This neighbourhood oozes old world charm, but with a quirky side. It has managed to remain a relatively condo free area in the Toronto area housing market, making major redevelopment at the former site of Toronto landmark retailer Honest Ed’s feel a little out of place. Fear not as the historic mansions and homes of the Annex still stand strong on tree-lined side streets with easy access to local businesses offering a unique variety of shops, foods and services. It’s also a popular hot spot frequented by students from the nearby University of Toronto keeping the area vibrant and thriving, while more and more prominent Toronto celebs choose to call the area home.
One of Toronto's most historic areas, The Annex spans north to Dupont Street, south to Bloor Street, west to Bathurst Street and east to Avenue Road.
The name The Annex was adopted when Yorkville was annexed in the late 1880’s to help make managing the area easier for the public works department. Developer Simeon Janes coined the phrase and was happy to use the area for his elite residential developments which became home to many of Toronto's wealthiest.
As home to the established upper echelon of the city's social sphere residents included Toronto moguls like Timothy Eaton and George Gooderham (you might recognize this name from the Distillery District’s Gooderham and Warts epitaph). Timothy Eaton was also the main funder of an area landmark, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre known back then as the Trinity Methodist Church. It’s now home to Toronto’s baroque orchestra, Tafelmusik as well as many educational and community programs.
Its status as a desirable area was much due to its proximity to important cultural and religious establishments including Trinity Methodist and the University of Toronto. Remnants of this period are prevalent in the stunning century homes that occupy the residential streets, many of which were made into multi-unit buildings to accommodate demand from University students seeking housing in the area. Recently many of these homes have been reverted to their original glory by young professionals who have fought tooth and nail to live in a Toronto area with such a prestigious history.
However, what the Annex may best be known for is the now-defunct iconic department store, Honest Ed’s. What started as a small business (a women's clothing store that stood just 5 metres wide) for local entrepreneur Ed Mirvish became a true Toronto icon, drawing tourists and locals alike to marvel at the over-the-top signage, explore the maze-like interior, and of course, take advantage of some of the best deals on household goods in the city. The Mirvish family oversaw operations and management for Honest Ed’s for nearly 60 years, until the property was sold in 2013 for mixed residential/commercial use. Although the Annex has seen significant changes over the past few years, it will no doubt remain one of the most alluring and charming regions of the Toronto area housing market.
The Annex real estate and location has every possible convenience within walking distance. Metro, Shoppers Drug Mart, mom and pop corner stores and grocery shops all line the busy Bloor Street strip. There’s no shortage of popular pubs, restaurants and bars with food from just about every culture from cheap and cheerful pizza joints to all you can eat sushi and cozy brunch spots to authentic Mexican. Getting around the city is extremely convenient with connections to the Yonge/University/Spadina and Bloor-Danforth lines via three subway stations: Spadina (east end of the neighbourhood), Dupont (north end) and Bathurst (west end). The 510 and 511 streetcar/bus routes are accessible along Spadina and Bathurst streets, respectively.
Most residents in the area are working-age individuals between the ages of 24-34. The proximity to the University of Toronto makes this area a popular place for students, not to mention prominent faculty members.
The Best Part
Take a walk down Palmerston, Brunswick or Albany and you'll be picking your jaw up off the ground within the first few minutes. Mature tree lined streets set the stage for both expertly maintained mansions and charming row houses. You'll be taking the long way home just to enjoy the scenery in this neighbourhood!
The Worst Part
The proximity to U of T has brought in some funkier cafes and bars frequented by clientele as rambunctious as the characters on Animal House. Although you might be rubbing elbows with some of Toronto’s richest including many with celebrity status the trade off is that you’ll also be exposed to some of the hardiest partiers.
The Real Estate
Annex real estate features some of the stateliest traditional Victorian homes in the city, located just steps westbound from the ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood. There's a regal yet friendly feel that encompasses this area where some of Toronto’s most prestigious downtown mansions are found. Although many have become frat houses for U of T organizations, the area is also home to mid-rise apartment buildings, and ‘smaller’ multi-unit homes. Many deep pocketed Torontonians seek to purchase multi-unit homes and turn them back into the spacious luxurious single-family houses they once were. You will find a mix of homes from street to street, but many streets are exceptionally grand featuring luxury detached homes shaded by massive mature trees.
Noted architectural highlights are common sites such as impressive stone arches and turrets that make a clear statement these homes are owned by people with money. Annex homes for sale in Toronto include an assortment of condos, townhomes, semi and fully detached houses.
The Annex is also one of the few neighbourhoods where you’ll find the rare and evasive co-ownership opportunity. Co-ownership buildings provided a loop hole for developers who wanted to get around regulations which stopped them from converting their buildings from rentals to condos. These highly desirable units are in mid-century apartment buildings that are well-maintained, rare and usually less expensive than a condo.
If you want to live in The Annex you’ll need to be very well off, inherit a home, or be prepared to settle on a smaller condo unit!
There are limited schools in The Annex with only one public school in the immediate area:
Huron Street Junior Public School. http://schoolweb.tdsb.on.ca/huronstreet/
541 Huron Street
Kindergarten to Grade 6
The only other public school nearby is:
Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School http://schoolweb.tdsb.on.ca/palmerston/
734 Palmerston Avenue
Kindergarten to Grade 6
Are you thinking about calling The Annex your new home?
Contact us today, and we can get started on finding you a home in this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood