When Torontonians think about the west end, a beanie-clad, bicycle-riding hipster playing records and drinking artisanal coffee often comes to mind. While this image isn’t necessarily representative of every single west end resident, many businesses in the area certainly cater to this prominent group. As a result, the west end is where the latest, coolest boutiques, cafés, and restaurants are always setting up shop.
Trinity Bellwoods Park feels less like a park, and more like a community hub for west end residents. People living as far as the Bloor West Village & Runnymede or Corso Italia & Davenport make the short pilgrimage over to the park on the weekends for activities like tennis, baseball, slacklining, frisbee, roller skating, and of course picnicking. A community centre can also be found within Trinity Bellwoods Park, which hosts fitness classes and is home to a sizeable indoor pool.
A little known fact about this beloved green space is that the park was formerly home to Trinity College, which only moved onto the University of Toronto campus in 1925, after the City of Toronto purchased the plot of land on which it sat. The grand building was unfortunately demolished, and today the gate separating the park from Queen Street West is the only remnant of Trinity College’s presence in the west end.
Dufferin Grove Park is also a great change of pace from Trinity Bellwoods. The tight-knit community who lives nearby organizes events like pizza nights and fireside storytelling sessions, at which all are welcome. However, both of these parks are nothing compared to High Park. In fact, Trinity Bellwoods would fit inside High Park more than 100 times. It’s easy to spend an entire day getting lost in this 400-acre green space, which is home to a zoo, an outdoor theatre, hiking trails, and much more.
While generally a destination for vintage shopping and farmers markets, Toronto’s west end is also home to a number of distinctive neighbourhoods, each with their own history and flavour. Liberty Village, once home to a number of prisons, is now filled with condos and lofts, creative industries, and of course plenty of bars and restaurants. The Junction, which only lifted its prohibition ban in 2000, now has a booming music and nightlife scene, as well as a large concentration of reclaimed furniture shops.
Then there’s West Queen West, named one of coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Vogue magazine a few years back. More recently Dufferin Grove was recently given a similar honour by Time Out. Regardless of whichever particular neighbourhood is currently trending, there’s no denying that the west end is happening.
With nearly 200 west end condos, prospective buyers have plenty of choice when it comes to choosing a home. These range from hard lofts set in historical buildings to contemporary condos with every amenity a millennial could ask for.
Those who love the idea of living in an antique condo building can check out the Robert Watson Lofts, the Feather Factory Lofts, the Noble Court Lofts, or the Bartlett Loft Towns. There’s also an unusually large number of church conversions in the West End, including The Abbey Lofts, the Sanctuary Lofts, The Church Lofts, and the West 40.
Naturally, there are also contemporary west end condos popping up all the time. One notable recent build is the 8G, whose residents can enjoy using its movie theatre, pet grooming facilities, and the Metro right downstairs. The King West Condos at Liberty Village, which boasts 1,200 suites, offers residents access to a 30-seat cinema, two bowling alleys, and a rooftop terrace on the 25th floor.
West end residents who prefer to avoid the traffic associated with driving are in luck, as they can use line 2 of the subway to get around, as well as streetcars and buses on major roads like Bathurst, Dundas, College, Queen, and King.
Drivers, on the other hand, make great use of the nearby Gardiner Expressway, which runs east and west along the southern edge of the city. And running parallel to this highway is the Martin Goodman Trail, a 56-kilometre trail reserved for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Locals: Hipsters, and those who deny that they’re hipsters.
Code of Conduct: Cycling and swooning over craft beer is highly popular, yet completely optional.
What You’ll Find: Organic produce, vintage garb, and trendy cocktail bars.
What You Won’t Find: A decreasing cost of living.
The Homes: West end condos range from historical lofts to amenity-filled towers, with semi-detached single-family homes on surrounding side streets.
Sealing the Deal: Getting to choose between spending a Sunday High Park or Trinity Bellwoods.