Toronto is famously referred to as one of the most diverse cities in the world for having a significantly multicultural population. But multiculturalism isn’t the only aspect that makes Toronto diverse - it also has a particularly heterogenous neighbourhood landscape. In fact, it has been coined “the city of neighbourhoods” because it has so many characteristic subdistricts.
Each neighbourhood in Toronto has its own unique history. A few of them have rather peculiar names that are intriguing and raise curiosity. Here are 12 Toronto neighbourhoods and the history behind their names:
The Annex is home to some of Toronto’s older Victorian and Edwardian houses. It is so named because in 1886 the area was annexed from Toronto. Credits to the coinage of the subdistrict’s name goes to Simeon Janes, an urban developer who took on the area after its annexation. The Annex became a part of Toronto afterwards in 1888.
Cabbagetown is “the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in all of North America”, according to the Cabbagetown Preservation Association. Its name is said to have come from the fact that its Irish settlers were notorious for planting cabbages in their front lawns.
Corktown has several abandoned industrial buildings where Hollywood movies are often shot. Two theories exist regarding the origins of its name. One theory is that Corktown is named after County Cork, the place where its Irish immigrants originally came from. The other theory suggests that its name is a reference to the many cork-stopper factories that were once active in the area.
Photo cred - laeti1986
Kensington Market was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 2006. In the 1870’s the area was established as a middle-class Anglo-Saxon district, and many of its streets (including Kensington Avenue) was named after common British names. The name “Kensington” is therefore believed to have been inspired by the British name that also inspired the name for Kensington Avenue.
Yorkville is known as one of Toronto’s most upscale shopping areas. It was founded in 1830 by Joseph Bloore and William Botsford Jarvis, who were likely responsible for coining the district’s name. Yorkville began as a hub for bohemian culture in the 60’s and only progressed as a luxury shopping centre after the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway.
Leslieville is an east-end middle-class community by the Don River. It was named after George Leslie in the 1850s, who managed Toronto nurseries in the area with his sons.
Forest Hill is where our very own 6 God started from the “bottom”. It was named after Spadina Heights, which was the summer home of a man named John Wickson. “Spadina” is derived from the Ojibwa word ishapadenah, which translates to “hill”.
The Junction was a predominantly rural area until the late 19th century. Its name comes from the fact that the land is located near the junction of the four railway tracks that constitute the West Toronto Diamond. The establishment of these railroad tracks led to the development of industries in the area, which benefited from easy access to transportation routes.
Photo cred - monnnnns
Roncesvalles has a very prominent Polish community. The name "Roncesvalles” was derived from the street Roncesvalles Avenue, which cuts through the district’s centre. Roncesvalles Avenue itself was named by Colonel O’Hara (a British army man) who named the street after the Battle of Roncesvalles, which occurred in the Roncesvalles gorge in Spain in 1813.
Trinity Bellwoods is named after it’s own Trinity Bellwoods Park. The park was the original location for Trinity College (one of University of Toronto’s main colleges), which was itself named after the Holy Trinity in the Anglican faith.
Liberty Village is one of Toronto’s oldest settlements. Its name comes from the fact that it was once the home to well-known prisons (such as Toronto Central Prison). In 1915, Provincial Secretary William Hanna ordered for the closure of Toronto Central Prison. Liberty Street was the street in which prisoners took their first walk upon being freed.
Parkdale has gone through many significant changes since the development of the Gardiner in 1955. One of those changes included the acquisition of High Park, of which the district is named after.
What historical facts about Toronto neighbourhoods can you add to these descriptions? Leave a comment below!