Friday, July 22, 2016

West Toronto, from Dundas to Bloor

On my solo trip (+Vilis) to Toronto last year my cousin Kaiva gave me a tour of the up-and-coming Junction neighborhood along Dundas St. W including stops at several used bookstores and past two or three old churches that were renovated into apartment buildings. In addition to stopping in at Crema Coffee Company (and bypassing some high-allure art supply stores), we passed by Pacific Street where the weekly farmers market is located. As our visit was on a weekday, we were not able to check out the Junction Farmers Market; I was happy that our recent trip afforded us a free Saturday morning to go for a walk that would include this local treat.

One bag of cherries, two Bavarian pretzels and a cupcake later we were sitting on the steps, listening to a woman with a lovely voice singing all the favorites, one after another. Once the cupcake and pretzels had been demolished, we headed further along Dundas in search of a bookstore I thought I had seen. Although we didn’t find it, we did stumble into Pascal’s Baguette & Bagels, lured by the promise of “smoked salmon on free-ranged eggs on sundried tomato baguette w/housemade sauce and made to perfection.”

The heart of the West Toronto Junction is at the intersection of Dundas and Keele Streets, where the Post Office & Customs House and Town Hall (including the police station and fire hall) once stood. Still standing are the original Bank of British North America (1907), the Thompson Block (1889), the Bank of Toronto (1911) and the Campbell Block (1888). Headed south down Keele we left The Junction for the High Park North neighborhood, lined with residential homes and dotted with parks.

Although named for location in relation to High Park (the famous 400-acre park that stretches all the way to Lake Shore Blvd and Humber Bay), there are a few smaller parks scattered about and we made it our mission to stop in all that we passed. We check Baird Park off the list without sacrificing our clothes to the wading pool, but at Lithuania Park all bets were off (along with many articles of clothing).

I’ve always felt it a stereotype to say that Canadians can be a bit weird, but then there’s this...

We crossed down to High Park and headed west along Bloor St W where we soon made a pit stop for coffee and smoothies at Timothy’s World Coffee in Bloor West Village. This area is completely different from Dundas – the used bookstores are replaced with ones selling new books (actually, now it’s singular as the Chapters closed at some point), and stores with fruit and flower displays on the sidewalk face the street. You’ve also got some larger, chain groceries, and restaurants and boutiques fill in the rest of the space.

(actually on Dundas in The Junction, but I really liked the storefront!)

Once we turned north on Runnymeade we were back in a residential neighborhood, hitting a few shops at the intersection with Annette but otherwise a much quieter stroll. All together this walking tour of these three/four neighborhoods took the whole morning, especially as we made frequent stops to shop and play. But at under 4 miles it was a do-able exploration of a portion of the west end of Toronto, giving an opposing perspective to the tourist central adventure along the lakefront in the heart of downtown, or the summer weekend destination of Toronto Island Park. We arrived back with just enough time to shower before heading to the #Mija2016 wedding celebration…


  1. It's been far too long since I've visited Toronto -- this sounds like a great neighborhood to check out. Also,any indication as to why the park was named Lithuania Park??

    1. Actually, funny that you should ask... The park was renamed Lithuania Park in 1973, and when I looked into why it was names as such, I just ran into a bunch of petitions by local residents to go back to the original name of "Oakmount"... So it might not be Lithuania Park for long!


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