Welcome to Grange Park (Bladwin Village):
Grange Park is a slice of heaven for urban souls who love the intoxicating energy of downtown city life. Art, culture, history, shopping, endless culinary adventures and glorious green spaces are all within walking distance. From the Art Gallery of Ontario and the newly restored Grange Park to the spectacular restaurants and quirky shops of Baldwin Village, Grange Park may well be a perfect city neighbourhood.
Grange Park runs from Spadina Avenue on the west to University Avenue on the east, and from College Street along the northern edge down to Queen Street West on the southern edge. Baldwin Village is tucked into the centre of the neighbourhood, running along Baldwin Street from Beverly Street to McCaul Street. The neighbourhood is very young, with a large population of people under 30, due in part to the community’s proximity to the Ontario College of Art and Design as well as the University of Toronto. There are also lots of locals between 30 and 65, and most couples here do not have children. The vast majority of folks here live in condominiums, and there is a good selection of turn-of-the-century row houses, and some single family detached homes as well. The community forms part of Toronto’s Chinatown, and thousands of residents in the area speak Cantonese, Chinese and Mandarin. The average after-tax household income is nearly $49,000.
What you'll fall in love with:
At the centre of the neighbourhood, surrounded by asphalt and concrete and brick, you’ll find the spectacular new Grange Park: A pastoral, five-acre retreat from the roaring city that surrounds it. This quintessential urban park is used by 5,000 Torontonians every day. They descend from the office towers to eat lunch, meet with friends to practice tai chi or yoga, or roll out blankets to study in the sun. Daycares bring groups of children to play, dog owners bring their pooches for a run, and cyclists breeze through on their way to somewhere else. The park has benefitted from an $11 million restoration project that will include a new off-leash dog area and a stunning new playground for local children. Nearly 200 years after it was first built, the park is expected to open in the spring of 2017, making this great neighbourhood better than ever.
Grange Park is home to the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the largest art galleries in North America with a wide-ranging collection of more than 80,000 works, including the biggest collection of Canadian art in the world. In 2008, the gallery was re-designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, whose grandparents once lived in a row house on nearby Beverly Street. The gallery hosts renowned exhibitions from all over the world, and many locals purchase memberships and attend events year-round.
Toronto’s Chinatown extends into Grange Park as well, providing residents with some of the best dumplings, noodles and Dim Sum in the city – try Mother’s Dumplings, a beloved mom and pop restaurant where the staff make the dumplings fresh, right in front of you. Foodies will find lots of other cuisines on offer, too, from Bodega (French) to Stelvio (Northern Italian) to trendy Kinton Ramen (Japanese) and Platito Filipino Soul Food. Eaters with a sweet tooth will find unique, Thai-inspired ice cream rolls at Arctic Bites.
Many of these restaurants are in Baldwin Village, a tiny neighbourhood-in-a-neighbourhood at the very heart of the larger Grange Park. The village stretches three blocks along Baldwin Street, from Beverly Street to McCaul Street, with patios aplenty and hand-lettered signs adorning indy shops galore. From the laundromat and local video store to Around Again Records and Baldwin Naturals health food, you can find just about everything you need here. And if you ever get bored, you can swing west into Chinatown or head south to Queen West, both offering eclectic shopping options for the urban explorer.
A little bit of history:
The land where Grange Park now stand was first granted to Solicitor General Robert Isaac Dey Gray, in the 1790s. Gray’s family had fled the United States after the Revolutionary War in 1783, and brought their slaves with them; Gray inherited Dorinda Baker and her two sons from his father. In her book about the untold history of Canadian slavery, Dalhousie University scholar Afua Cooper says Dorinda was likely Gray’s father’s mistress, making her two biracial sons his half-brothers. Gray later returned to the United States and purchased Dorinda’s mother, reuniting the family in York. Like many in Canada’s early ruling class, Gray kept his slaves despite the growing abolition movement in Canada and the 1793 Act Against Slavery. He died in a shipwreck in 1804, however, and in his will he left the Bakers some of his land and money, and ordered that they be freed.
D’Arcy Boulton Jr. bought 13 acres of Gray’s land in 1808. He named it Grange Estate, after his home in England, and built a mansion there in 1818, which still stands today. The neighbourhood was a wealthy enclave until the late 1800s, when rich Torontonians started moving north to the area around Rosedale. By the early 1900s the area was thoroughly working-class, with row houses that were home to Jewish immigrants and, later, Chinese-Canadians. In 1910, Boulton descendants bequeathed the Grange Estate to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which still owns it today.
There are three elementary schools in Grange Park: Beverley Public, Ogden Junior Public and Orde Street Junior Public, which received an 8/10 in the Fraser Institute’s 2015-16 review of Canadian schools. The local high school is Heydon Park, and there are two alternative secondary schools: Subway Academy and Contact Alternative. Parents can also choose from some of the finest private schools in the country, with Braemar College right in the neighbourhood and schools like Upper Canada College and Bishop Strachan less than 15 minutes away. The well-regarded Ontario College of Art and Design University is in Grange Park as well, billed as “the largest and most comprehensive art, design and media university in Canada.”
Grange Park (Bladwin Village) on a map
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