Just east of the Don Valley River, Leslieville is a seamless mix of old and new. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful old house, a sparkling new condo with all the amenities or an authentic loft set amidst the bustle of Queen St., there is something for everyone. Stroll through Leslieville and you’ll encounter a hip yet quaint and charming neighbourhood. Its proximity to the downtown core makes its quiet tree-lined streets a haven for trendy urban dwellers looking for a ‘village feel’ close to the office. With a strong connection to Toronto’s film industry, Leslieville is full of creative types and young professionals shopping along Queen St, enjoying great coffee at one-of-a-kind cafes, or dining out at a range of unique Leslieville restaurants. The many schools, parks and community centres provide great amenities for families who love not having to trade city life for the suburbs. The TTC runs 24 hours and there is easy access to the DVP, Lakeshore Blvd and Gardiner Expressway.

Once upon a time…

Founded in the 1850s, Leslieville was named after George Leslie, who literally planted the neighbourhood when he leased land near Queen and Leslie to open a nursery. His success fueled the growth of the local community as his nurseries grew to span several hundred acres becoming one of the largest in Canada. Later, the growth of the metal and tanning industries saw Leslieville’s surrounding areas industrialized and its population dominated by factory workers. The area became a bit weathered in the ‘80s and ‘90s; however, an influx of new businesses and developments, coupled with its fantastic location, infused Leslieville with new life and in 2005, The New York Times dubbed the area “the new Queen West.”

Bricks and Mortar

With factories and older buildings being converted into condos or authentic lofts and new developments being built to blend and/ or augment the overall architecture of the area, Leslieville is becoming prime real estate. One such development worth checking out is The Carlaw. A landmark development that redefines The Carlaw Corridor, The Carlaw is a blend of old and new architecture, with its beautiful brick exterior paying homage to the warehouses of Leslieville’s rich history and its striking modern glass speaking volumes to the strength and clarity of Leslieville’s future.

Prefer a home with a backyard? Look no further. Beautiful old homes abound, with an architectural divide between the 19th and 20th century falling along Queen St. To the south, discover Ontario cottages, 2nd Empire Row houses and Victorian homes built in the late 1800s. To the north, there are more modern homes, including detached, semis and bungalows. There is no shortage of homes with plenty of character and wonderful renovation possibilities!

A breath of fresh air

Do you love the outdoors? Enjoy being active? Leslieville has some great parks to explore. One is Greenwood Park, just east of Jones on Dundas. A large green expanse with baseball diamonds, an ice rink and an outdoor pool, this park is stacked. You can join a local team, work on your double axel or swim a few lengths. And, it has a great dog facility –with a fully fenced leashless area – so go ahead, organize your day while your pet frolics happily with his four- legged friends! A few blocks away, Jonathon Ashbridge Park boasts not only two tennis courts, but a playground and a wading pool for summer fun. Feeling patriotic? Check out Maple Leaf Forever Park and visit the tree outside of author Alexander Muir’s home that inspired the song that nearly became Canada’s national anthem (and was sung by Michael Buble at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Games). Finally, if you’re seeking solace by the water’s edge, just venture just a few minutes southeast of Leslieville, where you’ll discover Ashbridge Bay. Jump on your bike or throw on your running shoes, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by tiny rock beaches looking out into the serene expanse that is Lake Ontario.

Taxi!

Planes, trains and automobiles! Okay, so maybe not planes, but the TTC provides excellent bus routes running along Carlaw, Jones, Greenwood & Eastern Ave and linking to the Bloor-Danforth Line with street car service on Gerrard and Queen (www.ttc.ca). The Queen St. Streetcar — one of the longest streetcar routes operating in the world — runs 24 hours, bringing you home from work or play to the safety of Leslieville. For those who prefer to cycle or drive, this neighbourhood offers a number of great bike lanes as well as easy access to the DVP, Lakeshore Blvd and Gardiner Expressway.

