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

Founded by a brewer and a sheriff, Yorkville’s picturesque streets with historic Victorian homes and magnificent gardens are nestled against some of the most luxurious contemporary developments — the best of the old and the new seamlessly juxtaposed, resulting in one of Toronto’s most prestigious neighbourhoods. Known as Canada’s most exclusive shopping district and bordered by Bloor Street, Davenport Road, Yonge Street, and Avenue Road, Yorkville is in the heart of the city and features first-rate cafés, award-winning restaurants, fantastic schools, a range of urban parks, and easy access city wide. The Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue of Toronto, Yorkville is home to premiere retail stores, four-star hotels, celebrity sightings, and potentially “You!”

Once upon a time . . .

Partner together the law and beer, the sheriff and the brewer, and you have the beginnings of Yorkville. Meet Joseph Bloore, a Toronto entrepreneur, whose beer flowed from the Bloor and Church Street intersection. Meet William Jarvis, York Sheriff, whose stake in Bloore’s business probably involved cleaning up the aftermath of the beer’s effects. Whatever the case, the two men became friends and co-founded the residential suburb of Yorkville. They purchased, subdivided, and sold lots to city folk looking to exchange downtown York for the fresh air and greener pastures of Yorkville. Soon Victorian homes with well-manicured and colourful gardens popped up along the tranquil streets. Bus service followed, connecting suburb to city, and by 1853, the population reached 1000 — and the sheriff and the brewer officially had themselves a village.

By the 1880s, the costs of a burgeoning community became too much, and at its own request, Yorkville was annexed by the city, becoming St. Paul’s ward. Growth continued and in the 1960s, Yorkville started to take on the essence of Hippyville — ground fertile for the growth of musical talent such as Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Neil Young. Yorkville’s centrality evolved in 1963 with the opening of the Bloor-Danforth subway. The city also loosened its reigns, allowing higher densities and making room for the towers of Bay and Bloor Street and the growth of mixed residential, commercial, and retail developments. The cultural shift of the 1980s and 1990s made Yorkville’s transition into a high-end shopping district an easy one, and the area quickly became a magnet for luxury condominium development.

Bricks & Mortar

Some of Toronto’s most expensive condominiums can be found in Yorkville and include the Prince Arthur, Renaissance Plaza, and the Hazelton Hotel & Residences, while affluent hotels include the Four Seasons, the Windsor Arms Hotel, Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel, InterContinental Toronto Yorkville, the Park Hyatt, the Hazelton Hotel, and the Residence on Bay. One of the newest developments to grace Yorkville’s skyline is the Florian — an exclusive, high-end, luxury condo featuring first-class amenities, spectacular views, and beautifully landscaped outdoor terraces with residences ranging from $1 million to over $10 million.

Yet curled up beneath this grandiose architecture, Yorkville’s quiet residential pocket of Victorian houses rests comfortably, with its own unique transition from retail to residential. Built between 1870 and 1895, most of Yorkville’s Victorian homes are heritage listed and feature decorative architecture including ornate brick work and gables positioned within cast iron fences alongside beautifully manicured gardens. Most of the homes along Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue have been converted into the high-end retail boutiques that mark Yorkville today.

A breath of fresh air

With the development of the Bloor-Danforth subway line came the demise of a row of Victorian houses along Cumberland Street. Local requests for a park to be built over the subway in their stead were denied. It was the 1950s, and the city beat Joni Mitchell to the punch and went ahead and “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” By 1973, the conversation was revisited; finally in 1991, a design competition with objectives of celebrating Yorkville’s Victorian character while showcasing the Canadian landscape resulted in the internationally renowned Village of Yorkville Park.

Symbolic of the lot lines from the original homes, a series of gardens of varying sizes were designed. To the east, a contemporary garden of pavement with pine trees growing out of circular seating is followed by metal arches and crab-apple trees, then marshy wetlands. A very practical courtyard filled with seating is situated in the midst of the park, with a waterfall housed in metal bordering its east side and a giant rock bordering its west. Conversations regularly question the rock’s authenticity — not an inappropriate question with its massive size and the theme of juxtaposing man and nature throughout. It is real. At over 1 billion years old and weighing in at 650 tons, this rock means business. Yorkville asked for a park; it may have taken a while, but they got one. Removed piece by piece from the Canadian Shield, the rock was brought in on multiple trailers and then reassembled — not an easy task, but an incredible accomplishment that has put Yorkville on the map, as well as established the perfect meeting place to find friends.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a neighbourhood park with less crowds and more open space, head over to the north end of Yorkville near Yonge Street. Ramsden Park has four tennis courts, an artificial ice rink, a children’s playground, and a wading pool. Work on your backhand or sign up for one of the park’s learn-to-skate programs for both adults and children. Also, just down the road adjacent to Jesse Ketchum Public School, you will discover Jesse Ketchum Park. Named after the Canadian politician and commemorating the site of the Yorkville Town Hall, this field of green features paths, benches, hedges, trees, and a soccer field. So join the soccer mania and make use of this top-notch artificial turf field.


