History: Yorkville was subdivided in the 1830s, by a prominent brewer named Joseph Bloor and Sheriff William Botsford Jarvis, who also founded the Rosedale neighbourhood.
Yorkville was named after the Town of York, the forerunner to the City of Toronto. Yorkville was incorporated as a Village in 1853. The initials and trades of Yorkville’s first council members are displayed on the Village coat of arms which is proudly displayed above the front door of the historic Yorkville Fire Hall, located at 34 Yorkville Avenue.
In 1883, Yorkville had the distinction of being the first village annexed by the City of Toronto. Despite being part of a big city, Yorkville has always maintained its own identity. It had gained notoriety first as a hippie haven in the 1960s, and then became known as a shopping mecca in the 1980s and 1990s.
Yorkville now has international appeal, with world-class hotels and the most expensive condominium apartment buildings per square footage in Toronto.
Overview: Yorkville is one of Toronto’s most dynamic neighbourhoods. It is an eclectic mix of luxury condominium apartment buildings, commercial office towers, four star hotels, theatres, gourmet restaurants, a prestigious shopping district and picture-postcard Victorian homes.
The commercial heart of Yorkville is located on both Yorkville Avenue and on Cumberland Street. The transition to Yorkville’s quiet residential pocket is gradual, as Victorian houses shift from retail to residential uses in a seamless pattern that is uniquely Yorkville.
Homes: Yorkville’s gentrified Victorian houses were built mainly between 1870 and 1895. These historical homes exhibit many decorative features including ornamental brick patterns, gingerbread gables, cast iron fences, and richly landscaped gardens. Many of Yorkville’s houses are listed on the Toronto Historical Board’s Inventory of Heritage Properties.
The Yorkville landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years with the addition of a number of new luxury condominium apartment buildings. Yorkville condominiums have the highest square footage values in the City of Toronto. These high-end buildings cater to the foot-loose and fancy-free lifestyles of the residents of this upscale neighbourhood.
Shopping: Bloor-Yorkville is generally acclaimed as Canada’s pre-eminent shopping district. Its many specialty stores, fashion boutiques, jewellery stores, antique shops and art galleries are a destination point for tourists, as well as Torontonians from all over the city.
Yorkville’s shops and restaurants are located in pretty Victorian houses on Yorkville Avenue, Hazelton Avenue, Cumberland Street and Scollard Street.
The Hazelton Lanes shopping centre at 55 Avenue Road features over 100 exclusive shops and restaurants. It is anchored by Whole Foods, which offers a vast culinary array of take-out foods as well as nutritional items, organic foods and traditional grocery items. Pusateri’s, on Bay Street at Yorkville Avenue, is famous for its prepared foods, meat and fish counter, and a tantalizing array of desserts and chocolates.
Recreation: Ramsden Park is located at the north end of Yorkville, off Yonge Street. This large city park includes four tennis courts, an artificial ice rink a children’s playground and a wading pool.
The Yorkville Public Library, at 22 Yorkville Avenue, is an intimate library geared towards the local community. It includes programs for both children and adults. The Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge Street is Canada’s largest and most extensive reference library. The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the recently renovated Royal Ontario Museum are all within walking distance of this neighbourhood. The Manulife Centre situated at the southeast corner of Bay and Bloor features 12 new state-of-the-art movie theatres.
(P) Jesse Ketchum Jr. & Sr.
61 Davenport Rd.
(P) Jarvis Collegiate Institute
495 Jarvis St.
(PR) University of Toronto Schools
371 Bloor St. W.
Transportation: Yorkville is ideally located within walking distance of the Bloor/Yonge subway station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line and the Bay station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. For those commuting by car, the Don Valley Parkway is approximately five minutes from Yorkville.
Bibliography: Dunkelman, David, Your Guide to Toronto Neighbourhoods, Copyright © 1997 by David Dunkelman