Welcome to Forest Hill (Forest Hill South, Forest Hill Village):
Toronto’s elite love this midtown enclave for is majestic Georgian and Tudor mansions, winding boulevards, manicured lawns, sculpted gardens and old, tall trees. Few of the city’s neighbourhoods rival Forest Hill for its beauty, wealth and prestige: The community is home to some of Canada’s richest business barons, hockey legends and megawatt stars. Located in the most prosperous part of the city, locals have access to gorgeous green spaces, good local shopping and some of the best private schools in the world.
Forest Hill reaches from Briar Hill Avenue in the north to St. Clair Avenue West in the south. On the east side, it runs straight up Oriole Parkway to Chaplin Crescent, continuing up Elmsthorpe Avenue, across Eglinton Avenue West, up again at Latimer Avenue and finally to Castlewood Road. All homes in Forest Hill are designed by an architect, thanks to unique bylaws that also require new home owners to plant trees in their front yards. As a result, this luxury enclave features one-of-a-kind stone and brick mansions on leafy winding streets, creating a beautiful, quiet oasis in midtown Toronto. The area was built in two phases. The first, lower phase, was constructed in the early 20th century and the second, upper phase was constructed in the mid-20th century. The older homes in the neighbourhood are mainly Tudor or Georgian styles, but many homes have been renovated or demolished and rebuilt in a variety of architectural styles, including controversial modern mansions that are higher and wider than their predecessors. The neighbourhood also boasts a good selection of upmarket condominiums, for residents who prefer a low-maintenance lifestyle. People of all ages live here, including many children and seniors; the average after-tax household income is nearly $162,000 per year.
Forest Hill is a beautiful place to live. The architecture and landscaping are Old Toronto at its finest: stately stone mansions covered in ivy, new modern homes with exquisite gardens, the quaint Grace Church-on-the-Hill and storybook schools like Bishop Strachan, a grand example of Collegiate Gothic architecture set on the community’s southern edge. The Cedarvale Ravine begins in Forest Hill and runs up into the neighbouring community of Humewood-Cedarvale, while Toronto’s nine-kilometre Beltline Trail carries locals down through the peaceful Mount Pleasant Cemetery, through Chorley Park and back up through David A. Balfour Park and the Rosehill Reservoir – some of the most stunning urban trails in the city. The Forest Hill Village shopping district is built around the intersection of Spadina Road and Lonsdale Road. There are about 60 shops here, ranging from the always-busy Aroma Espresso Bar to the old-school Forest Hill Barber Shop and a neighbourhood grocery store, The Kitchen Table. Locals exercise at Track Fitness, grab a pizza at Banfi or a taste of the Mediterranean at Mashu Mashu. With an active Business Improvement Area association, the community is looking to further beautify the village to attract more upscale retailers who can better serve affluent locals.
A little bit of history:
The history of Forest Hill stretches back to 1860, when John Wickson built a summer home for himself here. The home was set on the corner of Eglinton Avenue and Old Forest Hill Road, a forested area that was higher than the surrounding neighbourhoods – hence, Forest Hill. By the late 1880s, real estate was booming and the Toronto Belt Line Railway was built through the neighbourhood in an attempt to connect new suburbs to Union Station and the city centre. The rail line failed and has since been transformed into a lovely walking and running trail. Development continued, however, and by the early 1920s, a community and school district called Spadina Heights had been established in the area. Locals were frustrated by poor services from the City of York, however, and in 1923 they seceded from the city and called the new village Forest Hill. The homes south of Eglinton were largely developed in the 1920s and early 1930s, while the areas to the north were developed in the 1940s and 1950s. The community was annexed by the city in 1967.
There is just one public school in the neighbourhood, the highly ranked Forest Hill Junior and Senior Public School, which received 8.2/10 in the Fraser Institute’s 2016 review of Canadian schools (down from 9.8/10 in 2014). The community is also home to two renowned private schools: Bishop Strachan School (all girls) and Upper Canada College (all boys). Both schools cost more than $30,000 per year in tuition and have graduated some of Canada’s most celebrated and controversial public figures. Emily Murphy, one of Canada’s Famous Five suffragettes and the British Empire’s first female judge, graduated from Bishop Strachan, as did the country’s first woman computer scientist, Beatrice Helen Worsley. UCC has graduated four Ontario Premiers, four Toronto Mayors and seven chief justices, to name just a few.
What you'll fall in love with:
For all its wealth and majesty, Forest Hill feels like a small town. Neighbours bump into each other while running errands or grabbing coffee in the Forest Hill Village, a collection of shops at the centre of the community. The schools may be prestigious and expensive, but they’re close to home, and children form lasting friendships with other kids in the neighbourhood. Add in a few lovely parks and proximity to Toronto’s urban core, and the neighbourhood is just about perfect.
Forest Hill (Forest Hill South, Forest Hill Village) on a map
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