Coffee… Where art thou?

Does your day start early? If you’re fortunate enough to be rolling out of bed in Leslieville, you’re already off to a good start. With unique cafes serving genuinely good coffee scattered throughout the neighbourhood, you really can’t go wrong when looking for that early morning kick. Tearo, Mercury and Red Rocket offer superb blends — Tearo roasts on site — and further east, Tango Palace Coffee Company is also very dedicated to caffeinating Leslieville locals. Its door opened 17 years ago and its friendly staff serves customers seven days a week from 7am to 11pm — now that’s commitment! If you’re passionate about great espresso or a strong, hot latte with perfectly poured milk, Voulez Vous at Queen and Coxwell will put a smile on your face. One of the newer cafes, Voulez Vous has a warm and friendly ambience that is already popular with the locals. Curl up on a velvet plush chair by the fireplace, and you may just decide to make it your office for the day. It has been said that Leslieville is great coffee — and there are more than a few fantastic cafés to discover when exploring this hood.

Date night

Whether it’s Date Night, you have friends visiting or you’re just in need of some comfort food, Leslieville is able to serve all of your needs with a range of great restaurants that are sure to satisfy. For the world’s largest meatballs and a great glass of wine, try Gio’s Rana’s Really Nice Restaurant. Or head over to Ruby Watchco, a place so good, they will decide what you want to eat — and you will like it! Feel like some Irish Pub Grub? Head over to the Ceili cottage, where the atmosphere and food will make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to Ireland. Locals love their daily specials and fresh-shucked oysters, and Guinness or Kilkenny are always on tap.

Saturday-morning brunch in Leslieville is also a must, and one place to be is Lady Marmalade. If you’ve slept late and there’s a line-up, just grab a coffee and wait. It is so worth it, with its perfect mix of authentic, quirky and delicious that makes it all work! For those with little ones, try Lil Bean N’ Green. They have an amazing Vanilla Bean Chai Latte, a fantastic kids play area and great healthy choices (including gluten-free) for breakfast, lunch or snacks.

Does that come in a size 7?

If you love to shop or spend your spare time exploring the city streets, it’s easy to get lost in this bustling area. Queen Street is well known for its mostly small independently owned stores and specialty shops offering just about everything. The Leslieville Cheese Market, Brick Works Bakery and Ed’s Real Scoop can’t be missed! And for something unique, visit The Doll Factory by Damzels and check out their ‘50s-inspired, funky-yet-sophisticated-and-functional clothing line. For a whole different scene, head over to Gerrard St., and you’ll find yourself in Little India, the commercial centre for Toronto’s East Indian community. Need your eyebrows waxed? Why not try threading? For only $5 ($20 at a downtown spa), you’ll come out with beautiful brows. Then check out the many shops carrying beautiful silks and saris and specialty jewelry, and enjoy the sounds of India as you feast on hot corn on the cob, wander through the outdoor bazaar or stop for some homemade curry.

For more information on great shopping and a more comprehensive list of restaurant choices, visit our friends at BlogTO (http://www.blogto.com/leslieville).

Where to take the kids…

Whether you work from home or elsewhere, unless you choose to homeschool, your children need to go somewhere! Looking for a great school? Check out our list below! From preschool to high school, Catholic or public, Leslieville has some fantastic options. For more information, visit the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic School Boards websites.

Looking for some great evening or weekend activities? Your local Gerrard/Ashdale Public Library has a great selection of books, resources and programs for children. As well, the City of Toronto Community Recreation Centres (CRCs) offer swimming, crafts, kids camps and more. The SH Armstrong CRC located at 56 Woodfield Rd. has a gym, indoor pool, fitness room, as well as craft and meeting rooms with programs for children 5 to 14. Or be sure to stop by Matty Eckler CRC. Located at the southeast corner of Pape and Gerrard, the staff there are committed to getting children to dive into the fun swimming programs at cost-effective prices available to all.


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