This is a distinctly urban community taking up a tiny strip heading north on Pape. A combination of homes and businesses make this a typical TO mixed use neighbourhood where Greek Town’s touristy bustle is left behind. Instead, the true Greek spirit is found in friendly, locally owned, and operated shops, restaurants, and small businesses frequented by the Greek speaking residents of the area. This is a very family-friendly community with a slightly edgy vibe thanks to the eclectic businesses along Pape. We consider Pape Village one of Toronto’s best kept secrets.
Pape Village is bordered by Carlaw to the west, Donlands to the east, Danforth to the south and O’Connor to the north. It was originally Lot 11 south of York Township back in the late 1700s and known as Chester or Doncaster.
Original landowners included the Taylors of Taylor Creek fame and the Helliwells who took up lots of land in the area known as Todmorden. Both Todmorden and Chester applied to become part of the City of Toronto in 1890, but they didn’t have the required population to be considered for annexing. However, in 1909, Chester did qualify and was added to Toronto’s borders.
Some of the original Edwardian homes were built in 1914 and can still be spotted on Pape between Selkirk and Aldwych. In the early 1920s Pape Avenue began to grow with the construction of the two new bridges connecting them to the city -- the Prince Edward and East York-Leaside Viaducts. This attracted the of more homes and commercial buildings.
The East York bus line ran from Danforth Avenue up Pape and looped back at the bridge. In the late 1920s the line extended to provide service to the industrial area still located in Leaside today. The East York-Leaside Viaduct is now known as the Millwood Bridge.
The area was home to mostly Anglo-Saxon blue-collar workers attracted to jobs at the local brick works and paper mill. Other jobs were provided by competing retailers, T. Eaton Co., and R. Simpson Co., as well as the Grand Trunk and Canadian National Railways.
A famous landmark, Agnes Macphail Square, is where the Kitchener Public School was built in 1915. In 1941 it became the Toronto Normal School and later Toronto Teacher’s College. It’s now part of Centennial College where you’ll also find a housing complex and park. The Square is named after the first woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1921.
In the 1930s, one of the first businesses run by the Italian and predominantly Greek population was a produce store located at 873-877 Pape Avenue. However, the oldest landmark in Pape Village is Don Mills United Church, built in the 19th century. The Taylor Cemetery on the plot of land beside the church is where the wealthy Todmorden family is buried.
Other important dates for Pape Village include the construction of O’Connor Drive in 1936, the east-west route which led to the Woodbine Bridge. This provided easier passage towards Scarborough to the east and Toronto to the west.
Following World War II, Greek migrants made their way to Toronto. Many opened successful restaurants and markets in the area, leading to the establishment of Greek town along the Danforth. The population grew throughout the 1950s and well into the 1970s, spreading north on Pape. Today this is the area preferred by Greek residents to shop and dine.
In the 1960s, Cosburn Avenue became a hotspot for apartment buildings attracting Toronto families in need of affordable housing. In 1986, the area was named Pape Village when the Pape Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) was established. The group continues to manage and promote local businesses, including street improvements and festivals celebrating the eclectic neighbourhood, people, homes and businesses that call Pape Village home.
This ideally situated neighbourhood has excellent travel options with access to the Pape Subway station, the Don Valley Parkway and a 15-minute drive into the city. Although it’s also a few minutes’ walk to the shops and restaurants of the Danforth, it offers its own local strip of businesses on Pape itself. This is where locals prefer to shop with both locally owned grocers and bakers and major chains to choose from.
You’ll find a smaller, yet just as exciting selection of Greek delicacies at the bakeries and restaurants on Pape where locals enjoy their own private mini-Greek town experience. From sipping coffee and munching on Greek pastries at trendy cafés to shots of ouzo on lively patios on sultry summer evenings, Pape Village offers everything you need all within walking distance.
It’s not just food conveniences you’ll discover. You’ll also find all the services you need from banks to medical offices. The odd wall off Pape features colourful murals including a scene painted by Greek-Toronto street artist BamBam. This is a tribute to the micro ‘hood’s growing community vibe.
As mentioned, this is a small community consisting of about 1,200 families. The population is family heavy with 66 percent of households having kids. People still speak Greek here, but there is also a growing community of Asian families and businesses helping to create a more diverse mix of people. Due to the large number of apartments in the area, 58 percent of residents rent. This is also the reason you’ll find many singles and young couples attracted to the affordable rentals and convenient urban location.
The Best Part
Not too many people are wise to the charms of this thriving area. This keeps its secrets safe with the residents who get to enjoy the vibrant main strip sans the crowds.
The Worst Part
While the area is super convenient, the density of apartments makes the streets a little more congested then neighbourhoods dominated by houses.
The Real Estate
This is probably one of the most eclectic neighbourhoods in Toronto. Here you’ll find tiny one-off bungalows or little strips of Edwardian detached houses nestled between local businesses. Side streets include low-rise and high-rise rental buildings, as well as an assortment of diverse home sizes and styles. While you’ll find a good number of fixer uppers here, you’re looking at an average price tag of about $1 million for a 3-bedroom detached. Many homes in the area are newer, built in the 1980s, but you can still get your hands on the original homes built at the turn of the century and post-World War II.
Keeping in mind this is a tiny area, there’s only one school within the immediate borders:
JK to Grade 5
William Burgess Elementary School, 100 Torrens Avenue, 416-396-2490
Are you thinking about calling Pape Village your new home?
Contact us today, and we can get started on finding you a home in this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood