Madison Avenue, (416) 927-1722
The Roof Lounge , The Park Hyatt, 4 Avenue Road, (416) 925-1234
CafesAroma , 500 Bloor Street
By The Way Cafe, 400 Bloor Street West
Green Beanery Cafe , 565 Bloor Street West
Gardiner Cafe , 111 Queen’s Park
Second Cup , 537 Bloor Street West
Starbucks , 494 Bloor Street
Tim Hortons , 527 Bloor Street West
Huron Jr. (Public School), 541 Huron Street, (416) 393-1570
Jesse Ketchum Jr.&Sr. (Public School), 61 Davenport Road, (416) 393-1530
Palmerston Jr. (Public School), 734 Palmerston Avenue, (416) 393-9305
Central Technical School (Public High School), 725 Bathurst Street, (416) 393-0060
Loretto College (Separate School), 391 Brunswick Avenue, (416) 393-5511, or South Campus, 783, (416) 393-5543
University of Toronto School (Private School), 371 Bloor Street West, (416) 978-3212
Royal St. Georges College (Private School), 120 Howland Avenue, (416) 533-9481
University of Toronto , St. George Campus, (416) 978-2011
The University of Toronto’s main campus, St. George, spreads out around the Queen’s Park grounds, just a walking distance from the main commercial district of Toronto. Canada’s largest university has proudly educated almost 500,000 alumni to this day and is globally recognized as one of the leaders of scientific research. If you’ve ever wondered where such great inventions as insulin or the electronic pacemaker came from, where scientists worked on stem cell research enabling them to successfully undertake the first lung transplant and create artificial pancreas, or what mastermind identified Cygnus X-1 as a black hole, all the answers lie within this university’s walls. It is no wonder that it frequently receives the highest marks in annual university rankings, such the first place in Canada and 27th worldwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities .
Toronto Public Library , 789 Yonge Street, (416) 393-7131
Spadina Road Public Library , 10 Spadina Road, (416) 393-7666
Toronto Reference Library , 789 Yonge Street, (416) 395-5577
Palmerston Library , 560 Palmerston Avenue, (416) 393-7680
Yorkville Library , 22 Yorkville Road, (416) 393-7660
College/Shaw Library , 766 College Street, (416) 393-7668
EJ Pratt Libary , 71 Queen’s Park Crescent East, (416) 585-4470
By Car: Approximately five minutes within the main business and entertainment districts, commuters will need 25 minutes to get here from the main highways.
By Bus: Bus services operate on Bathurst Street, Dupont Street, and Avenue Road.
By Street Car: The 510 Spadina Streetcar runs from Spadina Station along Spadina to Queen’s Quay in the Harbourfront neighbourhood, along which it runs to Union Station. The 511 Streetcar runs from Exhibition Place in the Harbourfront neighbourhood, along Fleet Street to Bathurst, which it follows to Bathurst Station.