Toronto has a number of family-oriented enclaves that have the attributes of small towns nestled in a larger urban area. We use the Leaside community in East York as a case example of why people are choosing to live within these enclaves within the city, rather than the suburbs. We focus in on one particular well-liked Leaside street, Rykert Crescent, looking in more detail at a smaller grouping of houses to determine how the approximately 7 decade old houses along the street appear to have been adapted, renovated or replaced to meet the current needs of their families. Regardless, Leaside offers excellent public schools, local sport teams, an interlinked ravine system park and easy access to major transportation systems. A gem within the city in which opportunities to purchase a home are highly valued but rare. In addition, other family-oriented Toronto neighborhoods are highlighted.
Toronto is Canada’s largest urban area, with a 5-million-plus population, skyscrapers galore and new condos popping up all over the place.
But it also happens to be very family-friendly. Major crime rates are comparatively low and it’s filled with fantastic schools, museums, parks, and restaurants, making it a top destination for not just young professionals and singles, as well as much more than just being the country’s financial capital.
Here’s where families should consider when moving to this spectacular city.
Typically, families moving to large cities look first towards areas away from a bustling downtown and outside of the city limits.
Toronto is an exception. While there are well-regarded suburban areas that are particularly popular with families, those with children shouldn’t disregard the downtown area entirely.
Case in point: Riverdale. This large neighborhood just east of midtown Toronto is known for its namesake, Riverdale Park, a huge green space where one can always find families picnicking or playing sports.
Despite it being so close to downtown, Riverdale’s streets are pretty quiet and lined with older homes and rentals that are in line with the average real estate costs for the city (which is just about 15 minutes away), but there are still plenty of dining and shopping options. It is an easy walk to the Danforth for a nice summer’s meal on the outdoor patios.
But Riverdale’s biggest selling point for families is its highly regarded school district, boasting numerous renowned elementary and high schools, both public and private. Another option close to Riverdale is Leslieville. Its wonderful school system may first grab the attention of families, but its eclectic mix of vintage stores and restaurants popular with foodies keeps them here for the long haul.
Leaside, focusing on 106 to 111 Rykert Crescent, East York, ON
For years, up-and-coming Leaside on the east side of Toronto has been among Toronto’s most popular family-friendly neighborhoods, especially for upper-middle-class families looking to get the most bang for their real estate investment buck right in the heart of the city. Like Riverdale, the school selection is excellent, greenspace is prevalent and public transit is accessible in Leaside.
Leaside’s greatest appeal may lie in its abundance of detached single-family homes that usually come with large lots and yard sizes. It also is known for excellent public school and its well run kids hockey, baseball and soccer leagues. Already having easy access to the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 401, the local public transportation system is poised for a huge improvement with the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit. It will provide a rapid rail east-west transit system from Kennedy Subway Station in the east to Mount Dennis in the west of Toronto, with linkages into the TTC at Eglinton, Lawrence West and Kennedy Subway Stations. Most Leasiders head off to Bayview dining, but in recent years excellent restaurants have popped up along or near Laird Avenue. It is thought that additional new dining opportunities will spring up once the Eglinton Crosstown becomes operational.
Rykert Crescent in north Leaside is a prime example of why people love living in Leaside and why turnover on the street is low, with rare opportunities to purchase a home on the street. Rykert Crescent has a pretty pedestrian access trail directly off of the street down into the tranquil Serena Gundy Park, which links into the massive Sunnybrook ravine park system. The park has hiking and biking trails, picnic facilities, soccer fields and a large dog park.
Houses on the north side of Rykert Crescent, East York, ON back onto the ravine and owners report the occasional sighting of deers in their backyards. Fox and recently coyotes openly walk down Rykert Crescent while raccoons and rabbits are common as well as a variety of birds. Even more amazing is the number of basketball nets and hockey nets along Rykert Crescent, with kids outside having a good time. A rare sighting in the city!
