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

Lake Ontario is breathtaking; the expansiveness of its blue-green waters has been mistaken for the ocean by more than one confused tourist. Nestled between the lake’s northern shore and the city’s downtown, Toronto’s Harbourfront extends along Queens Quay from Bathurst Street in the west, to Yonge Street in the east. Home to beautiful parks, marinas, fantastic restaurants, and laughter-infused patios, Toronto’s Harbourfront is more than a summer-time destination. It is the social, cultural, and recreational hub of a neighbourhood where people bask in the benefits of waterfront living with the ease of downtown life. After a long day, why not walk, jog, or kayak along the harbour? Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre is open year round and features food, festivals, film, and family fun at your fingertips and with top schools, fantastic shopping, the boardwalk just steps away, and easy access to the wider city, why wouldn’t you live here? The Toronto Harbourfront neighbourhood invites you to make this playground by the lake your home.

Once upon a time . . .

While, the town of York once rose up west of the Don River along the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto’s Harbourfront has changed significantly since those early days. Where we now wander down the boardwalk, the lake bottom would have, back then, swallowed us. Shipping and Industrialism of the 1800s changed the landscape as man took on nature pushing back the water’s edge making room for riches and rails. From Front Street down to present day Queen’s Quay, landfill poured forth creating both piers and new ground for industrial development, while making the way for industry to sail in and take over the shoreline. Shipping facilities, warehouses, and railway tracks took ownership of the city’s newly developed harbour linking the nation to the international marketplace.

The inevitable demise of industry left harsh footprints across Toronto’s Harbourfront. By 1972, its industrial centre in ruins, Toronto woke up to a sad and lonely waterfront. In the wake of this revelation, the federally sponsored Harbourfront Corporation was formed and gradually the tides began to turn for a neighbourhood rife with unfulfilled potential. One of the Harbourfront Corporation’s earliest projects was the restoration of the 1927 Queen’s Quay terminal. Once the largest warehouse in North America, the building was restored to a mix of high-end residential, commercial, and retail space – the beginnings of an ongoing journey on a road to rejuvenation for this much loved, downtown neighbourhood.

Bricks & Mortar

The Harbourfront renaissance crashed into the eighties, and with it came the rise of luxury condominiums, some built right to the water’s edge — poor city planning in terms of maximizing waterfront park space — but wonderful for the lucky residents. Not surprisingly, the architecture of industry eventually caught the eye of savvy developers and while some of the existing structures were razed, other buildings left by the wayside made for unique developments intertwining the old and the new and boasting a long history as part of the cultural and commercial history of the city.

The Tip Top Tailor clothing company is one such complex that has taken on new life. Constructed in 1929, the Art Deco building was originally used for both office and warehouse purposes; its proximity to the waters and ports of the Great Lakes a huge commercial advantage. The Great Depression, however, forced the company to rethink strategic potential, so while the company survived as one of Canada’s top menswear chains, the waterfront warehouse was left to its demise. Converted to condominiums in 2006, Tip Top Lofts is now a stand-alone, luxury, high-class development featuring unique, mostly two-storey, spacious, loft-style condos with spectacular lake views and world-class amenities.

Lake views and balconies for Toronto’s Harbourfront residences are a must, and developers have sought to ensure at least partial lake views. Weighing in at 16 storeys, and 288 units, the Queens Harbour is also a local favourite and features studio and 1-2 bedroom suites with brilliant views. Quiet and well managed, this condo’s 24-hour concierge, roof-top garden, visitor parking, and exercise facilities are just a few reasons why this condominium is an inviting option along the Queens Quay corridor. And if a home along the water’s edge isn’t close enough to the lake for you, lakeside marinas rent out seasonal moorings so you can embrace Harbourfront living in its fullness while making your boat home for the summer months.

A breath of fresh air

If you choose to become a resident of Toronto’s Harbourfront, your front yard is now officially a year-round recreational oasis. The Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel pond doubles as a lake-side skating rink during the winter months. So be sure to strap on your skates, take some lessons or join the DJ for a late-night skate party. And when the ice melts, rent a canoe and enjoy paddling around the safety of the pond. Alternatively, if you are feeling gutsy, you can take to the lake by kayak, canoe, motor, or sail boat. Rentals, lessons, and/or sailing club memberships are surprisingly affordable and the Toronto Islands are also only minutes away. Rent a boat or catch a ferry (bring your bike, tennis racquet, and a picnic) and head over to Centre Island. Visit the zoo, take the kids on some rides at Centreville, wander the pier, or go for a swim. While there are several great swimming beaches on Toronto’s islands, Hanlan’s Point has one better known for its absence of swimwear. So while the tennis courts there are kid-friendly, you may want to give that particular beach a miss. Otherwise, back on the mainland, the Martin Goodman trail will take you alongside a sea of blue, to parks, marinas, pools, boardwalks, and beaches; and for a (swim-wear included) beach-in-the-city experience, wander over to the soft sand, yellow umbrellas, and Muskoka recliners of HtO Park, or head east to the white sand and pink umbrellas of Sugar Beach. While there is no swimming, these unique city beaches promise an oasis of rest and relaxation close to home.


