HISTORY OF WATERFRONT TORONTO
Toronto’s waterfront was created from landfill in the early 1800’s. It quickly developed into a tangled web of industry that included shipping facilities, warehouses, railway tracks, grain silos, and factories, all dotting the shoreline. Unfortunately, these physical barriers cut Harbourfront off from the rest of Toronto.
It wasn’t until 1972, with the creation of the federally sponsored Harbourfront Corporation, that Toronto citizens began to reclaim their waterfront.
Harbourfront has been undergoing a renaissance ever since.
A shining example of Harbourfront’s transformation is the Queens Quay Terminal. This building was one of the largest warehouses in North America when it opened in 1927. The Terminal was remodelled in 1980, and today includes a successful mix of high end residential, commercial, and retail space all under one roof.
Harbourfront also serves as Toronto’s playground by the lake. It is enjoyed by all Toronto residents, as well as being a popular destination point for tourists.
The Harbourfront neighbourhood incorporates a unique blend of residential, cultural, recreational, and commercial uses, all within the same community.
HOMES IN WATERFRONT TORONTO
Harbourfront has the highest concentration of luxury condominium apartment buildings in the City of Toronto. Most of Harbourfront’s condominiums were built in the 1980’s.
At present, a number of new condominiums are being built with an emphasis on making sure every unit has at least a partial lake view and a balcony.
Harbourfront also has a handful of Marinas that provide seasonal moorings on a rental basis for local and out of town boaters. Many of these hearty souls make Harbourfront their summer home.
LIFESTYLE IN WATERFRONT TORONTO
Harbourfront’s main shopping district is located along Queens Quay West.
The shopping here is mixed, being geared towards both the local residents and tourists. Queens Quay West is anchored by the Queens Quay Terminal, located at the foot of York Street. The terminal is open seven days a week, and features two floors of shops, galleries, and restaurants.
The Harbourfront is conveniently located within walking distance of the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto’s oldest and largest food market.
The St. Lawrence Market offers a cornucopia of culinary delights, including farm fresh eggs, exotic herbs, organic chicken, and an assortment of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, deli meats, and seafood.
A recent addition to Toronto’s Harbourfront is the giant Loblaws food and retail centre located on Queens Quay at the foot of Jarvis Street. In addition to groceries and a pharmacy this three storey complex features a variety of retailers, a popular restaurant, and a community meeting place were workshops, cooking classes and public meetings are held.
RECREATION IN WATERFRONT TORONTO
Harbourfront has more recreational opportunities than any other Toronto neighbourhood.
The vast Harbourfront Centre lines an expansive area of our waterfront, offering visitors a multitude of ways to spend a memorable day by the Lake. In the winter the Natrel Rink is home to learn to skate lessons, recreational skate and even DJ Skate night parties. The March and Summer camp offers children 45 diverse mini camps with everything from cooking, circus and sports, to sailing, kayaking and digital photography. Summer in the city could be the best choice yet, with a chance for your children to enjoy these reasonable, educational and fun-filled programs.
Sail and motor boat rentals and short or long term Sailing Club memberships, are available at a surprisingly affordable rate. In addition the Harbourfront Centre is home to many theatrical events, with artists in residence and unique art exhibits all open to the public.
The Air Canada Centre, Skydome, C.N. Tower, and the Harbourfront Antique Market are all located within this neighbourhood. The Canadian National Exhibition, the Marine Museum, and Old Fort York are all just minutes from Harbourfront, while the Toronto Islands are ten minutes away by ferry boat.
The social, cultural, and recreational hub of the neighbourhood is the Harbourfront Centre, located at the York Quay at 235 Queens Quay West. This popular lakeside venue hosts close to 4,000 events per year, ranging from craft workshops and sailing lessons to jazz festivals and food fairs.
SCHOOLS IN THE WATERFRONT TORONTO AREA
(P) The Waterfront School Jr. & Sr., 635 Queens Quay West, (416) 393-0684
(PH) Jarvis Collegiate Institute, 495 Jarvis Street, (416) 393-0140
(PH) Central Technical School, 725 Bathurst Street, (416) 393-0060
(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
PARKS AND GREENSPACES IN THE HARBOURFRONT AREA:
Toronto Music Garden – 479 Queens Quay W
The Toronto Music Garden is a City of Toronto park, located at 475 Queen’s Quay West on the waterfront between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue.
The Toronto Music Garden can be appreciated on many levels – as a garden infused with the spirit of music, dance and artistic genius, as a public place for young and old alike to enjoy and learn, and as a meditative space to sit and quietly ponder nature. It is a symbol of Toronto’s participation in the international community, and a place for everyone to enjoy.
The Toronto Music Garden is open year-round and there is no admission fee. The Toronto Music Garden is wheelchair-accessible.
