<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=294326554740919&ev=PageView&noscript=1" /> Financial / Entertainment District - Wilson Sisters

Side by side in the heart of the downtown core, the Financial and Entertainment Districts are dynamic neighbourhoods that allow the city lover to experience the ultimate in urban living, with work and play just an-arm’s length away from each other. The former district is the financial heart of Canada, home to the nation’s major banks, law firms, corporate head offices and stock exchange. The latter is the entertainment capital of Canada, home to our four major-league sports teams and Canada’s Walk of Fame, as well as many theatres, performing arts centres and cultural attractions. City living at its finest can be found in authentic loft conversions or in modern condominiums offering self-contained spaces with stunning views of the city. These downtown neighbourhoods boast inspiring architecture, excellent city amenities, fantastic dining and shopping options, and top schools. And with Toronto’s Path System, TTC and Gardiner Expressway at your doorstep, access to the rest of the city and the greater Toronto area is easy as can be.

Once upon a time . . .

Toronto’s Entertainment District has less-than-glamorous roots, rather like the many entertainment-industry types with humble beginnings who rise and become stars. The district’s story begins on the shores of Lake Ontario, with the growing town of York clashing with their neighbours to the south, resulting in the war of 1812. Peace ensued and the birth of the railway saw garrison lands sold and the mammoth footprints of industrialization laid alongside the fresh tracks of modern transport. The demise of industry in the ‘70s, however, left a wake of empty warehouses, factories and railroad lands that became fertile land for the Entertainment District. The CN Tower/ Rogers Centre rose from this ground while the city’s best nightclubs and internationally renowned theatres were established in refurbished factories or vacant lands, many along King Street. The lights and cameras of Toronto’s “Hollywood” were also born here, with Canada’s Walk of Fame honouring a wealth of Canadian talent, while TIFF’s (Toronto’s International Film Fest) Bell Lighthouse has become a beacon of Canadian film and history in the heart of this district.

Toronto’s Financial District, meanwhile, began around the late 19th century. By then, most regional banks were positioned in the area. Canada’s major banks and the Toronto Stock Exchange eventually staked their ground on or near King Street or Bay Street, the latter of which has become the centre of the Financial District and is often likened to New York’s Wall Street. Steady immigration saw vast growth, and by the second half of the 20th century Toronto had become the economic capital of Canada as well as its largest city. Toronto’s top business law firms also grew up here and have helped shape the city’s financial history and skyline. This district is lined with clamouring towers, reaching for gold like Jack and his beanstalk, and is home to the city’s and nation’s financial giants.

Bricks & Mortar

Toronto’s Financial District has grown considerably, moving north with the addition of a 50-story Bay Adelaide Centre and the new Trump Towers. The development upward from the ‘60s and ‘70s has continued through to present day, with the ‘90s marked by a mass move of condominium development. The city’s downtown area now boasts buildings towering to great heights that rival New York’s skyline. Modern architectural structures in steel, glass and concrete arose with benchmark buildings such as the First Canadian Place (Canada’s tallest skyscraper) paving the way for modern development. Dozens of these towering complexes — Sun Life Centre, the Brookfield Place and One King West to name a few — offer a mix of corporate, commercial and residential options.

Just west on King Street, the Entertainment District is a relatively new architectural product of the condominium boom of the 21st century. Abandoned warehouses converted into authentic loft spaces, retail, restaurants and theatres are juxtaposed with modern condominiums offering urban living options for city lovers wanting to live in the centre of the party. The area is in the midst of significant transformation, with several projects currently in planning stages or under construction. Located across from Roy Thompson Hall, Theatre Park is one such development offering luxury residences in an iconic 47-pt tower. With its incredible venues, hip bars and fabulous restaurants, this neighbourhood is “Lights, Camera and Action,” and with its streets teeming with interesting people, including the occasional celebrity, who knows who you will meet here.

A breath of fresh air

Large green spaces in the heart of downtown are limited, but developers are creating some incredible rooftop gardens with phenomenal amenities and there are still some great street-level options. Cloud Gardens is one such space where concrete and nature unite. Popular with the corporate crew, this park’s beautiful trees, waterfall and walkway offer an oasis of green nestled just west of Yonge Street between Richmond and Temperance streets. Another hidden gem located at Bay and Adelaide is Arnell Plaza. This half-acre urban park has impeccably manicured gardens, beautiful flowerbeds, Gingko trees and more than enough bench for your bottom. Sit back, unwind and read a book or head over in the summer months and visit the Evergreen Market, a popular downtown attraction.

If you head to the TD Centre on Wellington Street, you will find Joe Fafard’s herd of bronze cows grazing in the courtyard of this urban haven – a whimsical reminder that cows used to wander around this area as farmland encroached the city limits. The beautiful black iron gates encircling the courthouses a few blocks away were actually built to keep out cows! Next door, at the intersection of Queen and Bay streets, Nathan Phillips Square has breathtaking views of Old City Hall and is home to outdoor festivals, concerts, and public events. From June to October, visit the weekly farmers’ market. In the winter months, the square features a skating rink, so come out and enjoy the Festival of Lights or New Year’s celebration in the crisp, cool air of the Canadian winter.


From this area, access to the city is literally at your door – as well as beneath it. Toronto’s PATH system stretches 27 kilometres through the city’s core, offering safe and dry passage (and fantastic underground shopping) to over 48 office towers, six hotels and five subway stations. TTC service is available aboveground (buses and streetcars) or below where the Yonge and University subway lines run north and south and meet at Union Station and link to Go Transit and Via Rail services. If you prefer to cycle, BIXI Bike service provides a network of bikes and docking terminals across the city (https://toronto.bixi.com). The Lake Shore Boulevard and Gardiner Expressway are minutes away and will connect you to all major highways servicing the GTA and beyond.

Coffee . . . Where art thou?

The downtown core is a maze of buildings and activity with plenty of refueling stations where caffeine is readily available. So whether you are hard at work gathering golden eggs, shopping the city streets, or playing in the Entertainment District, you will find cafes in almost every building, street corner, nook and cranny. Tim Horton’s and Starbucks offer numerous locations, while there are several Second Cups and a vast array of independently owned businesses with personable baristas. One is the Financial District’s Aroma Espresso Bar at 121 King Street in the Standard Life building. It’s well worth the walk for its gourmet coffee, fresh food and fantastic service. Another great option in the Entertainment District is the O & B Canteen. Located in the TIFF Bell Light box, they serve great food and coffee in a casual market café atmosphere. So pop in and pick up a latte, before heading next door to see an award-winning film.

Date Night!

There is something for everyone if you live or work in these downtown neighbourhoods. Exchange your suit for jeans, grab a hot dog from one of the hundreds of street vendors, and head over to the Rogers Centre to catch a Jays or Argonaut game. For die-hard hockey fans, the Air Canada Centre (ACC) is the place to be. There, you can watch the Canadian spirit rise and fall with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alternatively, the Toronto Raptors will be sure to entertain, so head to the courts for your basketball enjoyment. And whatever the outcome, there are plenty of restaurants and bars where you can stir up excitement beforehand or celebrate afterwards.

Known for its local theatre, Broadway musicals and comedy shows, the Entertainment District is the world’s third-largest center for English-language theatre behind London and New York. With theatres such as the Pantages, Princess of Wales, and Royal Alexandra, a world-renowned theatre experience awaits you. Enjoy the acclaimed Lion King show — or for a much-needed laugh, head over to Second City where the likes of Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short and the late John Candy kicked off their careers. For film at its finest, visit the Scotiabank Theatre or TIFF’s box office on King Street. Directly across the street, Fred’s Not Here offers some great pre-theatre dinner options – their Lobster Bisque and 20 oz. prime rib steaks come highly recommended — and their staff is committed to getting you to your show on time.

Does that come in a size 7?

At the core of the Financial District, Toronto’s Underground City hosts over 1200 retail stores and vendors. Most shops are open during business hours only, so be sure to take a break from the corporate world and take advantage of the retail therapy below. Toronto’s Path system whisks you away to a world of hidden treasures. Take the underground path to Queen Street where a world-class shopping experience awaits you at the Toronto Eaton’s Centre. With its four floors of shopping delights, 230 vendors and fantastic downtown location, you can escape the outdoor elements, wander through the galleria, and lose yourself in a world of fashion and beauty. And if that isn’t enough, the trendy Queen West shopping district, Kensington Market and Chinatown offer great shopping opps and are only a short walk from the Entertainment and Financial Districts.

Where to take the kids. . .

The city of Toronto has fantastic schools available in every community. Whether you are looking for a public, Catholic or alternative school, the downtown area has some great options for those living in the Financial and Entertainment Districts. Local schools offer more than quality elementary or secondary education, but offer a range of programs before and after school hours including mature student 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.

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