HISTORY OF BRIDLE PATH
The Bridle Path could hardly have been envisioned by Alexander Milne, who settled on what is now Edwards Gardens in 1827. Milne operated woolen and saw mills on the banks of Wilket Creek until 1832 when a dwindling water supply forced Milne to move east to a mill site along the Don River.
The Bridle Path inconspicuously spent the rest of the 1800’s and early 1900’s as farmland. It wasn’t until 1929, when the Bayview Bridge was built over the steep Don River Valley, that this area was considered for residential development.
Hubert Daniel Bull Page, a Toronto-based land developer was one of the founders of the present day neighbourhood. Page envisioned the Bridle Path as an exclusive enclave of estate homes. In 1929, Page built the Cape Cod Colonial style house at number 2 The Bridle Path, in an effort to spark interest in his subdivision.
Early plans for this neighbourhood called for an elaborate system of equestrian Bridle Paths. These Bridle Paths have long since been paved over, however their legacy remains in the Bridle Path’s unusually wide streets and in the name of this neighbourhood.
BRIDLE PATH OVERVIEW
The Bridle Path has often been referred to as “Millionaires Row”. Indeed most of the houses in this neighbourhood sell for well in excess of a million dollars. This exclusive enclave of homes is surrounded by the Don River Valley and lush parkland, which provide the perfect backdrop for The Bridle Path’s stately homes.
Bridle Path residents shop, play, and educate their children along Bayview Avenue, whose landmarks include the upscale York Mills Shopping Plaza, the posh Toronto Granite Club, and the private Crescent School for boys. The Toronto French School is located just off of Bayview at Lawrence Avenue.
BRIDLE PATH HOMES
The Bridle Path’s largest mansions located between Post Road and Park Lane Circle are among the largest homes in Toronto. These grand homes are situated on one to six acre lots and feature stone and cast iron gateways with elaborate built-in security systems. The houses south of Park Lane Circle are somewhat smaller in scale with still very generous one hundred foot frontages.
The houses in the Bridle Path were built mostly in the 1930’s, 1950’s and 1960’s which accounts for the eclectic mix of architectural styles found here. This mix of designs includes Georgian, Colonial, Greek and Tudor Revival, Italianate, Neo Gothic, California bungalows and futuristic modernist style houses. There is also a new luxury condominium apartment building scheduled to be built at number one Post Road, in the French Chateau style.
The typical Bridle Path estate offers a wide range of luxury features, ranging from pools, tennis courts, gazebos and cabanas, to greenhouses and waterfalls. Interior features range from gold fixtures and marble finishes to dance floors, saunas, personal gyms, and home theatres.
The French Chateau inspired luxury condominium at One Post Road is an exclusive building with only 42 units, all with private elevator access. Also noteworthy are the European-design Chedington Place Condominiums situated on the north-east corner of Bayview and Lawrence Avenues. These exclusive condominiums also feature private elevators and spectacular ravine views.
SCHOOLS IN BRIDLE PATH
(P) Rippleton Public School, 21 Rippleton Road, (416) 395-2810
(PH) York Mills C.I., 490 York Mills Road, (416) 395-3340
(CA) St. Bonaventure, 1340 Leslie Street, (416) 393-5263
(PR) Crescent School, 2365 Bayview Avenue, (416) 449-2556
(PR) Toronto French School, 296 Lawrence Avenue East, (416) 484-6533
(PR) Crestwood School, 411 Lawrence Avenue, (416) 444-5858
(PR) Bayview Glen, 275 Duncan
(P) Public School, (PH) Public High School, (CA) Catholic School, (PR) Private School, (PC) Private Catholic School, (PJ) Private Jewish School, (C) College, (U) University
LIFESTYLE IN BRIDLE PATH
York Mills Plaza, located at the south-west corner of Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road was once described by Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman as the Tiffany’s of shopping centres. Here you will find vintage wines, imported cigars, swiss chocolate, decadent desserts, Cartier eyeglasses, designer lingerie, and a glittering coffee shop serving up espresso, cappuccino, and caffe lattes.
Situated at the north-east corner of Bayview and Sheppard Avenues is the Bayview Village Shopping Centre which features designer clothing stores and an excellent selection of restaurants.
RECREATION IN BRIDLE PATH
Bridle Path residents can walk to beautiful Edwards Gardens which is the home of the Toronto Botanical Garden , one of Canada’s finest public gardening resource centres. Edwards Gardens contains rockeries, perennial gardens, a pond, waterfalls, a rose garden and the beginning of a nine kilometre paved trail that extends through the Don River Valley all the way to Warden Woods Park in Scarborough.
The Edwards Gardens trail passes through Sunnybrook Park which features top quality sports fields for cricket, field hockey, rugby and soccer. Sunnybrook park also has riding stables which offers lessons to the public. It is appropriate that these equestrian facilities are located on the border of the Bridal Path neighbourhood which has such a rich horse riding tradition.
TRANSPORTATION IN BRIDLE PATH
The Bayview Avenue bus connects passengers to the Davisville station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line and also provides passengers with a connecting route to the Lawrence Avenue subway station.
Motorists can get directly downtown to Toronto’s business and entertainment districts in approximately twenty minutes from nearby arterial roadways including Mount Pleasant Road and Yonge Street. The Highway 401 on-ramp off Bayview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway on-ramp off Lawrence Avenue, are both approximately a five minute drive from here.
PARKS AND GREENSPACES IN THE BRIDLE PATH AREA
Edwards Gardens – 777 Lawrence Avenue East
Edwards Gardens sits adjacent to the Toronto Botanical Garden. This former estate garden features perennials and roses on the uplands and wildflowers, rhododendrons and an extensive rockery in the valley. On the upper level of the valley there is also a lovely arboretum beside the children’s Teaching Garden.
Sunnybrook Park – 1132 Leslie St.
Sunnybrook Farm was once the 154-hectare estate of Joseph Kilgour, a local manufacturer of paper products who fancied himself an English country gent. The houses that can be seen throughout the park belonged to Kilgour’s rambling farm and stable complex: one was for the staff of the cattle barn (featuring a handy ensuite abattoir), another housed the facility’s general manager, and a third belonged to the groundskeeper and overseer of the hounds (English-style hunts being de rigueur for ersatz lords of the manor in those days). Today, all of the buildings are leased from the city and occupied by staff of the Sunnybrook Stables, who carry on the site’s traditions.
Today, Sunnybrook Park is open to the public year-round and is visited by many people who like to enjoy the outdoors or may just be looking for a quiet place to relax.
In the summer, visitors often gather to host a barbeque or to do some horseback riding at the stables deep within the park. During the winter, kids can be seen tobogganing on the hillside just as you enter the park.
LIBRARIES IN THE BRIDLE PATH AREA
- Don Mills Library – 888 Lawrence Avenue East, (416) 395-5710
- Toronto Public Library – 3083 Yonge Street, (416) 393-7730