Walk, drive, or cycle; hop a street car or jump a ferry, whether you need to get across the city, across the lake, or around the corner, the options from the Harbourfront are endless. The TTC is at your doorstep with the 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina, and 511 Bathurst minutes away from Union, Spadina, and Bathurst Stations. From Union Station, Toronto Transit or Go Transit will take you in or out of Toronto. Or if you prefer to drive, the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard will take you to all the major highways connecting to the greater Toronto area with access just over your shoulder.

Coffee . . . Where art thou?

An early morning run, a brisk walk to work . . . what better complements the wind, waves, and ease of lakeside living than the perfect cup of coffee? At the heart of the Harbourfront, Tim Horton’s and The Second Cup will keep you caffeinated. If you are looking for coffee and a healthy lunch alternative, La Prep’s two handy waterfront locations feature freshly prepared foods and a wide variety of signature coffees. Just west of York Street, the Starbucks is a popular Queens Quay coffee-sipping destination. The outdoor patio is always full and is a great spot to people watch or catch up on your reading. Finally, if you are heading to the Quay West Marina or to the Toronto Music Garden, plan to stop in for a quick cuppa at the Music Garden Café. Located at 466 Queens Quay, this independently-owned café is warm and inviting, overlooks the lake, and serves quality coffee.

Date Night!

For the perfect date on a warm summer’s evening, endless lake-side options await the romantic-at-heart to dazzle or woo his or her loved one. Located at 235 Queens Quay West at the very heart of the waterfront, the Harbourfront Centre spans ten acres and features a year-round melange of unusual art, entertainment, recreational, and dining opportunities. With almost 4000 yearly events including concerts, festivals, theatre performances, and cinema nights, the Harbourfront experience promises to be full of exciting, colourful, and dynamic possibilities whenever you visit. For a casual dinner by the water, The Watermark Irish Pub and Restaurant’s ice-cold beer selection and hearty, traditional pub fare tastes even better thanks to the panoramic view of Toronto’s harbour, and with patio space for up to 220 people, outdoor seating is not a fantasy. Alternatively, if the harbour reminds you of your love of seafood, Pier 4 is surrounded on 3 sides by water so whether you choose indoor over patio dining, the exciting harbour view awaits you. After dinner, the West Jet stage hosts a range of outdoor concerts as well as a summer cinema Wednesday evenings at dusk. Dinner and a movie . . . as always the ideal date night! As if that is not enough, the Canadian National Exhibition, Marine Museum, Old Fort York, C.N. Tower, Rogers, and Air Canada Centres are all a short walk away from your neighbourhood – all first-rate destinations for a fun, casual date, day or night.

Does that come in a size 7?

Locals and tourists alike will be head-over-heels for Queens Quay West shopping. At the foot of York Street, the historic Queens Quay Terminal is open seven days a week and features a treasure trove of art galleries, boutiques, one-of-a-kind specialty shops, and world-class restaurants, as well as very practical establishments such as Sobeys and Tim Hortons. A short walk east to Queens Quay and Jarvis Street, you will discover the 3-storey Loblaw’s food and shopping complex. Home to a range of shops and services including a LCBO, this retail centre offers underground parking so you can pick up your groceries with ease. A little further away, but still in walking distance, the St. Lawrence Market will add some spice to your life. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, and all of their friends and associates, can be found in a gourmet kitchen/pantry setting that doubles as Toronto’s oldest and biggest market place. So sample some local treats, while filling your bag with fresh produce, meat, poultry, or specialty foods that will make the short walk well worthwhile.

Where to take the kids. . .

For family fun on the weekends, the Harbourfront neighbourhood is a recreational hub of activity that also offers exciting and educational programs during school holidays. Cooking and crafts; kayaking and canoeing; sailing, circus and sports skills; and digital media and photography are just a few of the reasonably priced, educational, and fun-filled programs that will create memories for your children that will last a life time. Alternatively for a more educational approach to recreation and a stellar selection of books, your local libraries also feature family-friendly movie nights and special events including literacy-building fun and special musical guests. The closest branches to the Harbourfront are the St. Lawrence Market, City Hall, and Sanderson libraries, although a brand-new branch is being built just up the street at Fort York Boulevard and Bathurst Street. Finally, your children spend most of their time in school, and thus finding the right school near your home matters. From kindergarten to high school, Catholic or public, the Harbourfront neighbourhood has some fantastic 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 its boundaries. For more information, see our list below and/or visit the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic School Boards (www.tdsb.on.ca & www.tcdsb.org).

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