HISTORY OF FOREST HILL
Forest Hill was incorporated as a village in 1923. It was named after the summer residence of John Wickson, built in 1860, at the junction of Eglinton Avenue and Old Forest Hill Road. The hill is still there, but the forest is long since gone, having been replaced by apartment buildings.
Prior to its incorporation, Forest Hill had been known as “Spadina Heights”.
Spadina is a derivative of the First Nations word “Ishapadenah”, which means a hill or sudden rise in land. The boundaries of the present day neighbourhood are shaped from the old Spadina Heights school district.
“Lower Forest Hill”, south of Eglinton, was completely developed by the 1930’s. “Upper Forest Hill” was slower to develop due to the fact it had previously been occupied by the old Belt Line railway, and then by industry.In 1967, Forest Hill Village joined Swansea Village as one of the last two independent villages to be annexed by the City of Toronto.
FOREST HILL OVERVIEW
The Forest Hill neighbourhood is one of Toronto’s most prestigious districts. The mansions in Lower Forest Hill are rivalled only by those found in Rosedale. Forest Hill’s schools are among the best in the country. They include two of Canada’s most revered private schools: Upper Canada College for boys, and Bishop Strachan School for girls.
Forest Hill is one of Toronto’s prettier districts. Its topography is very diverse with gently sloping hills, winding roads, and numerous little parkettes all adding charm to the neighbourhood.
HOMES IN FOREST HILL
Forest Hill’s old building codes and bylaws, dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s, required that all Forest Hill houses be designed by an architect, and that a tree be planted at the front of each property. This foresight by Village planners has left a legacy of beauty in the brick and stone mansions, and majestic trees that grace the streets of Lower Forest Hill.
The Upper Village houses were built mostly in the 1940’s and 1950’s. These houses are more modest than their Lower Village counterparts, however the lot sizes are comparable between the two districts.
Forest Hill also contains a fair number of luxury condominium apartment buildings, located west of Spadina on Lonsdale Road and Heath Street West.
SCHOOLS IN THE FOREST HILL AREA
(P) Forest Hill Jr. & Sr., 78 Dunloe Road, (416) 393-9335
(P) Alternative Primary Jr., 1100 Spadina Road, (416) 393-9199
(P) North Preparatory Jr., 1100 Spadina Road, (416) 393-9230
(P) West Preparatory Jr., 70 Ridge Hill Drive, (416) 393-1633
(PH) Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, 730 Eglinton Avenue W., (416) 393-1860
(PR) Bishop Strachan School, 298 Lonsdale Road, (416) 483-4325
(PR) Upper Canada College, Upper School, 200 Lonsdale Road, (416) 488-1125
(PR) Upper CanadaCollege, Prep School, 220 Lonsdale Road, (416) 488-1125
(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 FOREST HILL
The Forest Hill Village shopping district is centred around the intersection of Spadina Road and Lonsdale Road. The ambience of this private enclave of stores is that of a small town rather than a big city.
The Village’s boutiques and shops cater to the specific needs of Forest Hill’s affluent residents.
The Eglinton West Village shopping district has a large variety of stores to suit every taste and budget. This street also contains many fine restaurants and food stores.
RECREATION IN FOREST HILL
The Belt Line fitness and nature trail follows the route of the former Belt Line railway, which was Toronto’s first commuter train. This fourteen and one-half kilometre track passes through Forest Hill on its way down to Rosedale. The Belt Line Path is enjoyed by both nature and fitness enthusiasts.
Forest Hill’s Public Library has a myriad of programs for adults, children, and preschoolers.
TRANSPORTATION IN FOREST HILL
Forest Hill is conveniently located within walking distance of numerous bus routes that connect passengers to Toronto’s rapid transit subway lines.
For motorists commuting in and out of the city, the Allen Expressway is easily accessed from Eglinton Avenue West.