Driving along Rykert Crescent, it is clear that many of the houses have been renovated or replaced in their entirety over the last few decades to accommodate the current needs of families. This includes current active home construction sites along the street.
Focusing on a small grouping of stately houses at approximately mid-length along the street, we see how the 70-year old houses have been adapted, including changes in style trends over time. On the ravine side, 106, 108 and 110 Rykert Crescent have all been renovated or replaced, but manage to blend well into the Leaside style, generally through the use of darker colours and well placed red brick or stone. All include extensions over the garages and likely out the back. Further along, 112 Rykert Crescent appears to be a more recent development, as a modern stone design with floor length windows. On the other side of the street, 107 to 111 Rykert, East York, ON all appear to have been renovated, with exterior mainly of red brick. 111 Rykert actually appears to have undergone two renovations, with the earlier one being an extension over the garage and the later one being an extension out the back which is visible from the street. Like many of the homeowners along the street that appear to have done earlier renovations, say in the last two decades, 111 Rykert Crescent has been renovated to blend the old style with the new design. In fact, the homeowner of 111 Rykert Crescent happened to be outside when we were doing a tour of the neighbourhood and she confirmed that the house had been renovated twice, with the first renovation done by the original owners of 111 Rykert Crescent. Further, she added that they were only the second homeowners of 111 Rykert Crescent. Now, however it can be assumed today that many of the newer homeowners are finding it now more cost effective to simply replace the homes in their entirety rather than try to blend the old with the new.
Leaside is also home to nearly two dozen public, private, and Catholic schools, including the top-ranked Leaside High as well as the nearby North Toronto Collegiate secondary school.
If money isn’t an object, luxurious Humber-Heights-Westmount combines city living with a very low crime rate. With there are plenty of waterfront mansions and high-end condos, there are also low-density modest single-family homes to choose from.
About 45% of Humber Heights residents are families with children and it’s a particularly diverse area. Neighborhood residents represent 125 different ethnic backgrounds and half are first-generation immigrants to Canada.
While its name is fancy, Rockcliffe-Smythe is one of the more affordable family-friendly Toronto neighborhoods, known for its tree-lined streets but quiet suburban feel despite being right in the middle of the action, just like 107 to 111 Rykert Crescent, East York, ON.
Options for recreation are top-notch here, especially the Smythe Outdoor Pool and the Smythe Park Recreation and Community Center. The western edge of the neighborhood is made up entirely of green space, with trails and golf courses.
Access to the bustling Yonge and University subway lines to the city center is easy since the neighborhood is so close to St. Clair. Plus, a quick ride on the Humber River bike trail takes families right to the Toronto waterfront.
Bloor West Village
Those seeking a livelier neighborhood environment that is still wholly family-friendly should check out Bloor West, which calls itself a small village in a huge city. There are numerous excellent schools, parks, and daycare options in the village, which are lined with cute cafes, distinctive fruit stands, and delicious restaurants.
Bloor West Village is also desirable because of closeby High Park, Toronto’s largest public park with an extensive number of sports fields, trails, pet-friendly areas, and lakefront picnic spots.
Residents just call it “the Beach,” but the neighborhood is home to four Lake Ontario beaches, including Woodbine Beach that’s considered the most family-friendly. It’s a vibrant community that also attracts tourists with its yearly public events like its summer jazz festival and the Winter Stations outdoor art showcase.
Over a dozen public schools and 11 parks along the lakeshore make the Beaches a perennial family favorite.
In conclusion, finding a family-friendly neighborhood near Toronto is a crucial step in providing a safe and nurturing environment for loved ones. Leaside, with its charming streets, proximity to essential amenities, and excellent schools, stands out as an ideal choice. 106 to 111 Rykert Crescent, East York, ON, epitomizes the appeal of this community, offering a beautiful residence in the heart of a welcoming neighborhood. Remember that choosing the right neighborhood is an investment in your family’s happiness and well-being.