Leslieville is a quiet East End neighbourhood in Toronto and part of the broader area of South Riverdale. Thanks to ongoing gentrification, it is considered the ‘next big thing’ or ‘Toronto’s Brooklyn’. With its new restaurants, relaxing cafes and quaint shops, it is an ideal destination to dine, drink and shop! According to the New York Times (2005) Leslieville is the new Queen Street West, meaning it is predicted to become one of the hippest areas in the city, not to mention that it’s also the headquarters of Toronto’s film industry.
The neighbourhood began as a small village back in the 1850s and was home to gardeners and workers employed at one of the brick-making factories in the area. The village slowly grew up around the Toronto Nurseries owned by George Leslie and sons, after whom the neighbourhood is named. Now, almost all industrial areas have been abandoned; as a result, there has been an important reduction in air pollution and fumes, and the first industrial buildings were transformed into condos to house members of the middle and creative class. In some of the former industrial areas, large film studios have opened, including Cinevillage and Showline Studios. Just to the south, in the Port Lands area, the massive new Pinewood Toronto Studios are being built.
Leslieville’s second generation of houses was built in the early 1900s north of Queen. This area includes modest detached and semi-detached houses as well as a large number of bungalows. The area is a mix of charming Victorian and Edwardian brick semis and row houses, post-war stock and newer townhouses. You can find architecturally interesting Ontario Cottages, Second Empire row houses and Victorian houses, all built in the late 1800s, along Queen Street and south to Eastern Avenue. The finest houses are between Queen and Dundas.
You will find lower prices between Eastern and the industrial lands to the south. Properties next to the railway, which cuts diagonally through the neighbourhood, go cheaper. But real bargains are hard to come by. In Leslieville, buyers usually come looking for more space than a condo, though large families may find the houses slightly cramped.
Let’s Go Shopping!
Are you in the mood for shopping? Historic Queen Street is Leslieville’s main shopping district, with popular restaurants, galleries, antique stores, bakeries and all kind of shops catering to the specific needs of the local residents. Most of the stores are small and independently owned, but they attract much interest indeed!
The popular India Bazaar, also referred to as Little India, is located in the area on Gerrard Street East between Greenwood Avenue and Coxwell Avenue. It is the commercial centre of Toronto’s East Indian community and the largest ethnic market of Indian goods, fashions, fabrics, jewellery, and food in North America.
If your jewelry box needs an addition, the Bazaar is the ideal place to find earrings, necklaces, rings and bangles fashioned from 22-carat gold imported from all over the world -Dubai, India, Pakistan, Singapore. Talented goldsmiths and gemologists can also design and make custom jewelry. You can also buy materials to sew yourself or have tailored to fit. Or, you can purchase fabulous silks, embroideries and ornately sequined pieces that are ready to wear.
In the bazaar, you will have the chance to taste a wide range of Subcontinent cuisines, varying from restaurant to restaurant and chef to chef. Music lovers can discover everything from ancient classical compositions to today’s trendy beats and remixes in the Bazaar’s audio-video stores. These stores also carry the latest Bollywood films that are enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
Accompanied by the smell of incense and the sound of music, you will definitely enjoy shopping or dining at the India Bazaar…
In Leslieville, there are many opportunities for recreation, especially for children. The waterfront is nearby, there are numerous parks and there is also the S.H. Armstrong Community Recreation Centre on Woodfield, which has an indoor pool, fitness and meeting rooms, and a craft room.
Parks in Leslieville
- Greenwood Park, which has an artificial ice rink, pool, playground and three baseball diamonds.
- Withrow Park, a 8.5-hectare park in the Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto, constructed in the 1910s and bounded by Carlaw Avenue on the east, Bain Avenue on the south, Logan Avenue on the west and McConnell Avenue on the north. It is among Toronto’s largest multi-purpose parks.
- Ashbridges Bay Park on the south side of Queen is the hub of summer activity in Toronto and features volleyball, an Olympic pool, restaurant, pub and facilities.
- Cherry Beach, a public beach on Lake Ontario, just east of Toronto Harbour. It is identified on some maps as Clarke Beach Park. Cherry Beach runs several hundred meters/yards long, and is about 100 feet wide at its widest point. With the efforts to clean up Lake Ontario near Toronto, the water is now swimmable, and lots of boating and recreational activities take place here. They include kite surfing, sailing, canoeing and kayaking, and windsurfing.
- Tommy Thomson Park (also known as the Leslie Street Spit) is both a park and a bird sanctuary.
