This east end neighbourhood has all the makings of an area on the verge of gentrification that never quite made it. It always feels a little sleepier than the trendier areas across the bridge which is why it’s dominated by families seeking refuge from a city filled with hipsters, cocktail junkies, and craft beer snobs.
Woodbine Gardens is bordered by Victoria Park to the east, St. Clair East to the north, O’Connor to the west, and Taylor Massey Creek to the south. What is now a thriving family neighbourhood was once the site of the Woodbine Golf and Country Club. You can still see signs of the once picturesque course in the curves and slight slopes of the area’s streets.
When the Woodbine Bridge was built in 1932, it opened up the area which had been cut off from the city by the Taylor Creek Ravine. The bridge, located at Woodbine and O’Connor, is one of the largest bridges in Toronto, measuring just over 800 feet long. As the connection created a perfect transport to and from the area, it wasn’t long before the attractive land became a target for developers.
The first home in Woodbine Gardens was built by Toronto born Hollywood silent film star Mary Pickford in 1943. Her bungalow was located at 90 Glenwood Crescent and was not actually built as her home. Instead Miss Pickford donated the home as a raffle prize to raise money for the Canadian war effort. Tickets sold for $1.00 each.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that housing development finally took over the little East York neighbourhood. Unfortunately much of the lovely natural features of the area were destroyed during construction including a series of waterways and charming rolling hills. It was considered a major engineering project to address the water courses that had to be rerouted. It took 500,000 cubic yards of soil to flatten out the natural hills of the landscape. Once development was complete, houses in the area sold for $14,000 to $19,000.
Despite development, the Taylor Creek ravine remains a major attraction for the area with its shady trees, bike trails and parkland. Also known as Massey Creek it’s one of many tributaries leading to the Don River. Today Woodbine Gardens offers a hidden micro neighbourhood with a surprising amount of charming homes ideal for young families.
Woodbine Gardens provides access to several bus routes along O’Connor, St. Clair East, and Dawes allowing locals to reach several subway stations along the Bloor-Danforth line in about 20 minutes. It’s also just minutes from the Don Valley Parkway. This isn’t your average Toronto neighbourhood with a main street for shopping, dining and services. Sitting in what we could consider the outskirts of the “burbs”, residents have their choice of small strips of shops with just enough needed services such as grocery stores, retailers, and restaurants nearby to keep it reasonably convenient. Two of the area’s hubs are located on the north side of the Woodbine Bridge along St. Clair Avenue East and O’Connor. Both areas have a tiny “village” of retailers and restaurants with a surprising number of patios ideal for summer drinks. If residents care to cross the bridge they can also find a tiny stretch of commercial spots at Woodbine and Mortimer, as well as the charming Olde East York Village at O’Connor and Coxwell. As mentioned, this is an area that never quite completed its gentrification especially when it comes to amenities. While you’re close to Eglinton Square for shopping, you won’t find the charming cafés, bistros, and trendy bars offered by neighbourhoods closer to the city. This is probably why it’s more popular with families than young couples and singles.
Taylor Creek Park is the feather in the cap of Woodbine Gardens with its lovely woodlands, wetlands, and calming creek. Locals take full advantage of the 10 kilometers of walking and biking trails that lead from Warden Avenue in the east to Edwards Gardens in the west. There are several access points for the park throughout the area. There’s also family friendly George Webster Park on Chapman Avenue where families gather at the baseball diamonds, sports fields, and children's playground. In the winter there’s an outdoor rink and if families want to go tobogganing, Donora Park, just east of Dawes Road has perfect sized family friendly hills.
Families are the largest group found in Woodbine Gardens with 69% of the households having kids. The majority of residents are English speaking, and most have slightly below average incomes. There also tends to be more renters than homeowners, with a 59/41% split. Although there’s some growing interest in the area from young professionals looking for fixer upper opportunities, as the area stands today, this represents an exceedingly small percentage of about 4%.
The Best Part
This is a very lowkey area where charming homes with generous properties abound and the parkland is plenty. There are no pretentions, just a simple, quiet existence for the families that call this area home.
The Worst Part
Most of the commercial areas are much the worse for wear around here, so it’s a little depressing if you’ve got your heart set on sipping coffee or cocktails in a hip local hot spot.
The Real Estate
Although development of the area was brutal to the local landscape you can still see signs of its former hills and dales with winding crescents that give the neighbourhood its charm. With some prime homes situated with views of Taylor Creek Park, you’ll also find charming bungalows as well as some larger homes and properties along O’Connor Drive. Most homes were built prior to the1980s, but you will definitely see signs of new life. Both developers and homeowners alike are choosing to tear down some of the tiny bungalows to use the primo land to create custom homes. There are also some bungalow conversions, low rise, and high-rise apartments. Homes in the area range from the low $400s for condos and over $1million for bungalows with large lots. New build custom homes, 2 storeys and some of the lovely English cottage style detacheds can run closer to $2 million depending on size and location.
There’s just the one school in the location:
JK to Grade 8
George Webster Elementary School, 50 chapman Avenue, (416) 396-2375
Are you thinking about calling Woodbine Gardens your new home?
Contact us today, and we can get started on finding you a home in this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood