The Junction has the feel of a small-town community, only it's nestled less than 10kms away from the downtown core. With quick and easy access to all corners of Toronto via public transit (including the nearby Union Pearson Express Train to take you to a Jays game or the airport) and a highly walkable neighbourhood, it's no wonder so many people are deciding to live down by the train tracks.
The Junction is filled with local shops, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, and artisans located along Dundas, and is conveniently near The Stockyards on St. Clair Avenue, which allows for urbanites to gain access to large big box stores traditionally only found in the suburbs.
It is a rapidly growing Toronto neighbourhood and has become a highly sought-after place to live, so come on by, shop, drink, eat, enjoy - you might want to stay!
The Junction is an area of Toronto that has undergone vast change since its rural roots, and its first owner, John Scarlett. In the 1850s the southeast area was home to the Carlton Race Course, that was owned by the Keele Family. In fact, this track was the site for the inaugural Queen’s Plate. After the railways arrived in the 1880s the neighbourhood was set for some serious change when the area was developed by Daniel Webster Clendenan, who was later elected as the first mayor of the town of Junction in 1889. The area was later amalgamated in 1908 with what was then called the City of West Toronto.
In the period between 1888 and 1890, the Junction became a manufacturing hub housing mills, metal casing factories, furniture assembly, nail and wire factories, as well as meat processing plants including Canada Packers, Canadian Cycle & Motor Co, and the Heintzman piano company. The area appealed to business owners because land, taxes, and hiring labour was less expensive than in Toronto proper.
Unfortunately, between the years 1893 and 1900, the Junction saw significant poverty in the area due to an economic recession. The Long Depression saw the closing of factories and the end to construction in the area, and the municipality could not support its citizens because of a large civic debt.
Pubs and taverns became permanent fixtures in The Junction, as was the case with many railways and factory workers' towns. By 1904, the behaviour of the Junction workers was so out of hand, leading the residents to vote for banning the sale of alcohol until 1998. It was a long and tough fight lead by Vesuvio Pizzeria to regain the right to again serve alcohol in the area and it wasn't until 2000 that the first drink was poured east of Keele Street at Shox's. This is credited by many as the beginning of the revitalization of the Junction.
The Junction originally acquired its name thanks to its junction of two First Nations trails, and later the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Ontario and Quebec Lines with lines from Toronto, Grey and Bruce, and Credit Valley. The true geographic boundaries of the area are Runnymede in the west, to the train tracks at the Dupont/Annette/Weston train Junction in the east, and from Annette in the south to Glen Scarlett Road in the north.
The area between Keele, Runnymede Road, St. Clair, and the CP railway lines, was for many decades the location of the Ontario Stockyards. For a time, this was Canada's largest livestock market and the centre of Ontario's meatpacking industry and reinforced Toronto's nickname as Hogtown. The Ontario Stockyards closed at this site in 1993 (moving to Cookstown, much further north of the city), and most of the meat-packing plants that surrounded it closed shortly thereafter. Much of the lands has been redeveloped with new housing and retail uses. The main Stockyards site is now the location of a large bloc of big-box stores, including Metro, Canadian Tire, Future Shop and Rona, along with several smaller stores.
Alongside with the elimination of prohibition, the Junction registered rapid gentrification with new chic restaurants and bars opening up along Dundas Street, attracting young hipsters, while lower rents made the neighbourhood appealing to artists. Some see The Junction as the next big "hip place to live" with a surplus of vacated industrial space and warehouse loft conversion possibilities.
While the neighbourhood has been an emerging real estate area in the city for years, the sense of maintaining the history and original architectural aesthetics of the neighbourhood remains important.
West Toronto Junction has some of the finest architecture in Toronto, with the winding tree-lined streets north of Annette Street featuring rich red brick Victorian houses on generous size lots that boast decorative features such as rooftop turrets, whimsical front porches and glamorous archways. There are some fine examples of Queen Anne and Arts and Crafts style house in this part of the neighbourhood.
Closer to Dundas Street the houses are Victorian in style but much smaller and much less descriptive. The lots at the north end of the neighbourhood are also narrower. You will find that a fair number of the larger houses particularly on the main streets have apartments with two or more units which help pay for the upkeep and property taxes.
New builders also work with residents to create lofts and buildings that embrace the roots of the area, thanks to projects like The Victoria Lofts. Conversions like this set the stage for other communities to embrace their history by offering modern living with a beautifully maintained Victorian feel.
The familial draw is a huge theme in the area - just a short walk away from High Park, it has a lot to enjoy. Local parks like Vine, Maria, Malta Park, Perth Square Park, and Ravina Gardens just to the north of the area see regular activity from families whenever the sun is shining.
Community events like the annual pumpkin float, Santa in The Junction, The Summer Solstice Festival, and a farmer's market that runs from May through November keep the small-town vibe of the neighbourhood in the city going.
The BIA remains an active part of the community, and they are committed to the continued growth and success of this feisty little neighbourhood, which was once one of the city's best-kept secrets. Businesses like Oaks and Acorns offer PA day camps, summer camps, weekend classes for bigger kids, and parents' and tots' classes, in addition to birthday parties and monthly "Parents Night Out" events to allow parents to enjoy a dinner out while their kids enjoy a movie, crafts, and some structured play.
Residents of the Junction have access to dozens of public, private, and specialty schools, programs and daycares nearby supporting the needs of their families including:
- High Park Alternative Junior School
- Annette Street Public School
- Humberside Collegiate Institute
- Indian Road Crescent Junior School
- St. Cecilia's Catholic Elementary School
- Humberside Montessori School
- Junction Daycare
- Early Enrichment Daycare Centre
- and Toronto Dundas Street West YMCA Centre, music schools, art, dance classes, and more!
