New Toronto is what some might call a “Streetcar Suburb.” Located between Mimico and Long Branch, its southern border is Toronto’s western shoreline. It feels like it’s a lot farther from the city, much like its older sister, The Beaches. Sitting at the most western point of Toronto before you get to what most would consider the burbs, New Toronto’s charm checks a lot of boxes. Its proximity to the lake, its direct line to the city via the streetcar and its main drag dotted with all the trendy shops, restaurants, cafés and pet services city dwellers love make it an area on the verge of fabulous. In fact, the charm and eclectic look of the Lakeshore Village shopping district is often used for television and movie production. The area is still in its gentrification period, making it a more exciting prospect for home buyers. As it transitions from an industrial corridor, the area’s possibilities are limitless. New home developments will prove to be more affordable then many established condo areas like Liberty Village, Leslieville or Humber Bay. And like Leslieville and Liberty Village, the industrial aspect means you might find some conversions that could be quite edgy. It even has an artist community on the site of the ex-Goodyear Tire factory. All things considered the hip name, lakefront location, tons of parkland and industrial edginess make this the next neighbourhood in-the-know Torontonians will want to be.
New Toronto is bounded by Twenty-Third Street to the west, Dwight Avenue to the east, the GO Rail Line/Lake Ontario to the South and New Toronto Street/railyards to the north. The area was created when a group of Toronto manufacturers were looking for a new spot to build a “factory town.” Led by Thomas McDonald, they based their plans on a lakefront industrial area in Rochester, NY. In late 1889, New Toronto Manufacturers' Company was established along with the Mimico Real Estate Security Co Ltd, and the Toronto and Mimico Electric Railway and Light Co Ltd all owned by real estate broker, Joseph Barrett.
The plans for New Toronto were registered on January 16, 1890, for a subdivision located from Lakeshore Road north to Commercial Street. An area was allotted for local worker housing from First Street to Seventh Street while both sides of Eighth Street were slated for industry. On October 25, 1890, the Toronto Globe reported 10 factories established in the area. However, despite the plans, there wasn’t enough housing allotted for the workers. Instead, many had to live in tents in the three blocks reserved for parks.
Companies in the area included a stamping and boiler making machinery company, a foundry, an engine and chandelier manufacturer, a barb wire company, and a brass works facility producing plumbing and engineers' supplies. The brass and rolling mills were so busy the local pump house was enlarged, becoming the New Toronto Water Supply.
Although the Mimico Real Estate and Security Co was declared insolvent by 1897 it didn’t stop industry growth in the area. Other companies included the Menzies' Wallpaper Factory which later became Canadian Wallpaper Manufacturing Limited, the Interior Wood Decorating Company, Ritchie and Ramsay who produced coated papers and DuPont's Fabrikoid factory.
The site for an asylum was acquired in the late spring of 1888 on the property now known as Colonel Samuel Smith Park. By late 1889 two cottages were completed for patients. During construction small amounts of natural gas and oil were discovered, forming the New Toronto Oil & Natural Gas Co Ltd in March 1892.
In 1906 when the Grand Trunk Railway opened repair shops, a roundhouse, and a freight yard it helped attract even more industry to New Toronto. Rapid growth led to its incorporation as a Town in 1920. During this period, the area advertised it had the “highest value of manufacturing per square mile in North America.” It turned out to be true. The area was also able to offer one of the lowest residential tax rates in Toronto.
Demand for rubber in World War I welcomed the Goodyear Tire plant to New Toronto in 1917. By World War II it employed 2,800 employees and remained operational until 1987.
Homes began to pop up in 1918 when the New Toronto Housing Commission built 42 English Cottage style homes for factory workers on 8th Street. The area survived the Great Panic of 1893 and following the Crash of 1929, Reeve W.E. MacDonald created the New Toronto Industrial Commission. Major companies alongside DuPont and Goodyear included Campbell's Soup, W. & A. Gilbey, George Williams Shoes, and Continental Can.
