Living in Downsview
Downsview is one of Toronto’s largest neighbourhoods. It has a large Italian community centred around Keele Street as well as a large Jewish community centred around Bathurst Street and Wilson Avenue. Downsview has a number of neighbourhood landmarks including Yorkdale Shopping Centre and the Allen Expressway. Now there is a new neighbourhood landmark:Downsview Park which is siituated on the former Canadian Forces Base land, is Canada’s only national urban park. Downsview Park hosts year-round events and programs for all ages and is also a business/industrial centre, home to Drive Test for driving tests and licenses. Humber River Hospital’s new state-of-the-art acute care facility will be constructed on a block of approximately 30 acres at Keele Street and Highway 401.The greening to take place along Wilson Ave. and the economic impact locally will be a big boost to this community.When completed, the new hospital will be approximately 1.8 million square feet.
History of Downsview
Downsview derives it’s name from John Perkins Bull, a Justice of the Peace who settled in this area around 1842. Bull named his farm “Downs View” as his property was situated on one of the highest elevations in Toronto. In what must surely have been one of the first home offices, the Bull farmhouse included a courtroom addition and a jail which was located in the basement of the house. The John Perkins Bull house is still standing today at 450 Rustic Road where it is presently in use as a nursing home. For over a hundred years Downsview was a thriving agricultural community with it’s own general store, schoolhouse, and post office. The pillar of this community was the red brick Downsview United Church. Built in 1870, this church is still standing in it’s original location at 2822 Keele Street. Downsview began a new chapter in it’s history in 1928 when the world famous De Havilland Aircraft Company chose Downsview as it’s home. The Canadian Armed Forces followed De Havilland to Downsview setting up an important military base in Downsview during World War Two. Once the war was over Downsview experienced a building boom which saw the entire neighbourhood developed by the early 1970’s.
Homes in Downsview
Downsview’s original housing stock dates from the 1950’s and 1960’s. These detached, semi-detached and split level houses are situated on suburban size lots with private driveways. Balmoral a subdivision of newer custom designed brick and stone houses is located in the north-east pocket of Downsview, off Wilson Heights Boulevard. Downsview contains a number of residential streets that back on to greenbelts and parkland. Many of these houses are custom-built to take advantage of their lush surroundings.
Lifestyle in Downsview
Downsview contains some of the best shopping in the Toronto area. Yorkdale Shopping Centre is conveniently located at Dufferin/The Allen Expressway and the 401 highway. This large indoor shopping mall attracts shoppers from all over Toronto to it’s high profile retail stores – amongst them the new J.Crew, Zara, Banana Republic, Holt Renfrew, Guess, the newly renovated Bay department store, H&M, The Gap, Williams Sanoma, The Pottery Barn and Indigo, just to name a few. Yorkdale is also a destination spot for its movie theatres, a public library, professional offices, and a fitness facility.
North York Sheridan Mall at Jane Street and Wilson Avenue is a local indoor mall with a nice mix of big department stores and independent retailers. Further east the Downsview Plaza at Keele Street and Wilson Avenue features a large Italian supermarket, and professional and medical offices. The Lawrence Square shopping centre located at Lawrence Avenue West and the Allen Expressway includes big department stores, small retailers and professional and medical offices. At Downsview’s eastern boundary you find the Sheppard Plaza catering to the neighbourhood’s basic needs, including banking, groceries, health food, dollar store, pet shop, Starbucks and the Dairy Queen. The Wilson Avenue and Bathurst Street shopping district includes Jewish gift shops, neighbourhood fruit and flower markets, bakeries and restaurants, nail salons, and local conveniences.
Recreation in Downsview
Downsview Park encompasses 572 acres making it Toronto’s largest recreational destination. The focal point is the Downsview Hangar – a former WW2 structure that was used to store aircraft – that has been converted into a 45,000 square metre multi-purpose recreational facility that includes indoor multi-purpose sports fields, beach volleyball courts, basketball courts and a ball hockey arena. Downsview Dells Park located at the north-end of this neighbourhood is part of a scenic 4.7 km. paved trail that follows the Black Creek Valley north to Black Creek Pioneer Village, a restored pre-Confederation village at Steeles Avenue West. Downsview also contains a number of smaller recreational parks whose facilities range from tennis courts and baseball diamonds to children’s playgrounds. The Downsview Arena at 1630 Wilson Avenue offers public skating and hockey league programs to the local community. To the south of the arena is the Downsview Lawn Bowling Green. The Downsview Public Library at 2793 Keele Street offers a myriad of programs for adults, children and preschoolers. Yorkdale Mall and North York Sheridan Mall both have movie theatres.
Transportation in Downsview
Toronto Transit bus lines along Wilson, Lawrence and Sheppard Avenues connect to stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. Bus routes on Jane, Keele and Dufferin Streets connect to stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Motorists can get downtown in twenty-five to thirty minutes via Bathurst Street. Highway 401 is a short drive from any spot in this neighbourhood with on-ramps at Keele and Dufferin Streets and the Allen Expressway.