is a large neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
. It is bounded by the Don River Valley
to the west, Danforth Avenue
to the north, Jones Avenue
, the CN/GO tracks
, and Leslieville
to the east, and Lake Shore Boulevard
to the south.
The popular teen drama shows The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, and Degrassi: The Next Generation are named after the South Riverdale street of the same name.
Character and Culture
Riverdale is a thriving residential neighbourhood in Toronto, located just east of the downtown core. Since its amendment to the City of Toronto in 1884, it has developed a stature as a neighbourhood of independent arts, with several independent galleries located along Queen Street East. The residential landscape within Riverdale is made up primarily of Victorian and Edwardian style homes, constructed in the 1800s as boarding rooms for the working-class. Many of the residences have since been redeveloped into homes for young families with homes redesigned to fit the tree-lined streetscape. The has dramatically increased the housing value over the years and with many young professionals as some of the current residents, Riverdale is now a trendy and expensive residential district.
's character is composed primarily from its multiculturalism; with several cultural neighbourhoods along its major paths. Danforth Avenue
(commonly referred to as Greek Town
) has a high concentration of Greek restaurants
while Gerrard Street East
and parts of Broadview Avenue
are home to a variety of Asian shops and restaurants (referred to as East Chinatown
). South of Queen Street East
are several large corporate film studios extending down to the waterfront. Riverdale
is always home to the Gerrard Square Mall
; which features a variety of retail, restaurant, and small shops. The neighbourhood's character is also defined by the CN Railway
, which separates the area into two districts, North Riverdale
(north of the tracks) which is primarily residential (for the exception of Gerrard Square Mall
and The Danforth and South Riverdale
(south to the Lakeshore) where a more affluent and wealthy character is seen in the bistros and coffee shops located along Queen Street East
is also home to three large recreational parks; Riverdale Park
, adjacent to the Don River
, Withrow Park
, in the North Riverdale
, and Jimmie Simpson Park
, in the South. These three parks serve as great landmarks within the neighbourhood that many residents use for various activities, from swimming in outdoor pools to tobogganing down the steep hills in Riverdale Park
during the wintertime. These are the most common outdoor spaces within the area and according to Toronto's Official Plan, are to be preserved as an area of green space in the years to come.
Quest Alternative School
is the area's original alternative middle school, and one of the first in Toronto
. Consisting of 68 students and 4 staff, Quest celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008. The school's motto is: "Structure to learn and freedom to grow", and its focus is on student-centered learning and diverse curriculum.
East Alternative School of Toronto
is another local alternative middle school, specializing in social justice and visual arts. It also has 68 students and accepts students from all over Toronto.
is located on Montcrest Boulevard
and several houses on Broadview Avenue
just north of Riverdale Park
. The school is relatively small with just over 300 students, which leads to a much more personal environment. Montcrest School
has classes from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, Montcrest school is also a private school who has been in operation since 1961, previously operating under the name The January School. Montcrest is a non-denominational school, and has offered an enhanced education program for children with learning special educationneeds.
is also home to Bridgepoint Health
(formerly Riverdale Hospital), and the Don Jail, both at the corner of Broadview Avenue
and Gerrard Street East
The Riverdale Zoo
was Toronto's zoo logical park before the opening of the Toronto Zoo
in the early 1970s. Now called Riverdale Farm
, it continues as an educational farm for school children and the general public. Oddly, Riverdale Farm
is not actually in the Riverdale neighbourhood, but is located west of the Don River
. The two neighbourhoods are closely linked even though they are separated by the Don River
. Also home to the former of location of the Ralph Day Funeral Home
which has since been relocated from its location on Danforth Avenue
east of Broadview Avenue
Parks and Recreation
There are three medium to large sized parks in Riverdale
. At the west edge between Broadview Avenue
and the Don Valley Parkway
just north of Bridgepoint Health is Riverdale Park
. This park features a running track, three baseball diamonds, a skating rink, a public swimming pool and tennis courts. Just to the east of Riverdale Park
is Withrow Park
which has a large off-leash dog area, an ice rink, two baseball diamonds, play structures, and a soccer field. In South Riverdale
is Jimmy Simpson Park
which contains tennis courts and a community centre. In the southwest corner just north of Queen St. East
is the Royal Canadian Curling Club
. The curling club features 6 sheets and hosts leagues for about 500 members. The last park in RIverdale located further east along Blake Street
isKempton Howard Park
(formerly East View Park) and was renamed in 2007 in honour of a youth worker who was killed in 2003 in the Blake/Boultbee community in which he lived and worked.
Neighbourhoods within Riverdale
Riverdale is often said to refer to the stretch of Toronto east of the Don Valley Parkway and west ofJones, between Danforth Avenue (north) and Gerrard Street (south). However, this area is usually referred to as North Riverdale, and Riverdale itself covers a much wider area and includes many smaller communities, usually centred around a 'high street' or commercial area.
South Riverdale, as its name suggests, is the southern half of the Riverdale neighbourhood. Its approximate boundaries are: the Don Valley Parkway to the west, Jones Ave. to the east, Gerrard Street East to the north, and Lake Shore Boulevard to the south.
