Living in Long Branch
Long Branch is a well established neighbourhood located along the Toronto waterfront at the extreme south-west part of the city. This neighbourhood is in transition with many new home developments being built along Lakeshore Boulevard. This lakeside village is blessed with many fine attributes including picturesque waterfront parks, a local arena, a public library, a waterfront trail, a Go Transit station and a vibrant shopping district.
History of Long Branch
Long Branch was first settled in 1797 by Colonel Samuel Smith a loyalist officer with the Queens Rangers. Smith’s five hundred acre tract of land spanned the entire present day neighbourhood. Smith, who served two terms as administrator of Upper Canada, built a modest regency style cottage at the south-east corner of 41st Street and Lakeshore Boulevard where Parkview Public School is situated today. Smith passed away in 1826. His children retained possession of his estate until 1871 when it was sold to James Eastwood. The industrious Eastwood timbered the pine and oak forest that covered this land. He then rafted the logs from the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek to the Toronto Harbour where the lumber was sold for a tidy profit. In 1883, Eastwood sold the eastern sixty-four acres of his property to the developers who created Long Branch Park, a summer resort modelled after its namesake in New Jersey. Ferry boats ushered thousands of Toronto vacationers each year to Long Branch which boasted fanciful summer cottages, a grand hotel, a boardwalk and numerous amusement rides including a Coney Island Carousel. Long Branch became more accessible in 1916 when Lake Shore Boulevard was paved. This transportation corridor helped turn Long Branch into a year-round community. This neighbourhood was developed largely from the 1920’s up to the 1950’s.
Lifestyle in Long Branch
The Long Branch BIA is very active in making their neighbourhood a better place to live, work, shop, visit and play. Their efforts are responsible for the distinctive nautical blue lamp posts that line Lake Shore Boulevard West. These cast-iron lamp posts are dressed up with seasonal banners. Decorative interlocking brickwork on the sidewalks together with planter boxes and seats make for an attractive streetscape. The street especially sparkles at Christmastime when decorative lights resembling candy canes adorn the street lamps. The children will delight in the Santa Claus parade along the Lake Shore which always occurs on the first Saturday in December. There are over 125 shops, restaurants and professional service businesses along this route. Many of these shops are owner operated. The street theme on Lake Shore Boulevard is “Toronto’s Village by the Lake”.
Recreation in Long Branch
Marie Curtis Park, located at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek, has a supervised sandy beach with picnic areas in addition to a wading pool and a children’s playground. This park is where the Toronto Waterfront Trail and the Etobicoke Creek Trail connect. This waterfront trails offer miles of fitness and leisure activities. The Waterfront trail passes through Colonel Samuel Smith Park which features a newly created wetland habitat interpretive trail, as well as spectacular views of Lake Ontario. The scenic Waterfront Trail that skirts the south end of this neighbourhood passes through Len Ford Park, an ideal spot for picnics, and Long Branch Park which hosts the Lakeshore Summer Concert Series in the park gazebo. Birch Park, located south of Lakeshore Boulevard between 28th and 29th streets, features two tennis courts and a children’s playground. Adjacent to this park is the Long Branch Centennial Arena which offers public skating as well as ice hockey and ringette programs. The James S. Bell Community School, located at 90-31st Street hosts Youth Dances, a Teen Zone, adult fitness programs and a variety of children and family events. The Long Branch Public Library is a friendly community-oriented library that offers pre-school story time programs and a “Tea and Books” program for adults and seniors.
Transportation in Long Branch
Long Branch has its own Go Transit station located at the west-end of this neighbourhood on the north side of Lakeshore Boulevard. Bus service at this station links passengers to Union Station and the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. Motorists can access downtown Toronto’s entertainment and financial districts in approximately fifteen minutes via Lakeshore Boulevard. Commuters also enjoy quick access to the Queen Elizabeth Way and Highway 427 on-ramps at Browns Line north of Lake Shore Boulevard.