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

The Beach

Whether you’re looking for a beautiful old beach house, sparkling new townhouse, or mid-rise condo, there is something for everyone in Toronto’s Beaches. Stroll down Queen Street East and you’ll encounter a lake-side neighbourhood complete with quaint and charming shops, phenomenal restaurants, and cozy cafés. Wander down picturesque side streets towards the boardwalk, which runs 3.5km alongside the sandy lakeshore past a multitude of parks usually alive with a community outreach event or festival. With both top-notch schools and close proximity to downtown, the Beaches neighbourhood is the perfect place to make your family’s home, its quiet tree-lined streets a haven for trendy urban dwellers looking for a “stay-cation” that means a short commute to both beach and office. The TTC runs 24 hours, and there is easy access to the DVP, Lakeshore Boulevard, and Gardiner Expressway.

Once upon a time…

Meet the Ashbridge family, the area’s first residents. It is 1773 and Pennsylvanian widow Sarah Ashbridge decides to move her farming family north. Obtaining 600 acres, the Ashbridge family prospers as Toronto gradually expands eastward. By the late 1800s, the area is subdivided into large parcels of land, some of which are now Toronto’s favourite lake-side destinations and home to summer festivals. The beautiful beaches and parklands draw summer crowds, and by the 1920s the area is officially subdivided to make room for year-round residential development. Eventually, the Ashbridge family sells all but their original farm (which is now a historical site), remaining there until 1997. One family, two centuries: proud pioneers, farmers, and professionals, the family’s legacy is reflected in the neighbourhood’s strong sense of pride and community spirit.

Bricks & Mortar

Known as both The Beach and The Beaches (although officially The Beach won out in a close community vote), who wouldn’t want to live on tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets intersecting park and boardwalk before disappearing into sand and lake? With the neighbourhood mostly developed in the 1920s and 1930s, restored turn-of-the-century frame cottages are common among varied architecture. More recent developments include The Beach, which was built on the site of the former Greenwood racetrack, comprised of detached and semi-detached homes and several low-rise condos, each maintaining heritage-inspired and custom built exteriors. Kew Beach Living on Kippendavie Avenue is another new development that fits well into the fabric of the neighbourhood with its garden patios, balconies, large terraces, and mammoth roof-top terraces, and it is only minutes away from Woodbine Beach. Wishing your home was a resort town? This is your neighbourhood!

A breath of fresh air

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “My life is like a stroll upon the beach, as near the ocean’s edge as I can go.” While saltwater seas may be out of your day-to-day reach, you can’t get much closer to the soft sand and blue waters than Toronto’s beaches. Follow the boardwalk west from Scarboro, Balmy, and Kew Beaches to the soft stretch of Woodbine Beach. Join a volleyball league; with over 80 courts, there is room for players of all abilities. Enjoy the many playgrounds, stop for a picnic, or take a swim at Donald Sutherland pool. The Olympic-size pool has lake views, a high diving board, and a children’s pool. After, why not picnic at Ashbridge’s Bay Park while watching wind- and kite surfers take to the waves?

Kew Gardens is positioned in the epicentre of the Beaches, extending from Queen Street almost to the water’s edge. This is more than a neighbourhood park and boasts a fairy-tale children’s playground, wading pool, artificial ice rink, baseball diamond, tennis courts, and concert bandstand. Annual neighbourhood events are held here, including cultural festivals, music, and arts and craft shows. Come watch the lighting of the Christmas tree and Menorah, the Easter parade, or see and hear the streets come alive with music during the Beaches’ Jazz Festival.

Taxi!

Motorists will appreciate easy access to the DVP, Lakeshore Boulevard, and Gardiner Expressway, while those who prefer public transit will enjoy reliable bus and streetcar routes running along Queen Street, Kingston Road, Gerrard Street, Victoria Park Avenue, Main Street, and Woodbine Avenue, with multiple routes linking to the Bloor-Danforth subway line (www.ttc.ca). For fitness enthusiasts, the neighbourhood connects to a number of great bike lanes as well as to the Martin Goodman Trail, which runs alongside the boardwalk through the city’s waterfront and all the way to the Humber River on the west side of the city. So why not jump on your bike or throw on your jogging shoes and cruise into work while enjoying the serene expanse of Lake Ontario?