With the gentrification of Queen East almost complete, South Riverdale, which encompasses Leslieville, has become a trendy neighbourhood where young professionals and creative types wander past hip cafés, hot restaurants, chic boutiques and oodles of funky furniture stores. Beyond the main strip, the area has a lot going for it: the generous amount of green space includes Greenwood Park (for outdoor swimming, baseball and an ice rink), the Leslie Street Spit (the city’s best birdie venue) and Cherry Beach. This idyllic combination of fashion, nature and convenience comes at a price, however. Semis that once went for under $300,000 now start at $400,000 and up. Public transit users mostly rely on streetcars to ferry them over the Don to downtown.
South Riverdale comprises many smaller neighbourhoods:
Riverside, formerly known as the Queen Broadview Village is a small neighbourhood located within the larger neighbourhood of South Riverdale. Definite boundaries have never been drawn for Riverside, but according to the Riverside Business Improvement Area Plan's definitions it can be assumed that the borders are the Don River to the west, Gerrard St. East to the north, Logan Avenue to the east andEastern Ave. to the south.
Riverside is a mixed income and largely multicultural neighbourhood currently experiencing a trend of gentrification along Queen St. East and Broadview Ave. While it is a small neighbourhood it is home to several places of note such as the former Don Destructor, Toronto's only garbage incinerator, and Don Mount Court, a social housing project that is under redevelopment and will be rebuilt as part of a mixed social housing and market value community. The market value portion is being sold under the name Rivertowne. Unquestionably, the biggest landmark in the neighbourhood is the New Broadview House Hotel, a romanesque hotel constructed in 1893 that was the tallest structure in South Riverdale for several decades. Other major landmarks include the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Broadview Lofts, and The Opera House.
The area was once home to a large young population which is evident in the cluster of schools just east of Broadview Ave. Dundas Jr. Public School is the resident school for children in kindergarten through to fifth grade, after which they are transferred over to Queen Alexandra Sr. Public School which sees students through to eighth grade. It is also home First Nations School of Toronto, a cultural survival school that places heavy emphasis on aboriginal values and culture, and the current location of SEED Alternative Secondary School, Canada's first public alternative school.
Toronto's second largest 'china town', also known as East Chinatown is found at Broadview & Gerrard.
The southern part of South Riverdale, just north of the Port Lands, is what's called the Studio District. Industrial warehouses along Lakeshore Avenue house production studios and many people working in film and television live in the old Victorians found along the area's side streets. Carlaw and Queen has become an arts hub, with many artists choosing to run their studios from the various work-live lofts.
Blake-Jones is a section of tree-lined streets with residences built from the 1870s to 1930s. The neighbourhood extends along Jones Avenue commencing at the cemetery south of Strathcona and extending down to Hunter. It is bordered by Danforth Avenue to the north, Pape Avenue to the west,Greenwood Avenue to the east and the CN Railway tracks just south of Riverdale/Boultbee Avenue to the south. Houses along Blake Street are more affordable in this neighbourhood than in many areas of the city because most of the homes are semi-detached. There are also a significant amount of residents within public housing, residing in apartment and townhouse complex of Blake/Boultbee, owned by Toronto Community Housing. With a 33.3% unemployment rate in youth aged 15–19 (City of Toronto, 2006), the Blake-Jones corridor of Riverdale has seen an increase in crime within recent years. Part of this may be as a result of the exclusionary design of the Blake/Boultbee community houses, with row house units facing inward, isolated from the street and only accessible via narrow walking paths. This design gives the Blake/Boultbee community a sense of uniqueness and pride, with many residents proud of the community in which they live. It is unlike the surrounding semi-detached housing landscape; dense in population and strong in cultural diversity . Perhaps these are factors that have increased the poverty and unemployment among residents, although this cannot be confirmed. What is confirmed, however, is the need for replacing the aged row house units with new ones, allowing for new and improved use of space by current and future residents. Toronto Community Housing should be looking to take action regarding this proposed change.
There are three local elementary schools zoned to the area; Blake Street (which also houses East end Alternative), Earl Grey, and Pape Avenue. The high school that is zoned to the area is Riverdale Collegiate Institute. There is also an alternative high school, Eastern Commerce, in the Donlands/Danforth area.
The neighbourhood is served by the Pape, Donlands,
and Greenwood subway stations
and the 72 Pape
and 83 Jones bus routes
and is also home to the Greenwood Subway Yard
, a distinguished landmark within the area.
Located within Blake-Jones is an area residents refer to as The Pocket. Over time there have been some differences on the exact definition of the area, but currently the Pocket is understood to be "accessible only from the west along Jones Avenue". This would indicate that the area would be bordered by Chatham Street at the north (which itself is not accessible from Jones), and on the southern end by Boultbee Ave. The Eastern side is bordered by the TTC Greenwood yard. The name "The Pocket" was created by area residents during a planning session attended by Susan McMurray, also an editor of a newsletter for the area. The name has stuck in part because of the "village feel" of the community, and has become well used by residents and realtors in the area. The neighbourhood is listed as one the ten hottest areas in Toronto Life and is described as "coveted" by the Globe and Mailindicating that buyers will pay a premium to live in the community.
