This neighbourhood located at the southwestern end of Toronto isn’t known for its trendy boutiques, up and coming bars and Avant Garde restaurants. Instead, this is an area known strictly for its homes, stunning canopy of mature trees and impressive lawns. This is one of those areas where residents stay in their homes forever because once they experience the sense of security its quiet streets offer; they never want to leave. It’s become one of Toronto’s most cherished family neighbourhoods where parents longing to find solace from a city they feel is getting too big and too noisy want to raise their kids. It’s not just about the beauty of the quiet streets, but also about the strong sense of neighbourly love that makes it a wonderful place to call home. It’s an easy commute to the downtown core on the Gardiner or TTC, is close to amenities albeit more low-key suburban in nature than vibrant city colour spots, and close to many a city park moments from the lake. If you’re not looking to live in the heart of it all, but are seeking a peaceful area to hang your hat and rest your weary bones, then Alderwood is definitely the place for you.
Bordered by Evans Avenue to the north, the train tracks to the south, Kipling Avenue to the east and Etobicoke Creek to the west, Alderwood was originally known as New Toronto Park or New Toronto Heights. Often referred to as “the place above the tracks”, it was the home to the famous Vaudeville sister team, the O’Connors who performed with the likes of Jimmie Durante, Al Jolson, and Sophia Tucker in the 1910s. However, the area history begins much earlier than that.
Once part of the Colonel Samuel Smith Tract of land which spanned all the way to Bloor to the north and the lake to the south, there were many 100-acre farms slotted for settlement here. In fact, many of the main streets in Alderwood were named after some of the more prominent original farm owners. The first permanent settler was Joseph Brown who emigrated from Yorkshire, England, in 1831. His farm was located on the west side of "Brown's Line" between Evans and North Queen.
However, the Ashfield Farm located between Horner and Evans Avenues east from Brown's Line is the most well-known farm in the area. It was larger than many properties with three 100-acre lots sitting side by side. However it was the manor house on the property built by Toronto merchant Archibald Cameron that added prominence to the farm. Built in 1850 it was an impressive home with an extravagant 14 rooms. When Cameron suffered financial issues, the home was purchased by Daniel Fisher Horner, a real estate broker. When natural gas was discovered at the site of the Mimico Asylum under construction in 1891, a well was sunk on the Ashfield property. This provided gas to area homes until 1917 when the manor was wired for electricity. The home was a Toronto landmark up until 2009 when it was demolished to make way for townhomes.
In 1889 a brick schoolhouse was built on the south side of Horner Avenue. However, the Ontario and Quebec Railway wanted to run a spur line from Islington to Lakeshore right through the schoolyard in 1910. An agreement was made that the railway would provide land for a new school, and build the school and playground. This was the Franklin Horner School, a 1-room building with some very innovative additions including wall-mounted slate blackboards, individual desks for students and glass windows to let in natural light. As the population grew in the area, a four-room addition was built in 1926, and the school educated kids until 1984 when it shut down due to low enrollment. It’s now a community centre.
The Toronto and Mimico Electric Railway and Light Co. was formed in 1890 to take on the job of building streetcars on Lake Shore Road. At the same time this was underway, the Mimico Real Estate Security Co. was helping establish the industrial area of New Toronto. It wasn’t until the summer of 1895 that the streetcars reached as far as Etobicoke Creek. Meanwhile, small lots were being sold on Kipling from Lake Shore Road to Horner Avenue.
In 1909 the Middle Road Bridge, the first concrete truss bridge in Canada, was built at Evans Avenue spanning the creek. The bridge was deemed safe when a herd of cattle made it across without incident.
After World War I the area really began to change. In 1918 the farm located on the northwest corner of Brown’s Line at the tracks was purchased by Edgar T. Stephens. The land was subdivided for housing development with many unusual street names such as Fosh, Gort, and Haig as well as Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta after the Greek alphabet. However, it was after World War II that most of the homes that exist today were built.
