Welcome to Bedford Park (Yonge and Lawrence):
Toronto families flock to this charming, historic neighbourhood just north of downtown. Beautifully updated century homes on deep, manicured lots give the community a traditional feel, and the wide, tree-lined streets are perfect for bike rides and Saturday afternoon shinny games. Add in excellent local shopping, a central location with solid transit options and top-notch neighbourhood schools, and this community is a magnet for busy families looking for their forever homes.
What you’ll fall in love with:
If you have a sweet tooth, Bedford Park is the place for you. Nobody’s done the math, but we’re willing to bet the little strip of Yonge Street on the east side of the neighbourhood has the highest concentration of whimsical, independent bakeries in the city. The Rolling Pin has a weekly donut schedule. Butter Avenue has a giant tower of French macarons in the window and offers an afternoon tea where you can taste 12 kinds of dessert. You can buy Robyn’s Cookies in her renovated pink garage, but her treats are so ultra-gourmet you can also buy them at Pusateri’s Fine Foods. Bobbette & Belle is routinely featured on The Marilyn Denis Show, and some say Patisserie Sebastien has the best croissants in the city. One thing is certain: You’ll never have to bake a birthday cake again!
There are three schools in the neighbourhood: John Wanless Junior Public School, Blessed Sacrament School and Bedford Park Public School. All are excellent: John Wanless received a 7.9/10 in the Fraser Institute’s 2015-16 review of Canadian schools, while Bedford Park received an 8.3/10. This is due in part to the fact that the schools benefit from tremendous financial support from local families: The Toronto Star reports that John Wanless and Bedford Park topped up government funding to the tune of more than $250,000 each in 2012, ranking them the third and fourth among Toronto’s top fundraising schools.
Bedford Park is an L-shaped neighbourhood that runs from Brooke Avenue in the north to Lawrence Avenue down south. The western boundary is Avenue Road, and the eastern boundary runs down Yonge Street, east along Snowdon Avenue and south again down Ronan Avenue – just west of Wanless Park.
There’s no question Bedford Park is a community full of families: There are lots of children in the neighbourhood, and most of the adults who live here are over 30, with plenty of boomers and seniors as well. Most homes are single-family detached, with a fair number of duplex and row houses as well. The average after-tax household income is $130,000 and the average price of a single-family detached home is just over $1.7 million.
The trip to the downtown business district is relatively quick, as Bedford Park sits right on the TTC’s busiest subway line. Transit will get you there in 40 minutes, while driving takes about half an hour. You can bike in under an hour, along busy city streets. Yonge and Bloor is closer, just 20 minutes by car or transit, and half an hour by bike. If you’re heading elsewhere in the GTA, you’ll love that Bedford Park is close enough to the 401 to be convenient, and far enough away to avoid the drone of traffic.
When you’re working, running a household and raising kids, life is so much easier if everything you need is close by. Bedford Park offers real convenience for families. Shopping is easy, with grocery stores on every corner of the neighbourhood and the beloved Kristapsons Smoked Salmon near the corner of Yonge and Lawrence. This 60-year-old institution makes Canadian cold-smoked salmon that is certainly the best in the city, and some say the best in the world. You’ll probably also find yourself stopping in at The Friendly Butcher, another neighbourhood favourite that offers local, Ontario-raised meats. You don’t have to go any further than Yonge Street for most of your other basics, with drugstores, men’s and women’s clothes, toy stores, an indoor playground and even an independent Canadian shoe store, Getoutside Shoes. Most of the commercial area falls under the purview of the Yonge Lawrence Village Business Improvement Area association, which puts on a host of local events each year, including a summer sidewalk sale in June and an art walk in the fall. Everything you need is right here.
Comic fans young and old will love that Bedford Park is home to one of Toronto’s last independent comic book stores. For 25 years Paradise Comics has been specializing in comics from the 1950s through the 1970s, and more recently became home to one of the city’s biggest selections of graphic novels. Another popular local hobby shop is Passionknit, a yarn store for the passionate knitter. The neighbourhood also offers lots of dining options for nights when you’re just too tired to cook. Family-friendly burger joints include The Burger Cellar (hooray for burgers paired with wine!), Burger’s Priest, McCoy Burger Co. and Stack, which boasts “two-handed” burgers along with house-made donuts. For more upscale dining, consider Coppi Ristorante, a neighbourhood gem that has been in business for more than 25 years. Other area greats include Wildfire Steakhouse, Piazzetta Trattoria and Shinobu for Japanese food and the famous Belly Buster Submarines – it will probably be the best sub you’ve ever tried.The southeast corner of the neighbourhood is served by the Bedford-Wanless Ratepayers Association, which hosts an annual spring fair in nearby Wanless Park. Active locals will enjoy the Bedford Park Community Centre and the Lawrence Park Athletic Association.
A little bit of history:
The truth is, nobody knows where the name Bedford Park really came from. In 1873, an entrepreneur named Charles McBride built a two-story hotel on the corner of Yonge Street and Fairlawn Avenue. He called it Bedford Park Hotel, a name that was eventually used to define the small rural community where it stood. Most assume the name we use today was taken from McBride’s hotel, but nobody knows where he got it from.
More than a decade after McBride built his hotel, two brothers – Phillip and William Ellis – purchased the nearby, burnt-out former home of James Metcalfe, along with the 100 acres it stood on. In 1889, they formed The Bedford Park Company and proposed a subdivision containing 1,500 small lots. The proposal was approved in 1892, but it took decades to woo buyers, probably because the folks who lived here had to walk a good distance just to catch transit into the city. By the 1920s, only five percent of the lots were filled, many with small white bungalows. Much of the current housing stock dates to the 1930s and 1940s as the neighbourhood developed with improved transit options and vintage suburban sprawl.
Bedford Park (Yonge and Lawrence) on a map
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