Also in 1918, the Donnell and Mudge tannery was established which soon became a leading company in the industry. It turned out millions of feet of leathers each year and became one of the largest sheepskin tanners in the Dominion. During WWII, the tannery employed German prisoners much to the chagrin of residents and city councilors.
New Toronto was amalgamated in 1967 with the former Township of Etobicoke. In 1988, the Robert Daniels Group purchased the old Goodyear site to develop Lakeshore Village. Throughout the 1990s housing developments began to replace local industry, making a slow transition from a working man’s area to a young professional neighbourhood.
Located on the convenient 501 streetcar route you can ride the car into downtown Toronto. The area also offers bus service along Lake Shore Boulevard West connecting to the Mimico and Long Branch Go Transit service and to downtown Toronto’s Union Station. It’s a short 15-minute drive along Lake Shore Boulevard or the Gardiner Expressway to downtown Toronto.
Locals love Lakeshore Boulevard West’s Lakeshore Village shopping district. The bustling “main street” offers one of Toronto’s best kept secrets, with a busy retail corridor featuring fast food, locally owned restaurants, shops, grocers, bakeries, delis, cafés, and all the convenience stores and services you could need.
The expanse of waterfront parks includes the massive Colonel Samuel Smith Park, home to the first Wetlands-Wildlife Restoration trail on the Great Lakes. Thriving wildlife includes fish and birds, frogs, garter snakes, painted turtles, and a bevy of stunning wildflowers. It’s also home to the illustrious Lakeshore Yacht Club. Locals and savvy skaters frequent the unique skating rink in the winter. The figure 8 trail winds through the park which is transformed into a winter wonderland when it snows. It’s the best place to skate sans hockey sticks and pucks in the city. Night skating is charming and romantic with glowing lamp posts and Christmas carols playing during the holiday season. Some of the oldest buildings in Toronto are also located within the park, including the former converted asylum buildings which now house part of Humber College.
The area is dotted with small parks along the lake offering some of the most glorious views of the city and waterfront. The parks are also known for some of the most enjoyable biking and hiking trails in Toronto. The New Toronto Seniors Centre and New Toronto Public Library provide all kinds of programs ideal for people of all ages.
Although New Toronto was home to working class families well into the late 1980s, it’s now attracting residents from a wide mix of cultures and incomes. Many homeowners have been here for decades, representing a fair population of seniors. However, young professionals are beginning to catch on this is the next place to be thanks to gentrification and growing interest in the eclectic Lakeshore Village strip.
The Best Part
This west end village is in the mid-stages of gentrification. It offers all the trendy possibilities of an industrial area on the verge of desirability. That means it’s edgy yet homey, hip yet relatable and best of all, still very affordable.
The Worst Part
Although it’s right on the 501-streetcar line and close to the GO, the ride into town via public transit can still take up to an hour.
The Real Estate
Home buyers seeking small frames, brick bungalows and two storey houses will find a nice selection built between the 1910’s and the 1950’s. You can also shop for larger single-family homes closer to the lake, just south of Lake Shore Boulevard. The area offers a very respectable variety of detached single-family homes, new townhouses, bungalows, and apartment towers. It’s becoming a popular choice for home buyers looking for a Beaches-esque neighbourhood but with homes at half the price.
The area’s Lakeshore Village subsidized housing development includes a funky artist’s co-op, townhouses, and condos. If you’re looking for new housing, the area north of Birmingham Road, between Islington and Kipling Avenues, is primed for development.
The area has some top-rated schools including:
JK to Grade 8
Second Street Junior Middle School, 71 Second St, Etobicoke, 416-394-7640
JK to Grade 5
Twentieth Street Junior School, 3190 Lake Shore Blvd W, Etobicoke, 416-394-7810
Lakeshore Collegiate Institute, 350 Kipling Ave, Etobicoke, 416-394-7650
Are you thinking about calling New Toronto your new home?
Contact us today, and we can get started on finding you a home in this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood