The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, named for the farmer’s market in its midst, was originally the heart of Toronto and still embodies that spirit in many ways. With the hustle and bustle of the markets, and the Esplanade running alongside them, this neighbourhood has an incredible sense of community. The various shops and restaurants, David Crombie Park, and the local community centre lend to a family-friendly environment where people of all ages and cultures can congregate. Relax in the park, grab a coffee from your favourite café or wander down to the market. Whether you’re looking for a 19th-century brick home, a refurbished factory loft, or a brand new condo, this trendy neighbourhood is a wonderful place to call home.


Once upon a time…

The St. Lawrence neighbourhood was part of the shoreline in 1808 when the city decided to build a wharf. This one wharf became many, and with the use of landfill, the city planned to build a beautiful Esplanade along the waterfront. Unfortunately, the fairy tale was doomed before it began — the wicked witch of industry caused the city to hand over the land to the railway instead. This less attractive but more practical decision created Toronto’s most prominent industrial centre. It wasn’t all bad, however, as it gave jobs to many, including the Irish living in Cabbage Town. The ‘40s saw the demise of industry mirrored in the decline of the neighbourhood until the implementation of a very good integration plan – mixed commercial and residential housing – led to the happy ending of the present-day healthy, strong and vibrant St. Lawrence neighbourhood.


Bricks & Mortar

Want to create a dynamic and unique downtown area? Mix the architectural remains and history of what was once an industrial era hub with the footprints of new developments and you have the trendy and popular St. Lawrence market neighbourhood. With its past origins as the city centre of Toronto, this area boasts some of Toronto’s most notable architecture. Buildings such as the Flatiron, dating back to 1892, say it all. In a city that has seen much of its old architecture destroyed, this area is a gem. While walking the streets you will encounter classic old industrial buildings dating back to the 1800s. You can either shop in them or live in them, and they have evolved to become part of the modern fabric while retaining their authenticity. Realizing this, developers have created some of the most talked-about developments in the city – including Market Wharf, which has strong ties to the area’s history. Iconic developments, namely the L Tower by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, are also shaping the area’s future. It has been over 200 years since the first Saturday market in St. Lawrence opened, so one could say that while everything has changed, not much has changed at all. Well … maybe the coffee is a touch hotter.


A breath of fresh air

If you’re on the go with the kids in tow, pack a picnic lunch and take five at one of the two children’s playgrounds just southeast of St. Lawrence Market. Otherwise, you can’t miss David Crombie Park as it runs along the Esplanade and directly through the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. Shoot some hoops, smash it out on the handball court, or meander through the garden and relax by the waterfall. This park may seem like a mirage, but it’s a genuine oasis of green in the midst of the hustle and bustle of city life.

Looking for some blue to match your green? The Harbourfront is in walking distance, or for Toronto’s latest urban beach, head south on Jarvis until you hit the white sand and pink umbrellas of Sugar Beach. Relax in one of the recliners – there are 150 to choose from – watch the sail boats, build a sandcastle, or cool off with the kids in the very fun water feature – imbedded granite maple marks the spot of this hidden treasure. This unique lakeside space grants you the opportunity to take a deep breath and some rest from your busy life.


Taxi!

Life in the St. Lawrence Market area means you’re a short walk away from Union Station, which is reminiscent of New York’s Grand Central Station. With Go Transit and Via Rail services operating out of Union Station, you can’t get more central than this. You’re also steps from Toronto’s PATH system, an underground walkway that stretches 28 kilometres through the city’s downtown core and provides a safe and dry passage to your favourite destination. Taxis are plentiful in this popular area, or if you prefer to drive, you can take the Gardiner Expressway, Lake Shore Boulevard and Don Valley Expressway, which are all conveniently accessible within minutes of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood.

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly and healthy alternative, bike lanes run through the city with access on Lower Sherbourne Street running north from Queen’s Quay as well as heading east along The Esplanade. If you don’t have a bike, The City of Toronto has organized a network of bikes and docking terminals across the city. Intended for one-way trips to complement public transit, bikes can be dropped off and picked up 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. With over 1000 bikes, 80 terminals and 1500 docking points, this service is free for up to 30 minutes. So find your nearest bike terminal, hop on a bike, and ride! (https://toronto.bixi.com/).


Coffee… Where are thou?

Whether running late or rising early, if you’re like most of us you like starting your day off on the right foot with a cup of hot, steaming java. The search for that perfect cup is short and sweet in this area, with several great options just minutes away. One is Hank’s Café, just south of Front Street at the very cool address of 9 ½ Church Street. Not just another coffeehouse, Hank’s is a fantastic cafe committed to greatness. With phenomenal baristas, free Wi-Fi, locally sourced foods, and a relaxed atmosphere, Hank’s is perfect for a quick or lingering caffeine oasis. Only a few years old, this venue has quickly become a local cornerstone. Or, if you love drinking your coffee at home instead of the café, Everyday Gourmet located at 95 Front Street is the place for you. Their on-site roaster and international beans promise a wide variety of Arabica coffees (50 options) to please your coffee-drinking palate. So go ahead and bring some home or try one of six daily blends on site.


Date Night!

The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is one of Toronto’s top entertainment and dining centres! From the Esplanade to Front Street, there are many delectable options for casual or fine dining. For German fare and a great selection of beer, the Bier Market is the place to be. If it’s Scottish flavour you prefer step next door to the Scotland Yard, which cooks up delicious Guinness stew in a Yorkshire pudding bowl. For a Moroccan twist complete with belly dancers, The Sultan’s tent on Front Street will delight and entertain you seven nights a week. For a more elegant evening of ballet, opera or chamber music, the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is the destination of choice. Alternatively, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts plays host to a variety of international stars and attractions. Performing legends to have graced the centre’s stage include Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace and many of Canada’s greatest singers and international opera stars. For your dining and entertainment pleasure, the St. Lawrence area simply can’t be beat.


Does that come in a size 7?

Located in the heart of the community on Front Street, the St. Lawrence Market is a shopping mecca. Where else can you roll out of bed, take a few steps, and find yourself in one of the biggest gourmet kitchen/ pantries around? Sample local treats or nibble on a pastry while filling your bags with fresh produce, meat, poultry and whatever specialty foods tickle your fancy. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker are all on site to make your market experience an adventure. The North Building, home to the 200 year old Saturday Farmers’ Market, is open Thursday and Saturdays while the South Building, open daily, is a perfect destination for a quick break with over a dozen lunch counters and other vendors. So come and retrace the steps of thousands of Torontonians before you. One of the many benefits of living in this community, the St. Lawrence market will quickly become an extension of your home.

The shopping doesn’t stop there, however, as The Esplanade is lined with retail stores and services for your shopping pleasure. You can even get your hair cut and styled here – the artistic team of stylists at Navigate Space, led by John, will turn your ordinary into fantastic. And to finish off your look, pop into Optic Zone, where Joe will help you find the perfect glasses for your face shape and personality. Then, continue on with your shopping in style!


Where to take the kids…

Wherever and however you spend your days – unless you’re homeschooling, of course – your children need to go somewhere! Synonymous with finding the right home for your family is finding the right school for your children. From kindergarten to high school, Catholic or public, the St. Lawrence Market area has some great options. Most Toronto schools have definite enrollment boundaries, so it’s always a good idea to contact the school you have in mind to ensure your new home falls within their boundaries. For more information, visit the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic School Boards websites.

If rain, snow or unbearably hot temperatures are keeping you indoors and you need an inexpensive way to entertain your children, there are myriad options in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. After visiting the St. Lawrence Market, an adventure in itself, your local library is footsteps away at 171 Front Street With a great selection of books for you and your children, the library also hosts parent and baby / toddler programs, reading groups and special events. So come watch a local magician, win a prize at Kids’ Bingo or make a seasonal craft – there’s always something happening at your local library.

For something completely different, head over to Rainbow Cinema at Market Square. With box office prices that can’t be beat, you can go the whole nine yards and do up the afternoon with popcorn too. Tuesdays, you can wander over to watch that new release the children have been begging you to see, and for only $5 per ticket all day / all ages, you can’t go wrong. The rest of the week, pay only $1 more for kids and between $6 and $9 dollars for adults with discounts for seniors and students. At those prices, you can make the Rainbow Cinema experience a regular event for the whole family!

We all know that physical activity is essential for healthy living, and the St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre (CRC) offers multiple programs to keep both you and your children active. Break dancing, hip hop, basketball, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics and martial arts are available for your children or they can dive into a range of aquatic programs available at the centre’s swimming facility. The centre’s summer camps offers fun-filled programs to keep your child on the move with local trips, arts & crafts, sports and various activities. So what are you waiting for? Head over to your local St. Lawrence Recreation Centre today!


 

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