No need to catch a cab in Yorkville. The beautiful pedestrian-friendly streets beg to be walked, and the Bay and Yonge/Bloor subway stations embrace this cozy neighbourhood so you can head in any direction with easy access to the Bloor-Danforth line or the Yonge-University-Spadina line. If you prefer to drive, the Don Valley Parkway is only five minutes away — short and sweet, anyway you look at it.

Coffee . . . Where art thou?

There is a growing number of avid believers who feel coffee is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity, and as such agree that coffee is synonymous with love. For these Torontonians, finding the right neighbourhood café is serious business. Lucky for Yorkville residents, they’ve come to the right place. Zaza Espresso Bar is one such café that values the coffee “experience” as much as the coffee itself. Italian coffee culture is about relaxation, relationship, and community — espresso savoured in the comforts of a cozy café. Zaza’s unique family blend of robust beans, authentic Italian Espresso machine (straight from Naples), and old world barista skills make the Zaza coffee experience one that is out-of-this-world. Caffe Bacio, which means kiss, is another upscale café with a commitment to high-end coffee and friendly authentic Italian service. Framed photos of famous kisses line the walls, and the parallel between coffee and love is both seen and experienced in the overall café experience.

Seven Grams is a Yorkville experience not to be missed. With a passion to bring both an incredible coffee and café experience, the café is named after the perfect measure of coffee per cup. Owner Heran is friendly and sweet, and her baristas carry her passion for excellence in every cup. The espresso drinks are world class, and this is not a “pour and go” place — single origin coffees are ground and brewed for every cup using a French Press or the Seven Grams pour-over method, in which the Coffee is brewed by the cup. The split-level café is modern, edgy, and colourful, operating as a pseudo gallery with different artists regularly rotating through the space. Seven Grams also boasts a great outdoor patio, communal table, and a downstairs with a fireplace. So find a quiet corner, join some friends, or sit at the bar, and learn more about the world of caffeinated delight.

Date Night!

Known as a top celebrity hangout in Toronto, Yorkville’s European-style charm is the perfect landscape to host your loved one for a night on the town. Meander down Cumberland or Yorkville Street; lined with cafes, patios and ice cream parlours, there is something that will be sure to please your palate. For a romantic dinner, try Café Nervosa’s authentic Italian cuisine. This two-tiered house with a rooftop patio serves a thin crust pizza to die for. After dinner, the Manulife Centre is only steps away at the south-east corner of Bay and Bloor Streets. With its 12 state-of-the-art movie theatres, there is definitely something worth watching. And when the curtain closes, head to the elevator and pop up to the 52nd floor. With views that will take your breath away, the Panorama Lounge & Restaurant is the highest outdoor patio in Toronto. So be sure to head up for dessert or an eleventh-hour dinner, as the kitchen is open late and the bar is open later. Finally, if you’re a fan of the classic 1950s diner, Flo’s Diner in the heart of Yorkville is where you want to be. A popular all-day breakfast destination, Flo’s is known for good food and good service at great prices, as well as the more-than-occasional celebrity sighting.

Does that come in a size 7?

With Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Vera Wang, Coach, and Chanel just a few of the many designer boutiques, Toronto’s version of Rodeo Drive will have you beautified and suited up Julia Robert’s style — size 7 included! The Holt Renfrew store on Bloor is the luxury retailer’s flagship store, while just west, at the Winner’s Store, you will find high-end clothing at a major discount — great for the person with expensive tastes and a regular budget. Life in Yorkville means you are positioned in the heart of Canada’s renowned shopping district, so be sure to take full advantage of the many salons, specialty stores, fashion and jewelry boutiques, and antique shops. Meander through beautiful, pedestrian-friendly streets lined with immaculate Victorian houses that are home to some of Yorkville’s finest merchants, restaurateurs, and artisans. Stop in at an art gallery, or pause for a quiet coffee as you wander along, eyes wide, to your shopping delight. Set your retail GPS to Yorkville Avenue, Cumberland Street, and Scollard Street, but don’t miss out on Hazelton Lanes. Located on Avenue Road, this treasure trove of retail therapy boasts over 100 premium stores for your shopping pleasure.

Where to take the kids. . .

It is Saturday morning, and with infinite wisdom you limit and monitor time “well spent” in front of television screens and/or game consoles inviting your children into the cyberworld of online play. Nope, not for your children. You want to broaden their horizons, to grow them into active community members, cultured little beings who see the world around them, who appreciate art and nature, and who love to explore life beyond their home and school. Yet in their boundless energy, they are climbing the walls, so what to do first? A short walk away, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will keep your loved ones cool in the summer and toasty in the winter with its year-round special activities, events, and programs for the entire family. For kids and youth under 16, programming includes the Saturday Morning Club (yes, you can get those groceries done while your children are otherwise engaged), Summer Club, Explorers’ Club, and ROM Sleepovers (an experience your children should not miss). Be sure to pick up a season’s pass to ensure year-round fun for your family.

The Yorkville Public Library is also located at 22 Yorkville Avenue, while just steps away the Toronto Reference Library — Canada’s largest and most extensive reference library — will take any school project to the next level. On that note, Yorkville also features some first-rate schools; however, 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, visit the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic School Boards websites.

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