Coffee… Where art thou?

Why don’t you come by for a coffee? Fond memories of hot coffee in the front room with old friends, family, or neighbours come pouring in at Wunderland Café. Wander down Queen Street and up the front porch and start your morning in Peter’s front room. Home to his family for over a decade, this urban coffee shop feels like somewhere between a log cabin and a home, with authentic furniture handcrafted from 200-year old barn wood and the best coffee you could ask for. Wunderland Café uses certified organic and fair trade Ethiopian beans, is well priced, and tastes great.

Not the only pebble on the beach, there are plenty of options for great cafés in the Beaches. Dufflet Bakery also serves coffee, but is better appreciated for their sweets and treats. Remarkable Bean, located near Beech and Queen Streets, is a long-standing Beaches favourite. For over 15 years, they have served fair trade, organic brews, and they roast their coffee on site so the café is filled with an amazing aroma of both freshly brewed and freshly roasted coffee, not to mention fresh-baked goods, so be prepared for a sensory overload.

Date Night!

Planning a night out? Whether it be a first date or fiftieth anniversary, you don’t need to leave Queen Street to woo the one you love. Sauvignon Bistro is a perfect blend of fine dining in an eclectically uber-cool atmosphere. Why not start with the calamari? Marinated in sesame and chilli and served over a mint and cilantro salad with citrus vinaigrette, you will experience flavour bliss. Followed with a grilled black angus striploin smothered in Pommery mustard and onions and served with sweet potato fries and paired with a red from Sauvignon’s extensive wine list, your night is off to a fantastic start. Famous for its succulent sushi, Yumei Sushi Japanese Restaurant is another favourite in the Beaches neighbourhood. With 30 years experience, owner Young Lee serves fresh, high-quality sushi ensuring you will soon become one of his regulars.

For breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, The Green Eggplant is an upscale family restaurant specializing in fresh fish, aged steaks, satisfying salads, generous portions, and overall quality home-style cooking. Their Mediterranean Steak Salad comes highly recommended! For a casual brunch or lunch, the Sunset Grill has great meals for reasonable prices. It’s a perfect location for when the babysitter cancels and the kids accompany, offering quality food with crayons included. For those with a sweet tooth, Ed’s Real Scoop features homemade ice cream and cones, but disappears with summer so don’t miss out on their creamy goodness. A unique place to pop in for dessert is The Pie Shack. Dig in to a homemade pie, eat in or take out: this fun and friendly venue will have you coming back for more.

Does that come in a size 7?

Known for its mostly small, independently-owned stores and specialty shops, the heart of the Beach’s shopping district is Queen Street East. This hip yet quaint and charming neighbourhood wears its beach vibe well, as reflected in both the diversity of its storefronts and a general spirit of meandering versus purposed spending. Ends is an east-end icon providing a range of discount and designer clothing and accessories to anyone who dares to pass through its doorways and by its tables stacked with the latest and greatest bargains. From socks and tees to designer jackets and dresses, Ends caters to men, women, and children searching for hidden gems among the mayhem. Set Me Free is another great stopover for ladies clothing, accessories, and giftware, while Pony Club Men’s Fashion features designer men’s clothing that is sure to impress. Your children will love Bumbleberry Kids. Bring in the clothing they grew out of before they had a chance to wear them, and pick up some new outfits that will keep your children looking sharp. From shoes, to books, to skateboard and toy stores, Torontonians love shopping in the Beaches — and when the summer months see the main thoroughfare overflowing with tourists, Kingston Road extends your beach-inspired shopping, but with more of a local crowd.

Where to take the kids…

Some say that “Life’s a beach,” but to the chagrin of your children comes the transition from sea to school. On cooler days, you can visit the Beach Branch of the Toronto Public Library just east of Kew Gardens. They have fantastic children’s resources (you can even borrow DVDs free of charge) as well as programs for toddlers to school-aged children. Also, be sure to pop into Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, which] boasts an amazing collection of books and resources, not to mention some fun drop-in programs for you and your children to enjoy together.

Synonymous with finding the right home for your family is finding the right school for your children. Location matters: proximity to both beach and the school of your choice takes proper planning. 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. Whatever the age or grade of your children, The Beach has some great options. For more information, visit the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic School Boards websites.