In 1931 a volunteer fire brigade was organized for Alderwood. At around the same time, the local Taxpayers' Association decided to apply for a local Post Office. It opened in a small store on Horner Avenue at Delta Street in 1935 and closed in 1958. Although it was meant to be named Alderwood, it opened as Brown’s Line post office. However, Alderwood was soon adopted as the name of the neighbourhood. It is based on the indigenous township name Etobicoke, which means the place where the alders grow.
Today the neighbourhood’s mature trees, elegant bungalows and one and storey-and-a-half houses stand as a testament to the area’s strong sense of community and longevity.
Located just 20 minutes from the downtown core, it’s an easy drive on the Gardiner or Lakeshore. You can also take the bus on Browns Line, Evans, and Horner Avenue to the Long Branch Go Transit and TTC station on Lakeshore Boulevard. If you’re traveling away from the city, you can access Highway 427 North on-ramps at Browns Line and Evans Avenue and the Queen Elizabeth Way on-ramp off Evans Avenue.
We’ve already alluded to the fact this neighbourhood isn’t known for its fancy shops and restaurants. However, where Brown’s Line meets Lake Shore Avenue, you’ll find a tiny selection of locally owned shops and restaurants. Most Alderwood residents head to Sheridan Gardens and the other big box stores and chain restaurants in that area. It’s about five minutes by car, making it super convenient. Most everything you need can be found there.
As a family friendly community, the hot spots here are centered on family fun and staying active. For example, Alderwood Pool offers all kinds of programs including Aqua Tot, Aqua Quest and Aqua Fit. The pool is connected to Sir Adam Beck Centre, a multi-use recreational facility built on the former Sir Adam Beck School Grounds. It includes a new primary school/public library, community space, a daycare centre, and a fitness room. The Alderwood Public Library offers all kinds of children’s and adult programming throughout the year.
The streets are not the only place you’ll find calming green trees and lawns. Etobicoke Valley Park is located at the end of the Etobicoke Creek Interpretive Trail, a 2.5-kilometre trail beginning at Marie Curtis Park at the lake. At the centre of the area is Alderwood Memorial Park, a sprawling green space complete with a popular children’s playground.
The peace and quiet of Alderwood are a major draw for families looking for a safe place to raise their kids. As condos and new builds begin to appear, more young couples are finding their way here as well. Most families have younger children, and close to 80% own their homes. You’ll also find most are high income earners, well above the average income in Toronto. Original homeowners who have raised their family here and retired, also occupy homes on the sleepy streets.
The Best Part
Alderwood offers the quiet life, where the sleepy streets are safe and peaceful, everyone knows their neighbours and there are no distractions to take away from your solitude.
The Worst Part
This is no place for people looking to live a fun-filled life tasting flights at trendy craft breweries, enjoying late morning coffee dates and sipping wine in low-lit bistros. It’s strictly a bedroom community with the basic amenities families tend to thrive on.
The Real Estate
Alderwood’s lovely streets offer an impressive selection of homes built between the 1920s and 1950s. Here you’ll find row upon row of bungalows and storey-and-a-half houses on storybook streets shaded by mature trees. You’ll also find modern semi-detached and detached homes built on properties where owners chose to tear down the charming original homes. Many houses in the area have been renovated with all the modern interior aesthetics. It’s the perfect balance of original architecture exteriors meeting state of the art interiors. However, the one thing most properties in Alderwood share is their well-manicured lawns, lovely gardens, and obvious pride of ownership. The private driveways and garages that seem to elude many Toronto neighbourhoods are commonplace in Alderwood.
Some condo developments are appearing north of Evans Avenue as well as south of Alderwood, at Lakeshore. New housing developments feature various options including three-storey homes with all the latest in eco-friendly construction practices. Older bungalows and new condos start as low as the high $500s and homes go up well beyond the $1 million mark for major renovations and new builds on mature streets.
Are you thinking about calling Alderwood your new home?
Contact us today, and we can get started on finding you a home in this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood