The Kingsway is a visionary neighbourhood first planned by Robert Home Smith in the early 1900s. Many of the homes in this idyllic setting provide an excellent architectural style of the era including stone exteriors, and half-timber designs on streets lined with majestic trees. Many of the first residents were mining execs and businessmen who knew Home Smith personally. He was truly successful in his lofty ideal to establish an English style garden suburb of the highest integrity and beauty: "a little bit of England far from England".
Today The Kingsway is the premier neighbourhood in Toronto's west end, nestled in the idyllic forest setting of the Humber River Valley. This well planned community was designed for families. The houses and properties are a good size, the streets are pedestrian friendly, and the schools, shopping, churches, and recreation are all within walking distance. The Kingsway streets are lined with stately oak and maple trees that provide the perfect backdrop for the stately homes that grace this neighbourhood. A few lucky residents have a beautiful, protected view of the Humber River from their kitchen windows!
The centre medians along Bloor Street in the Kingsway are truly unique with lighted trees, distinctive flags and beautiful flowers. Wrought iron benches, waste receptacles and coach lanterns add a decorative flair to the area, as do the distinct flags and banners and graceful flower gardens. The Coach Lantern Logos adorning the hydro poles help light the night sky and provide a warm ambiance, welcoming visitors to the Kingsway.
The annual Taste of The Kingsway Festival, held in September along Bloor Street West (from Prince Edward Drive to Montgomery Road), is a food and entertainment extravaganza with plenty of fun activities for everybody. Over 30 Kingsway restaurants serve delicious samples of International cuisines, beer and wine. There is a fashion show, a dog show, a boxing ring, Harvest Market, artisans and crafters pavilions, clowns, a midway and face painters for the children, merchant demonstrations, community exhibits, featured performers, and much more. The very active Business Improvement Area is committed to bringing these types of events to the community, and its latest program provides matching funds towards the redesign, renovation or restoration of commercial building facades to improve their appearance and the streetscapes – hence, a more welcoming environment to work, shop and live.
The Kingsway houses located between Kingsway Crescent and Royal York Road, and from Bloor Street north to Kings Garden Road were developed as part of a separate plan of subdivision called "Kingsway Park". These houses include some of the finest examples of Old English classical and vernacular architecture in Toronto. Many homes in The Kingway feature handsome stone exteriors, intricate tapestry brick patterns, and elaborate stucco and half timbering designs. These homes also feature solid oak doors, leaded glass windows, fanciful bay and oriel windows, and decorative wrought iron railings and porch lamps. The Kingsway's oldest houses, some excellent examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, are located along Government Road near Dundas Street. The area bursts forth at Christmastime with some of the most flamboyantly competitive lighting displays seen anywhere in the city.
The Kingsway boasts many fine public schools including:
- Lambton Kingsway Jr. & Md. School
- Warren Park Jr. School
- Sunnylea Jr. School
- Humbercrest Public School
- Islington Jr. Md. School
- Etobicoke Collegiate Institute
- Runnymede Collegiate Institute
- Western Technical-Commercial School
- Etobicoke School of the Arts
- Humberside Collegiate Institute
- Richview Collegiate Institute
The gentrified Kingsway Village shopping district on Bloor Street West has an excellent mix of small specialty shops, chain stores, restaurants and professional and medical services. The village theme for this shopping district is a natural extension of the neighbourhood.
Dundas Street West at the north end of the Kingsway is a more casual version of the aforementioned Kingsway Village shopping district. Most of the shopping here is located in strip plazas and includes a number of home furnishing/design and landscaping shops. There are also some interesting hobby and craft stores, an antique store and an art gallery. The Kingsway Mills outdoor shopping plaza at 4242 Dundas Street West is a collection of small chain stores, specialty shops, and a fine food store.
There is an abundance of green spaces in the neighbourhood. Central Park located off Islington south of Dundas, is the home of the Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club which includes two bowling greens, and also has tennis courts and a large baseball diamond. Home Smith Park accessed off Dundas Street follows the Humber River and is part of a 10 kilometre paved trail that links cyclists, in-line skaters, walkers, and joggers to the Martin Goodman Trail on Toronto's waterfront. Other easily accessed parks and green spaces include:
- St Georges Golf & Country Club
- Islington Golf & Country Club
- Tom Riley Park
- Lambton Golf & Country Club
- Smythe Park
- James Gardens
- Magwood Park
- Etienne Brule Park
The Kingsway residents enjoy easy access to numerous libraries serving Toronto's west end, including the Richview branch at 1806 Islington, the HumberBay at 200 Parklawn, and Eatonville at 430 Burnhamthorpe. Recreation enthusiasts will appreciate programming in the area's community & rec centres:
- The Etobicoke Memorial Pool and Health Club, 44 Montgomery Road offers a myriad of aerobic and aqua fit programs for adults. Next door to the pool and health club is the Central Arena at 50 Montgomery Road which offers public skating and organized ice and ball hockey leagues for children and adults.
- Centennial Park Arena, 56 Centennial Park Rd
- Lambton-Kingsway Indoor Swimming Pool, 37 Marquis
- Norseman Swimming Pool, 105 Norseman
- Olympium Swimming Pool, 590 Rathburn
Most Kingsway residents can walk to either the Royal York or Islington subway stations on Bloor Street. These stations are part of the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The Islington station is also a connecting route for the Mississauga Transit system as well as providing an express bus service to Pearson International airport. Motorists are approximately twenty minutes from downtown Toronto's business and entertainment districts via either Bloor Street, or Lakeshore Boulevard. The airport is approximately a ten minute drive from The Kingsway.