HTO Park – 339 Queens Quay West
The urban beach is the focal point of HtO Park. It faces the inner harbour with Toronto islands in the distance. Bright yellow umbrellas populate the white sand providing shade for those relaxing in muskoka chairs.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From the Gardiner Expressway, exit Bay Street southbound, west on Queens Quay. By public transportation from Union subway station, take the Harbourfront LRT streetcar to Queens Quay W and exit off Spadina, or from Spadina subway station, take the streetcar south to Queens Quay.
Ann Tindal Park – 235 Queen’s Quay West
Roundhouse Park – 255 Bremner Boulevard
Roundhouse Park was created in 1997 on top of the southern expansion of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The park features the original, fully restored and operational 120-foot long locomotive turntable and a carefully chosen collection of full-sized railway equipment. It is home to the Toronto Railway Historical Association live steam miniature railway and other outdoor exhibits illustrating Toronto’s railway heritage. Exhibits include the original 60,000-gallon water tower, the 650-ton concrete locomotive coaling tower and a collection of historic buildings, including the Don Station and Cabin D.
Bobbie Rosenfeld Park – 280 Bremner Boulevard
Bobbie Rosenfeld Park is located between the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre. It’s a small open space with a beautiful ornamental fountain and is a great spot to wait for friends before heading to the ball game. This park is named after Franny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld, one of Canada’s most famous female athletes of the early 1900’s. She was a celebrated hockey player and excelled at every sport she attempted. During the 1928 Summer Olympics, the first in which women were allowed to compete in Track and Field, she won a gold in the 4 x 100 relay and a silver in the 100 yard dash. In her later years she became a well known sports writer and strong advocate of women in sport. Check out the Toronto Historical Board plaque in her honour, located in the park, for more of Bobbie’s great story.
Harbour Square Park – 25 Queens Quay West
Located next to the Toronto Ferry Docks, Harbour Square Park Lands offer downtown folks a spot to sit and watch the ferries travel back and forth to the island. This park is the perfect spot to sit and wait for your friends before catching the ferry to the island. It’s also a great spot for a picnic lunch in the middle of a long work day.
Ireland Park is located on the shores of Lake Ontario on Éireann Quay, adjoining the Canada Malting Silos, at the foot of Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Officially opened in the summer of 2007, Ireland Park commemorates the tens of thousands who fled Ireland during the Great Famine. In 1847 over 38,000 Irish men, women and children landed on the shores of Toronto, where Ireland Park now stands, fleeing famine and eager to start a new life. Although Toronto only had 20,000 inhabitants, the city welcomed the newcomers with open arms. Over 1,100 new immigrants did not survive to make Canada their new home, with many perishing in fever sheds during the Typhus epidemic of 1847. Ireland Park is a tribute to all the Irish ancestors who came with only hope, for a new life in a promising country.
The park was designed to be an emotional and evocative place calling up long-lost memories of destitute ancestors who arrived from blight ravaged Ireland on our Canadian shore with hopes for a new life in a new land. The park was designed by Toronto Architect Jonathan Kearns, who is an Irish immigrant himself. The park features oak trees, a cylinder of stacked glass that serves as a beacon of hope and five bronze sculptures created by renowned Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie. The sculptures mirror a similar Famine Memorial in Dublin at the Custom House Quays. The figures in Dublin represent The Departure with Toronto’s sculptures being The Arrival.
Little Norway Park – 659 Queens Quay West
A 2.4-hecatare park at Bathurst Street And Queens Quay West that features a ball diamond, a wading pool, a children’s playground and many walking paths through gardens. Its name commemorates the World War II training base, used by the Norwegian Air Force, that once existed on the site.
Clarence Square – 25 Clarence Square
A small downtown park on Spadina Avenue just north of Front Street featuring a mature tree canopy, many park benches and an enclosed dog off leash area.
LIBRARIES IN THE TORONTO WATERFRONT AREA
- Toronto Public Library – 171 St Front E, (416) 393-7655
- The Law Society of Upper Canada GreatLibrary – 130 Queen Street West, (416) 947-3315
- City Hall Library – 100 Queen Street West, (416) 393-7650
- Ryerson University Library and Archives – 350 Victoria Street, (416) 979-5055
- Toronto Public Library – 269 Gerrard St East, (416) 393-7663
- Canadian Music Centre – 20 Saint Joseph St, (416) 961-6601
CHURCHES IN THE TORONTO WATERFRONT AREA
- St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – 73 Simcoe Street, (416) 593-5600
- The St. James Cathedral Centre – 65 Church Street, (416) 364-7865
- Anglican Diocese of Toronto – 135 Adelaide Street East, (416) 363-6021
- Metropolitan United Church – 56 Queen Street East, (416) 363-0331
- Church of the Holy Trinity – 10 Trinity Square, (416) 598-8979
- Toronto Chinese Baptist Church, 78 Beverley Street, (416) 596-8376
- St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 131 McCaul Street, (416) 598-3269
- Little Trinity Anglican Church, 425 King E, (416) 367-0272
- Saint Paul Church, 83 Power Street, (416) 364-7588