5 Reasons Why I Think Parkdale Is The Best Neighbourhood In Toronto & You Can't Change My Mind
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
I think Parkdale is underrated. Sure, it doesn't have the glamour of downtown or an overarching theme like Danforth, but I think its lack of bells and whistles is part of what makes it special.
It's a place made remarkable by and for those who actually live there, which I would argue is a pretty rare thing in Toronto nowadays.
All this coming from a guy who fought tooth and nail to escape the West End the whole time he was there because he thought he was above it.
It wasn't until I left Parkdale that I started to reflect on all the things that made it special, and for me, it distilled down to these five factors.
There's so much culture
You can spend years living in Toronto and not hear a peep about Little Tibet. The neighbourhood, which spans six blocks of Queen Street West, lives in the shadow of spots like Chinatown, Greektown, and Little Italy, but its history is just as important.
Tibet was believed to be a de facto independent state in East Asia, known for possessing its own unique culture, language, and religion.
However, in 1950, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) invaded Tibet, claiming it as part of the People's Republic of China. The invasion led to a military conflict and decades of repression.
The invasion forced many Tibetans to flee their homes and immigrate to Canada, specifically Toronto. The 2006 census even revealed that over 75% of the Canadian Tibetan community lived in the city.
The Tibetan way of life is prominent in Parkdale these days — you can often see Buddhist monks strolling through the area, going through the same practices they would in their homeland.
You can't help but feel immersed in the unique culture Tibetans have brought to the neighbourhood. It really puts things into perspective.
You're so close to Lake Ontario
I don't know about you, but lakeshores calm me. Something about standing in front of a large body of water just seems to wash away all of my BS.
When I lived in Parkdale, I was literally a 5-minute walk from being at the water's edge, a perk of the neighbourhood I feel often gets overlooked.
Not only do you have easy access to Lake Ontario, but you're also in an area that doesn't get nearly as much foot traffic as Queen's Quay.
You get all the tranquillity and none of the crowds — it's an introvert's dream.
The bars are the best
Everyone thinks their neighbourhood has the best bars. But I don't even live in Parkdale anymore, and I still miss the Rhino bar. Those cozy aesthetics, dude. So good.
I can't think of an area in Toronto that offers a better stretch of quality establishments.
On a single street, you have the Shameful Tiki Room, a vibrant haunt with a tropical atmosphere; the Rhino, a spot revered for its sprawling beer collection; and the Motel Bar, a gorgeous speakeasy for those seeking quality conversation.
Not to mention Gladstone House up the street, which hosts the best karaoke night in the city.
I'm not saying Parkdale is the only cool spot to drink. Far from it. I just think when you factor in its location, population and aesthetics, you get a clear winner.
You can easily catch a streetcar to downtown
As fun as Parkdale is, travelling to downtown Toronto is inevitable at some point for most of us who live and work here.
What I always loved about living in the neighbourhood was that, if I timed it right, I could hop on a streetcar the second I stepped out of my apartment and be downtown in 15 minutes — it was peak accessibility.
The ride itself wasn't half bad either, thanks to the views.
The streetcar I used to ride to work would take me past Stanley Park, the entertainment district, through the heart of Yonge Street until I arrived at St. James Park.
It was a long trek but undeniably scenic, especially during the summertime.
I've often contemplated returning to my old hood just so I can hop on my old route, look out the window and daydream like a 20-year-old again.
Is there a more important factor than affordability when picking a neighbourhood to rent in these days? I think not.
Parkdale remains one of the only options for people looking to live within the confines of the city and pay less — unless you count Etobicoke, which you shouldn't.
I wish I could tell you the neighbourhood is "shockingly affordable," but I can't. Like everyone else in Toronto, it's pricey and has definitely been affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
However, it is a lot cheaper than most areas in the city, and that's not nothing.
Zumper listed Parkdale's average one-bedroom rent at $2,109 in April 2023, which looks like a steal compared to the $2,792 the residents of North Toronto are paying.
Hopefully, this list has converted you to my side. The Parkdale side. The right side. But, if not, I encourage you to spend a day there and try not to catch feelings. It'll be harder than you think.