- Riverdale Park
- Jimmy Simpson Park
Riverdale Farm by John Steven Fernandez
If you seek a place to spend some quality time with your family, you can visit the municipally operated Riverdale Farm in Riverdale park, where you can take your children to enjoy demonstrations of daily chores including animal feedings, egg collection, cow and goat milking, horse grooming. as well as agricultural concepts and experiences.
You can take pathways through 7.5 acres of wooded areas, around ponds and into butterfly-herb-vegetable-flower gardens. Along the way, at the barns and outdoor paddocks, say hello to cows, horses, donkey, sheeps, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, and cats.
Beyond a delightful stroll, the Farm offers activities and fun for all ages. Some highlights are the parent and tot programs, pottery, quilting, summer day camps, yoga, tree planting, fresh bread from the wood oven, and the Tuesday Farmers’ Market.
Leslie Street Spit & Tommy Thompson Park
The Leslie Street Spit, or officially the Outer Harbour East Headland, is a man-made headland in Toronto about 5 km long, extending from the city’s east end in a roughly southwesternly direction into Lake Ontario. It is the ideal place for a serene weekend, especially if you like nature.
On the Leslie Street Spit, you can find and watch more than 300 species of birds. Among the birds that may be observed are the ring-billed gull, the black-crowned night-heron, the double-crested cormorant, the common tern, the Caspian tern, and the herring gull. Leslie Street Spit has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada which are the Canadian partners of BirdLife International.
Much of the natural beauty and attractions are visible from the main road; the paved surface makes it accessible to wheelchairs. For lovers of fishing, cycling, running, walking and roller-blading, Tommy Thompson Park, located on the Leslie Street Spit, is open to the public on weekends and holidays, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from November to March, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March to November (coinciding with daylight savings time).
- Alexander Muir, the composer of “The Maple Leaf Forever”, was the first principal of the Leslieville Public School, one of the first buildings in the village. Muir was inspired when a brilliant maple leaf fell on his jacket from a Leslieville tree. That tree is still standing today and has become a famous landmark in the community.
- The best street in Leslieville is probably Brooklyn Ave – a beautiful Victorian tree-lined street that backs onto Hideaway Park, a hidden gem for dog owners.
- The average neighbour in Leslieville is in their 30s, married, an eco warrior with one child and one dog or, or they are an old-school Leslievillian. A relaxed vibe and indie charm make Leslieville a fun place for hipster nuclear families. Neighbours are friendly and residents are fiercely loyal to the community.
- The most common housing type is semi-detached, 2 storey 3 bedroom.
- T&T Supermarket is a sprawling Asian market which has Chinatown’s selection, plus the ease of one-stop shopping, on 222 Cherry St.
Pape Avenue Cemetery
Officially known as Holy Blossom Cemetery, Pape Avenue Cemetery is the first Jewish cemetery in the city of Toronto, hidden within the residential neighbourhood of Leslieville. It was established in 1849 by two prominent local businessmen, Judah G. Joseph and Abraham Nordheimer, at a time when the nearest Jewish cemeteries were in Montreal or Buffalo. Having been established some years before the city ‘s first synagogue, it was one of the first Jewish institutions established in Toronto. Almost all the early founders of Toronto’s Jewish community were buried there, but the small Cemetery quickly ran out of room and it was closed to new burials by the 1930s. The Toronto Hebrew Congregation took over management of the cemetery and continues to run it today.
Leslieville is well served by public transit, with bus or streetcar routes on Carlaw, Jones, Greenwood, Coxwell, and Eastern Avenues, as well as on Queen and Gerrard Streets. Most of these bus routes link up with stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Motorists can reach downtown in minutes. Lakeshore Boulevard, the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway are also close by.
The 501 Queen streetcar is an easy but slow journey downtown – a trip from Leslie to Yonge takes around 35 minutes in rush hour. Buses to the subway line are fast but not very frequent. The bike lane on Dundas promises a speedy ride downtown. Driving is a breeze with the wide streets and ample parking found in Leslieville.
- Blake Street Junior Public School
- Bruce Junior Public School
- Leslieville Junior Public School
- St Joseph Elementary School
- Morse Street Junior Public School
- Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School
- Roden Junior Public School
- Riverdale Branch at 370 Broadview Avenue,
- Jones Branch at 118 Jones Avenue
- Gerrard/Ashdale branch at 1432 Gerrard St. E.
Interested in living in the neighbourhood? Browse the MLS Listings for the perfect house or condominium available in this area.