In addition to access to numerous educational institutions, there is also walkable access to:
- Annette Public Library in the Junction proper,
- Runnymede Public Library to the South,
- and Perth/Dupont Public Library to the east.
Spend the Saturday with Holly Chandler at The Junction and Junction Triangle!
Specialty Food & Coffee
There is so much to see and do in the area that has become a foodie paradise. Brunch and coffee shops line Dundas street between Keele and Runnymede offering up tasty eats on the weekend thanks to carefully curated menus and spots with plenty of caffeine and Wi-Fi for local freelancers to hold their meetings and get some work done.
You don't have to go to Kensington Market to enjoy vegan sweet treats. Vegan Bakery Bunners has another location in the heart of the neighbourhood. Mike says:
[Bunners] provided me with all the dairy and egg-free treats I've come to need over the past couple of years. Their treats are just as delicious as any place that uses eggs and milk - so why not go in and try it for yourself?
Want to make your own healthy treats? Take a walk around the block to the newly expanded organic supermarket, The Sweet Potato, which is now located on Vine Street. Those who want an international food superstore can head north to The Stockyards where Nations Food Market offers a vast variety of ingredients to build the perfect meal.
Dining & Night Life
One of the neat things about the restaurants in the area is their versatility. Favourite weekend brunch spots also double as wonderful places to enjoy dinner or even some live entertainment.
Vesuvio is one of the original pizza places in the city and has been serving locals and tourists its New York Style Pizza since it entered the neighbourhood way back in 1957. Those looking for an authentic look into old school Toronto dining should stop by dine.TO award winners Vesuvio, a true landmark of the city's history.
Other notable spots to dine in the area include Nodo, Playa Cantina, and La Rev. Fan of fish? Visit Honest Weight to enjoy their fresh fish counter to prepare your own or have lunch and dinner prepared for your dining pleasure.
Dirty Food Eatery is an excellent brunch-focused casual restaurant with delicious and decadent food in a casual environment. It also gets more 5 star reviews than almost any TO restaurant we know!
Hole in the Wall is a hidden gem in the neighbourhood - with a changing menu of casual global dishes, you can also enjoy this cozy eclectic venue for live music & craft beer.
3030 routinely offer a fantastic brunch, discount snack plates in the evening, and have special kid-focused events that let the parents unwind while the kids enjoy some dancing. Jeremy says:
3030 is a GREAT bar in the Junction. Their $5 plates are delicious, and superb value - my wife and I will often get 6 or 7 and share them between us. Dinner for 2 for $30? Yes, please! The beer selection is also great, and always rotating. Pinball machines are in good shape for the most part and there are always interesting bands coming in to play on the weekends. Staff is great and super friendly.
Formerly a "dry" neighbourhood holdout post prohibition, it's hard to believe this area is now known for its friendly and eclectic bar and craft beer scene.
If you are more into quiet conversations, enjoy your favourite book in front of the fireplace at Famous Last Words.
But those who want to enjoy a night out checking out a live music, stop by Junction City Music Hall, Axis, with 3030, Hole in the Wall and La Rev mentioned before, and even the hipster barbershop The Rod, Gun and Barbers.
Where to Shop
The Junction is a fantastic place to furnish your house with antiques, unusual furniture, and knickknacks, as well as to purchase presents. It's quite common for families, and those enjoying their double income with a no kid status, to spend an afternoon searching for the perfect piece for their home or an unusual gift.
Those who want something truly unique in design and aesthetic should visit Mjölk (Milk) whose shop and gallery proudly displays and sells work by designers and artisans from Scandinavia and Japan. For a more eclectic mix of modern and traditional furniture, stop by Cornerstone Home Interiors. Looking for something a little more vintage? Pekota boasts industrial elegance, and Funkyture will make you custom pieces as well as sell you something unique from their shop floor. Don't forget to scour Williams Design and The Art of Demolition to find everything from vintage posters to neon signs to fill out your home.
Pandemonium is a fantastic used book and record store which is the perfect place to update your vinyl collection, grab some classic reads for your kids, or yourself. Not done book shopping? Be sure to check out neighbourhood newbie Type Books, and The Book Exchange in the west end of the Junction. Specialty shops like Beau and Bauble and its relatively new "brother" store Beau Men's offer the perfect place to find a unique gift for that special someone.
Want to support local artists? While many local businesses proudly display and sell artwork as a part of their décor, there are also many galleries in the area. Find out who is on display at ILLEgallery, Latitude 44 Gallery and Framing, Zalucky Contemporary, Alison Milne Design & Gallery.
Those looking to explore their own inner artist while they reconnect after a long week at work may want to explore their artistic side at Pinot's Palette for a family, friend, or romantic paint event.
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Beautiful on Britannia!
Opportunity knocks for 1 lucky buyer to move into this trendy, carefully renovated and spacious semi-detached! Located on a quiet cul-de-sac with Henrietta Park and playground at the end of the street! Incredible community spirit with organized street parties and summer picnics in the park.
Stylish Victorian row house set on a dead-end street in a priceless location of the Junction. This circa 1880’s home oozes character and charm with a contemporary flair! See extensive list of costly upgrades and improvements done throughout the years!
Beautiful and spacious home situated in the Junction, steps away from the convenience and charm of one of Toronto's most coveted neighbourhoods.
Inviting and upgraded 2-storey, 3+1 bedroom, 2-bathroom, light-filled rowhouse located on a premium street in the sought after Junction Neighbourhood.
Attention Singles/Couples - Live in a cool, funky, loft-style, 2 storey owner's suite with extra income on 2nd floor! Surprisingly quiet. Entertain in style indoors or in the fabulous rear courtyard.