PARKS AND GREENSPACES IN THE FOREST HILL AREA
Forest Hill Road Park – 179 Forest Hill Road
A park near Eglinton Avenue West and Avenue Road featuring a children’s playground.
Oriole Park – 201 Oriole Parkway
Wrapped around Rosehill Reservoir is David Balfour Park that features a surfaced path that’s ideal for walking, jogging and cycling. This well treed park has a large children’s playground. Sign markers on the east side of the park indicate access points to the Vale of Avoca Ravine which includes a hiking trail that follows the path of an adjacent meandering creek. The urban forest and all the nature it nurtures is remarkably vibrant, and a pleasant surprise given the proximity to such a well established urban area.
Cedarvale Park – 443 Arlington Avenue
Cedarvale Park (originally known as Cedar Vale) is a park located inToronto, Ontario, Canada. It is bordered by very steep hills, and is located in the Cedarvale neighbourhood of Toronto. The Spadina subway line tunnels underneath it, between St. Clair West and Eglinton West stations. The north end of the park contains the Phil White (Cedarvale) Arena and The Leo Baeck Day School, formerly Arlington Middle School. It is commonly used for dog walkers and students returning from the nearby school and the large open fields are heavily used by the community for everything from cricket games to flying kites.
South of the fields, the park angles southeast, and becomes more of a deep, naturalized ravine with steep sides, with a heavily-used footpath down the middle. Cedarvale ravine contains very sizable wetlands east of Bathurst Street in Forest Hill; the remainder of the natural portion is young regrowth forest (the ravine was largely clearcut during the construction of the Spadina Subway in the 1970s). The path is heavily used and remains passable even in winter, with foot traffic packing snow down despite the lack of plowing, especially after drainage works in 2006 fixed water pooling and subsequent ice buildup.
The park benefits from its proximity to the Beltline trail in the north and the Nordheimer Ravine to the south; these join together to form a large trail system through midtown Toronto.
Sir Winston Churchill Park – 301 Saint Clair Avenue West
Sir Winston Churchill Park is located at the south-east corner of Spadina Road and St.Clair Avenue. This park has ten floodlit tennis courts, a children’s playground, and a popular makeshift running path that skirts the perimeter of the park.
Eglinton Park – 200 Eglinton Ave W
This 9 hectare park on Eglinton Avenue West just west of Yonge Street features 5 multi-purpose sports fields, 4 tennis courts, 2 ball diamonds, a children’s playground and a wading pool. In the winter months there are two artificial ice rinks. Eglinton Park wading pool is the centrepiece of a remarkable play area. Adjacent to the wading pool is the large playground, several soccer fields, baseball/softball diamonds, and public bathrooms. Free parking can be found on the side streets or for a small nominal fee there is ample parking underground located at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre. The wading pool is a short walk away.
Wychwood Barns Park – 76 Wychwood Avenue
This location is the park area that surrounds the former Toronto Transit Commission Barns on three sides. Park features include a children’s play area, an open sports field with a natural ice rink in winter, a fenced in off-leash dog area, a beach volley ball court and picnic tables. In addition, approximately 150 trees, 1,500 shrubs and 900 perennials and grasses have been planted. There are circulation paths in the park aligned with the surrounding streets, such as Helena between Wychwood and Christie on the east-west axis and Slade on the north-south axis, as well as meandering paths, some of which follow the former streetcar tracks. The layout is intended to complement and create as few barriers as possible, both physical and conceptual, between the park and the buildings and between indoor and outdoor.
LIBRARIES IN THE FOREST HILL AREA
- Forest Hill Library – 700 Eglinton Avenue West, (416) 393-7706
- Toronto Public Library – (416) 393-7610
- Mount Pleasant Branch Library – 599 Mount Pleasant Road. (416) 393-7737
- Deer Park Library – 40 Saint Clair Avenue East, (416) 393-7657
- Davenport Library – 1246 Shaw Street, (416) 393-7732
- Toronto Public Library – 341 Oakwood Avenue, (416) 394-1040