Welcome to Bickford Park:
This chilled-out little slice of Toronto is home to many young families, including entrepreneurs, artists and academics. Bickford Park hosts a funky, diverse demographic and offers an extremely relaxed, residential vibe while being extremely central – sitting at a nexus between downtown and the überhip west end.
While Bickford Park is pretty quiet relative to the surrounding areas, there are more than enough restaurants, cafés and points of interest if you know where to go. The original Sam James Coffee Bar, for example, is a hot spot on Harbord where you can get the best espresso in the city (in our opinion) and Pinky’s Ca Phe is a trendy new Vietnamese restaurant tucked away on Clinton Street in an old converted house.
Bickford Park is nestled between Koreatown to the north, and the bustle of College Street to the south; Ossington Street hems it in to the west, with Mirvish Village and Bathurst Street to the east.
With the University of Toronto close by, you’re bound to have academics and students in the neighbourhood. Bloordale and Brockton Village to the west are home to an artist-based community with a decidedly bohemian slant, complete with lofts and converted warehouses scattered across the beautifully restored Junction railpath. Mirvish Village to the east is home to the historic incandescent lights of Palmerston Boulevard and its huge Victorian houses with luxurious porches. To the south is College Street with its infinite bars and restaurants, as well as The Royal – a historic repertoire cinema to satisfy your inner cinephile. Nearby Dufferin Grove hosts one of the biggest farmer’s markets in the city every Thursday from 3-7 for you to get your organic produce fix as well as an authentic serving of West Indian roti. You can also book out the wood-fired oven in Dufferin Grove for a small fee and host a pizza party for your friends and family.
The streets of Bickford Park are composed primarily of duplexes and semi-detached units grouped snugly together. Towards the eastern border you’ll find larger, more expensive houses along Palmerston, but for the most part Bickford features cozy A-frame houses with lots of character. As with almost any residential neighbourhood in Toronto there are a few freshly built, modern flat-roof homes that stand out from the classics.
What you’ll fall in love with:
For amateur athletes and young families, there are plenty of parks for a game of pickup soccer, along with tricked-out playgrounds for children. The open expanse of Bickford Park – the literal park – offsets the cozy, one-way streets running through the area. Definitely a great place for a picnic or a game of frisbee in the warmer months.
The Kadampa Buddhist Temple on Crawford hosts lectures and workshops for the spiritually curious, and its golden, reflective windows are a remarkable sight. Learning how to quiet your mind and meditate amid the overwhelming bustle of the city might not be such a bad idea!
Bickford Park is home to the Central Toronto Academy, a composite high school that offers a broad range of specialty programs, as well as college- and university-level courses for senior students. Nearby Harbord Collegiate Institute boasts illustrious alumni such as architect Frank Gehry and filmmaker David Cronenberg. Montrose Junior Public School (JK-6) offers a variety of after-school programs, including language courses in Portuguese and Mandarin.
Luckily, the pilot test for bike lanes on Bloor has yielded a resolution from the city to make the lanes permanent. Whether you cruise across Harbord or Bloor on your bicycle, you’ll be able to do so without competition from motorists. To bike from Bickford Park to union should take about 20 minutes. Driving should also take 20 minutes (depending on traffic), and the TTC should be able to do the job in about 40 minutes.
A little bit of history:
Originally settled by Portuguese and Italian immigrants, Bickford Park has a typical old-meets-new vibe and a culture of openness and sharing – part of the tradition that makes Toronto so great. You might just find yourself sipping homemade wine in your neighbour’s vegetable garden listening to tales of an older city you never knew.
Bickford Park on a map
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