The Pocket has been experiencing a gentrification similar of that to the most of Riverdale and other neighbourhoods within Toronto. For the Pocket this started in the 1990s.
The area benefits from a strong group of volunteers, such as Jeff Otto, who have done much to make the area safer and prettier.Such projects as cleaning up and renaming Ben Kerr Lane, an annual street party on Dawson Avenue, street sales, organized pot lucks, not to mention a great number of improvements to Phin Park. Phin Park has had a number of mature trees planted along its central lighted walkway, an outdoor ice rink created every winter, the placement of large boulders removed during street work, and the building of a gazebo next to the playground for parents to cool off while their children play. Throughout the year there are events at the park organized and paid for by the community including monthly movie nights and an excellent fireworks show on Victoria Day. Another beautification project included building a small orchard and community garden area north of theGreenwood TTC yard.
The Pocket has an above average number of people from the Muslim and Greek Orthodox communities living in the area.
Some Riverdale residents differentiate between "upper" and "lower" Riverdale. "Upper Riverdale" is characterized as the part of the neighbourhood north of Riverdale Ave., and "Lower Riverdale" is the area south of Riverdale Ave. In terms of the quality of the housing supply, homes built in "upper Riverdale" are more likely to be renovated, but "Lower Riverdale" contains more original and classic designs of the late 19th century. There are a number of remarkable century-old homes built onSimpson and Langley Avenues, the latter street named after Toronto's well-known early 20th century architect, and the former featuring the oldest Victorian houses in Riverdale. Of note, Simpson Avenue is home to the original six houses of Riverdale; located at the west end of the street and locally known as the 'Six Sisters.' The area bounded by Dundas St. East in the south, Jones Ave. to the east, the railway tracks to the north, and Carlaw Ave. to the west is also referred to by local residents as "Badgerow," after a residential street that runs through the centre of that area. This pocket includes the legendaryMaple Leaf Tavern, as well as a Sikh temple, Turkish cultural centre and Jewish cemetery, in addition to the Gerrard Square shopping mall.
Real Estate in South Riverdale
HOUSING STOCK: The area is a mix of charming Victorian and Edwardian brick semis and row houses, post-war stock and newer townhouses. Most abodes come with character, or reno opportunities. Lots tend to be smaller, with narrow fronts and driveways. The finest houses are between Queen and Dundas.
BARGAIN ZONES: Real bargains are hard to come by, but prices tend to be lower between Eastern and the industrial lands to the south. Properties next to the railway, which cuts diagonally through the neighbourhood, go cheaper.
THE VERDICT: With its “It” neighbourhood status and relative affordability, buyers come looking for more space than a condo provides. Large families may find the houses slightly cramped
Riverdale is in the political riding of Toronto-Danforth, and is currently represented in the Ontario provincial parliament by Peter Tabuns, deputy leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario. Municipally, Riverdale is in Toronto Ward 30, represented by Toronto city councill or Paula Fletcher. Federally it was represented by Jack Layton, the late leader of the federal New Democrats, but the seat became vacant upon his death.
Federally the riding, known for many years as Broadview and then Broadview—Greenwood, has been represented by New Democrats from 1962 (the first federal election after the party was formed) until 1988, when Liberal Dennis Mills won the seat. Mills held the riding until 2004, when the New Democratic Party regained the seat in the 2004 Canadian federal election.
Provincially, the riding was known as Riverdale from the 1914 Ontario provincial election until the 1999 Ontario provincial election when the number of provincial ridings were reduced and given the same borders and names as federal ridings, in this case Broadview—Greenwood and, more recently, Toronto—Danforth. In all its guises it has elected a New Democrat in every election since 1963.
The 1964 Riverdale by-election set the model for NDP campaigns. Under the campaign management of Gerald Caplan, and Stephen Lewis, and Marjorie Pinney the NDP canvassed every household three times, identified all their supporters, and then they got out the vote. This strategy is also known as PIG, Persuade, Identify, Get out the vote. Lawyer James Renwick won with 7,287 votes compared to 5,774 votes for the Conservatives and 5,771 votes for the Liberals.
Members of Provincial Parliament for Riverdale
Joseph Russell, Conservative, 1914–1919
Joseph McNamara, Soldier, 1919–1923
George Oakley, Conservative, 1923–1934
Robert Aloysius Allen, Liberal, 1934–1936
William Summerville, Conservative, 1937–1943
Leslie Wismer, Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, 1943–1945
Gordon Millen, Progressive Conservative, 1945–1948
Leslie Wismer, Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, 1948–1951
Robert Macaulay, Progressive Conservative, 1951–1964
James Renwick, New Democratic Party, 1964–1984
David Reville, New Democratic Party, 1985–1990
Marilyn Churley, New Democratic Party, 1990–2005
Peter Tabuns, New Democratic Party, 2006–present
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