West Toronto Junction has managed to retain its original small town charm and appeal despite it’s prime location in Toronto’s bustling west end. Ironically the same railway tracks that skirt this neighbourhood and were responsible for it growth have seemingly also had the dual impact of sheltering the West Toronto Junction from the widespread gentrification that has taken place in many Toronto neighbourhoods. It is a little bit off the beat and path but well worth discovering.
West Toronto Junction is still affordable and appeals to a wide demographic from young families, to artists to urban professionals. This is as true a neighbourhood as you are likely to find in Toronto. It has a strong sense of pride and history, a beautiful main street shopping district on Dundas Street West, cherished local schools, parks and library, and a diverse population that runs the gamut from gentrification to an edgy urban grittiness.
A little history…
West Toronto Junction began as a railway town in the 1870s. A convergence of railway lines operated nearby and opened stations and railyards, attracting manufacturers and their employers to the area. Many of the houses closest to Dundas Street housed the labourers and their families that first settled here. Excessive drinking and rowdiness led to a prohibition on alcohol being sold on Dundas Street West that lasted until 2000.
In 1882 an ambitious young lawyer named D.W Clendenan in partnership with his uncle D. J. Laws purchased the Carlton Race Course property (the first running of the Queens Plate was held there in 1860owned by the Keele family. They then registered the West Toronto Junction plan of subdivision. By 1884 lots were being sold with ads in newspapers beckoning buyers to West Toronto Junction where they would enjoy commanding views of Lake Ontario and High Park. There were 5 miles of streets paved and over 1500 shade trees planted.
By 1888 West Toronto Junction had enough residents to incorporate as a Village and by 1891 a Town with a population of 5,000. Churches, libraries and schools would soon follow. Throughout it’s early history the West Toronto Junction experienced boom and busts cycles. In 1909 the increased demand for more utilities and better roads led the ratepayers to vote in favour of annexation with the City of Toronto.