Much like its rather posh name suggests, Parkview Hills is an upper-crust tiny niche of homes on the outskirts of East York. It has the “airs” of Toronto’s best neighbourhoods such as Rosedale, but because it’s so very out of the way, it holds an almost country-like modesty. It’s quiet and cut off from the rest of the area thanks to the ravine and parkland of Taylor Creek at the foot of Woodbine bridge. That means it manages to maintain its distance from the smaller, unassuming homes one thinks of when they picture East York. If you don’t need all the trendy shops and illustrious stigma of living in a ‘hood like say Leaside or Rosedale, this could be the find of a lifetime.
There’s not much history available about this neck of the woods, a tiny pocket of quiet streets bordered by Taylor Creek Ravine to the south, O’Connor Drive to the east, and the Don Valley to the west. It’s almost triangular footprint’s border comes to a peak to the north where Northline Road ends at O’Connor. The area used to be an estate owned by the Taylor family. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because not surprisingly the family are also the namesakes of the lovely Taylor Creek ravine, a prominent feature of the area.
The family arrived in the 1820's and promptly built an empire including the still famous Don Valley Brick Works, the site of a popular Toronto park. They also had a series of mills that generated much revenue towards their dynasty. They didn’t live on the estate, but were part of the subdividing of the land including the naming of several of the streets. They used the species of trees found in the picturesque forested landscape as their inspiration and the charm of the names such as Alder, Aspen and White Pine add to the upscale feel to the neighbourhood.
Willian Pugh who also helped subdivide the land, named the United church, school and main street Presteign, after his hometown in Wales. It wasn’t until 1947 that the first homes were built at the Parkview Hills subdivision where the cottage like bungalows were common. The original homes sold for under $10,000. Paved roads didn’t arrive until 1955 which was around the same time the popular ravine and creek below was no longer safe for recreational use thanks to industrial pollution. Fear not, today the parkland is a safe and popular area to enjoy down time beneath the shady trees, sprawled on the generous lawns or enjoying the well-maintained trails.
Parkview Hills is just minutes to the Don Valley Parkway and has its own designated bus route that travels directly to Woodbine subway station about 15 or 20 minutes away. Its biggest attraction aside from its upscale homes is its proximity to Taylor Creek Ravine and Don Valley. It’s these lovely views and secluded parkland that create an exclusive feel to the area. It’s close to the small, humble St. Clair East and O’Connor shopping area with a selection of shops nearby including a Home Depot and the Peak Freans factory store outlet. Anyone who grew up around here will remember the smell of cookies baking when the wind conditions were just right. It’s reasonably close to the Danforth, about 15 minutes by car, and Eglington Square shopping mall about five minutes to the north. Interestingly, the industrial area that is hidden along Bermondsey offers some finds including a local brewery, ice cream factory and a climbing academy. It’s anyone’s guess what else might pop up here if the brewery manages to attract the right group of people. Despite its small size, the Parkview Hills Community Association is quite active, hosting a fair number of low-key annual neighbourhood events. It is very family focused here with a well rated school, featuring a recently built playground and soccer fields. This is a popular area for families, who also appreciate Taylor Creek’s 10 kilometers of walking and biking trails that lead from Warden Avenue in the east to Edwards Gardens in the west. It is safe, peaceful, and set apart from East York, but close enough to all its amenities to make it highly convenient and accessible.
Although you might not have heard of this very exclusive area, it was once home to hockey great Doug Gilmour whose former home is rumoured to have recently sold to the tune of about $2.4 million. Keiffer Sutherlund grew up here which means there were double stars in the area, since his dad is actor Donald Sutherland. The area is mostly well-off families of above average incomes and education.
The Best Part
Unlike other exclusive Toronto neighbourhoods, this one remains far more exclusive due to its smaller number of homes, well-protected borders, and unsurpassed lush ravine lots and views.
The Worst Part
Because of its highly exclusive location it’s also cut off from the higher end shopping and luxe dining associated with homes with this price tag.
The Real Estate
It’s not uncommon for residents of the area to establish their forever homes here. Once they make their purchase, they are less likely to choose to sell in this very desirable secret Eden. Because two of its borders are parkland, it has a highly exclusive, sequestered feel, making it hard to believe you’re in the city. The fact there’s only about 1,000 homes here, adds to its sense of exclusivity which is another reason the homes sell in the multi-millions. The style of homes adds to its understated elegance with small bungalows, two-storey houses and English country cottages. Some new developers or buyers with keen eyes for opportunity have also scooped up smaller homes for their large properties and private drives to build larger customized executive homes. However, even the bungalows here tend to have more to them, with stunningly finished, upgraded interiors. Mature trees, perfectly manicured lawns, ridiculously idyllically positioned ravine lots, professionally landscaped gardens and five-star hotel pools are also some of the generous upscale features you’ll find.
There’s just one school located directly in the area, but it’s highly regarded:
JK to Grade 5
Presteign Heights Public School, 2570 St Clair Avenue East, (416) 396-2430
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