Hillcrest Village is a neighbourhood located in the district of North York at the northernmost tip of the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Hillcrest Village is considered by some to be part of the Don Valley Village, the neighbourhood directly to the south, however it is quite distinct.
Hillcrest Village is home to one of Toronto’s most popular Chinese areas. The top ethnicity in the area if by far Chinese and most recent immigrants to the area continue to arrive from China, Hong Kong and Korea. While there is social housing in the area and a large percentage of residents earning low incomes, many residents earn incomes in the top tax brackets. The 75%+ home ownership rate is another indicator of affluence in the area.
The Don Valley provides an interesting hillside landscape in the East end of the neighbourhood. In conjunction with Duncan Creek and numerous parks the area has some natural splendour to enjoy.
HISTORY OF HILLCREST VILLAGE
Hillcrest was first settled in the 1840’s by Robert John Turner, a reformer from England. The Turner house, named “Bracondale”, stood where Hillcrest Park is today.
By 1884, a small village grew up on the edge of the Turner estate, at the intersection of Christie and Davenport. This settlement became known as Bracondale Village. The Village consisted mostly of farmers and a few stores. Its first postmaster was Frank Turner, the son of Robert Turner.
In 1909, Bracondale Village was annexed by the City of Toronto. Shortly thereafter, Frank Turner’s heirs subdivided the Bracondale estate and turned it into an exclusive subdivision named ” Bracondale Hill Park”.
The Turner family retained ownership of the Bracondale house until 1937, when it was sold to the City and demolished in order to make room for Hillcrest Park.
HOMES IN HILLCREST VILLAGE
The houses at the north end of Hillcrest were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These houses are loaded with turn of the century charm and character, and are a wonderful mix of shapes and sizes.
There is also a pocket of larger detached homes, built between 1910 and 1930, near Hillcrest Park. Some of these dignified residences were built with stone from the original Union Station, which was torn down after World War 1.
SCHOOLS IN THE HILLCREST VILLAGE AREA
(P) Humewood Community School – 15 Cherrywood Avenue York
(P) Hillcrest Community School – 44 Hilton Avenue Toronto
(P) Huron Street Junior Public School – 541 Huron Street
(P) Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School – 734 Palmerston Avenue
(P) Hawthorne II Bilingual Alternative Junior School – 50 Essex Street
(P) Dovercourt Public School – 228 Bartlett Avenue
(P) Regal Road Junior Public School – 95 Regal Road
(P) Rawlinson Community School – 231 Glenholme Avenue York
(P) Winona Drive Senior Public School, 101 Winona Drive
(P) McMurrich Junior Public School – 115 Winona Drive
(PH) Oakwood Collegiate Institute – 991 St Clair Avenue West Toronto
(PH) Vaughan Road Academy – 529 Vaughan Road
(CA) St. Mary of the Angels – 1477 Dufferin St, 416-393-5228
(CA) Loretto College, 151 Rosemount Ave. 416-393-5511
(CA) Stella Maris, 31 Ascot Ave., 416-393-5371
(CA) St. Clare, 124 Northcliffe Blvd., 416-393-5214
(CA) St. Bruno, 402 Melita Cres., 416-393-5376
(CA) St. Alphonsus – 60 Atlas Ave. 416-393-5326
(CA) Holy Rosary – 308 Tweedsmuir Ave., 416-393-5225
(PR) Hudson College – 21 Ascot Avenue Toronto, (416) 631-0082
(PR) St. Michael’s College School – 1515 Bathurst Street Toronto, 416-653-3180
(PR) Royal St. George’s College – 120 Howland Avenue, 416-533-9481
(PR) Waldorf Academy – 250 Madison Avenue, (416) 962-6447
(PR) The Mabin School – 50 Poplar Plains Road, (416) 964-9594
(PR) Arrowsmith School – 245 St. Clair Avenue West (416) 963-4962
(C) GEORGE BROWN Casa Loma Campus – 160 Kendal Avenue, 416-415-2000
(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 HILLCREST VILLAGE
The Hillcrest shopping district located on St. Clair Avenue West features mostly independent retailers that cater to the day-to-day needs of the local community. The small convenience-type stores on Davenport Road, and Vaughan Road, also serve the Hillcrest community. These are mostly independent owner operated stores that provide a personalized and friendly service to the neighbourhood residents.
The Stop Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns located at 601 Christie Street, is considered one of the largest and best farmers market in Toronto. This market is open every Saturday year-round from 8 a.m. to noon.
RECREATION IN HILLCREST VILLAGE
The Hillcrest Community Centre is located in the Hillcrest Public School on Bathurst Street. This facility includes an indoor pool and a gymnasium. Just north of the Hillcrest Community Centre is the Wychwood Public Library, which offers year round programs for the neighbourhood children.
Hillcrest Park, perched atop the Davenport escarpment at the south perimeter of this neighbourhood, offers a spectacular view of the city skyline and Lake Ontario. This park has a wading pool, a children’s playground, and four tennis courts.
Hillcrest residents have been instrumental in donating their time, money and resources to the development of the Artscape Wychwood Barns, which involved the conversion of the historic Wychwood TTC streetcar repair barns on Christie Street south of St. Clair.
Artscape Wychwood Barns is a 60,000 sq. ft. multifaceted community meeting place that encompasses live/work space for artists, as well as seasonal festivals, a farmers market, a greenhouse and a community bake-oven. The park’s greenspace includes a natural ice rink, playing fields, a stage, chess tables, beach volleyball, a water play area and children’s swings and climbers.
TRANSPORTATION IN HILLCREST VILLAGE
Hillcrest is well served by public transit. The streetcar runs along St. Clair Avenue West, while regular bus service runs along Oakwood Avenue and Bathurst Street. Davenport Road also has a limited bus service.
Motorists are just minutes from downtown. It is approximately a fifteen minute drive from this neighbourhood to the Allen Expressway, which connects commuters to Toronto’s major highways.
PARKS AND GREENSPACES IN THE HILLCREST VILLAGE AREA
Frankel Lambert Park – 340 Christie Street
A small linear park running west from Christie Street north of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. The park features a basketball court and a children’s playground.
Hillcrest Park – 950 Davenport Road
A 2.1-hectare park at Davenport Road and Christie Street that features a ball diamond, a dog off-leash park, a basketball court, four lighted outdoor tennis courts, a community garden, a wading pool and a children’s playground. From its perch atop the Davenport escarpment at the south perimeter of the Davenport neighbourhood, Hillcrest Park offers a spectacular view of the city skyline and Lake Ontario. There is street parking around the neighbourhood.
Marian Engel Park – 285 Melita Avenue
Marian Engel Park is home to a playground and wading pool. This facility has street parking around the neighbourhood.
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 environments.
LIBRARIES IN THE HILLCREST VILLAGE AREA
- Hillcrest Library – 5801 Leslie Street, (416) 395-5830
- Steeles Library – 375 Bamburgh Circle, (416) 396-8975
- Bridlewood Library – 2900 Warden Avenue, (416) 396-8960
- Toronto Public Library – Fairview Branch – 35 Fairview Mall Drive, (416) 395-5750
- Pleasant View Library – 575 Van Horne Avenue, (416) 395-5940