Living in Parkwoods
Parkwoods’ boundaries are formed by the Don Valley Parkway to the west, Victoria Park Avenue to the east, Highway 401 to the north, and Lawrence Avenue and the Canadian Pacific railway tracks to the south. With all these thoroughfares skirting the neighbourhood, one could easily get the impression that Parkwoods is a loud and busy place when in fact the opposite is true. Parkwoods has a natural beauty that is derived from its location on the eastern edge of the Don River Valley. Gently rolling hills and well treed streets are common in this quiet middle-income neighbourhood.
History of Parkwoods
The Parkwoods name was given to this neighbourhood by city planners who were making obvious reference to Parkwoods Village Drive – one of the main thoroughfares in this neighbourhood. Parkwoods United Church and Parkwoods Village Shopping Centre also share this name. Parkwoods Village Drive also has an historical significance. In approximately 1833, a teenager named John Coulson, emigrated to Canada from England and built a log house on what is now the north-west corner of Parkwoods Village Drive and Victoria Park. Incredibly, the Coulson log cabin remained standing until 1956, when this neighbourhood began to be developed.
One of Coulson’s long-time neighbours to the south was Charles D. Maginn, a Welshman who arrived in this area around 1832. Maginn was a general merchant in the community and is described by Patricia Hart, in Pioneering in North York as having “had a reputation for being very adept at spearing salmon in the Deer Lick, a small stream running near his farm.” The Maginn’s often lent out their grove to the Wesleyan Methodist Church for field meetings. In 1841 this church established a cemetery at the south-west corner of Lawrence Avenue East and Victoria Park Avenue. Many of Parkwoods first settlers are buried in this cemetery which has been declared a heritage property by the city.
Homes in Parkwoods
Parkwoods’ modest two-storey houses, split-level homes and ranch-style bungalows were built in the 1960’s. The architecture is varied and incorporates elements of Tudor and Georgian Revival as well as contemporary-style housing. Parkwoods also contains a large number of semi-detached starter homes north of York Mills Road as well as a large concentration of rental and condominium townhouses south of York Mills Road. A new luxury condominium is situated on Brookbanks Drive.
Lifestyle in Parkwoods
Parkwoods residents have many shopping options. These include Victoria Terrace situated at Lawrence and Victoria Park Avenues. This shopping plaza features a huge toy shop, a food market, a bank, postal services, restaurants, and professional and medical offices. Donwood Plaza at Underhill Drive and Lawrence Avenue is a small local plaza with a food market, professional offices, and restaurants. Victoria Park also contains some small local shopping plazas with an assortment of retailers and restaurants. Parkway Mall located at Victoria Park and Ellesmere is anchored by a supermarket and a department store. This large indoor shopping mall features ladies and mens wear, specialty apparel, sporting goods, hobbies and toys, footwear, jewellery and gifts, home furnishings, stationary and books, restaurants, and professional and medical offices.
Recreation in Parkwoods
Parkwoods contains an abundance of recreational opportunities. For the fitness enthusiast there is pleasure skating available at the Fenside Arena, year-round tennis at Cassandra Park, and an outdoor pool at the Broadlands community centre. There are also a myriad of local parks with a wide range of facilities including baseball diamonds, indoor and outdoor pools, basketball, tennis courts and children’s playgrounds. Brookbanks Park, which winds its way through the centre of this neighbourhood, is a lush ravine valley with a thick cover of trees and a wood chip nature trail that is well used by neighbourhood residents. This park is accessible year-round and also features a paved path that is ideal for walking, jogging, roller-blading and cycling. During the winter residents cross-country ski and snowshoe in this winter wonderland. The Victoria Terrace shopping centre at Lawrence and Victoria Park Avenues is anchored by six Famous Players movie theatres that screen all of the newest Hollywood pictures. The Brookbanks Public Library at 210 Brookbanks Drive includes an auditorium that is available for both children and adult programs
Transportation in Parkwoods
Local bus service along Parkwoods Village Drive, York Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue provide connecting routes to stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. The Victoria Park Avenue bus links up to the Victoria Park station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Motorists enjoy convenient access to the downtown core and Toronto’s network of commuter highways via the Don Valley Parkway, which has north and south on-ramps off Lawrence Avenue and York Mills Road. The Highway 401 on-ramp is situated off Victoria Park Avenue.