Harbord Village Properties and Neighbourhood Guide

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Harbord Village Properties and Neighbourhood Guide

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Harbord Village Neighbourhood Guide

Welcome to Harbord Village:

Oozing with colour and character, Harbord Village is a heartbeat from the University of Toronto and filled with professors, students and folks from all walks of life who love the strong sense of community here. Classic Toronto bay-and-gable homes line the streets of this hip heritage neighbourhood, which is centred around the book, bike and bagel stores on bustling Harbord Street. This family-friendly community is a cyclist’s paradise, with a strong resident’s association that sends out a gardening crew to keep the city’s concrete planters overflowing with flowers and greens. A cozy community close to everything the city offers, Harbord Village is perfect for those who want a quiet, small-town vibe in the big smoke.

What you'll fall in love with:

Is it possible to fall in love with a loaf of bread? The people of Harbord Village will tell you the answer is yes. The iconic Harbord Bakery was established here by Albert and Goldie Kosower back in 1945. Two young Jewish immigrants from Poland, they raised their children on top of the store and built the bakery into a Toronto Landmark. Locals rave about the challah bread, bagels and schnecken, and some say the chocolate figs will transport you to magical places. Today, the bakery is a friendly, old-school anchor on trendy Harbord Street.

Neighbours:

Harbord Village is bordered by College Street on the south side, and Bloor Street on the north; it stretches from Spadina Avenue on the west to Bathurst Street on the east. The proximity to the University of Toronto means it’s a very young community: The vast majority of folks who live here are under 30. That said, many homeowners are over 40 and, while most here don’t have kids, the area is very family-friendly for those who do. The average after-tax income is just shy of $64,000 per year. Homes in the neighbourhood date back mainly to the early 20th century, with lots of traditional Toronto bay-and-gable detached and semi-detached homes, a good selection of townhomes and some newer condominium options as well.

Highlight:

Harbord Bakery, a local institution that draws folks from all over the city.

Local Schools:

Harbord Village is home to two elementary schools. King Edward Public received a 5.9/10 in the Fraser Institute’s 2015-16 review of Canadian schools, down from 8.2 in 2014. Lord Lansdowne was not ranked. The local high school is Central Technical School, which dates back to the late 1800s and offers standard and specialized curriculums in visual arts and technical studies.

The commute:

Harbord Village is home to many urban cyclists, thanks in part to excellent bike lanes along Harbord Street. Cycle down to Union Station in under 20 minutes, or to Yonge and Bloor in just 10 minutes. Taking a car or the TTC will take you just as long – and sometimes longer, depending on the time of day.

House styles:

Single and semi-detached bay-and-gable homes built as far back as the 1870s, with lots of row houses and condominiums to choose from, too.

Prices:

Average house prices in the neighbourhood are $1.68M, and condominiums range from $750.000 to $880.000

Life Style:

The first thing you’ll notice in Harbord Village is the bikes. During rush hour, cyclists make up 40 per cent of traffic along Harbord Street, making it the second-busiest bike route in the city. The neighbourhood is home to one of the best bike repair shops in the city, The Bike Joint, along with Rider’s Cycle and Board. Lots of folks who live here like to get in and out of the core on two wheels, and if you’re a cyclist, you’re likely to love it here.

The community is very tight-knit thanks to a very strong and active residents’ association. The group has an official Green Plan for the community, advocates for the neighbourhood on development issues and works on heritage conservation projects. They have undertaken laneway naming projects, helped locals take advantage of energy-saving initiatives from the government, and held a design competition for the local Doctor’s Parkette. Perhaps most fascinating is the association’s Oral History project, during with volunteers recorded more than 150 hours of interviews with local residents, uploaded segments online, and built “story posts” around the neighbourhood where passers-by can stream 24 audio recordings that tell local stories.

Harbord Village is also home to lots of great, local shopping. A perennial favourite is Ten Editions books, a warren of dusty softcovers and rare finds on shelves reaching so high you’ll need to climb the rolling library ladder to get to the top. Other bookstores include Parentbooks for moms and dads and the local sci-fi gem, Bakka Phoenix Books. There’s the Health Hut (for all-natural beauty supplies), Ring Music (selling epic guitars since 1969) and Good For Her (toys for grown ups). If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, Bloor Street offers just about anything a person could need. College Street, on the south side, offer great nightlife just a few blocks away.

If you’re hungry, try the Harbord Bakery for bread and sweets, the Harbord House for comfort food, or Rasa for global cuisine. Locals also love the Harvest Kitchen, a “walk-in neighbourhood restaurant, with everyday food that is consciously sourced.” HK Chef Owen Steinberg sources much of the food locally, and the restaurant gives out gift cards in exchange for help on its Skinny Barn Farm near Coburg, Ontario.

Locals work out at the University of Toronto Recreation Centre or the Jewish Community Centre, and neighbourhood streets are perfect for walking. The community itself is home to just one green space, the Margaret Fairley Park, which has a playground for children near the centre of the neighbourhood. But many locals take advantage of Bickford Park a few short blocks west, a seven-acre green space with two bocce courts, several baseball diamonds and a popular off-leash dog park.

A little bit of history:

The first home built in the Harbord Village area dates back to 1815, when George Dennison built the Georgian-style Bellevue estate on land he purchased after returning from the War of 1812. The home, along with a sprawling farm and orchard, stood near the corner of Augusta Avenue and Wales Avenue while the city grew up around it. The University of Toronto was established in 1850, and the construction of working-class homes started in earnest in the 1870s. Bellevue was razed in 1890 and the neighbourhood continued to grow, attracting immigrants from around the world.

From the 1920s through to the 1960s, the neighbourhood was predominantly Jewish, and by the 1970s it was also home to students along with Chinese and Portuguese immigrants. The city targeted the area for slum clearance, which prompted locals to form the Sussex-Ulster Residents’ Association (SURA). Together, they succeeded in blocking much of the city’s program, and the neighbourhood started to gentrify in the 1980s. SURA reincarnated itself as the Harbord Village Residents’ Association in 2000, and has since worked to achieve heritage designations, preserve local history and beautify the current streetscapes.

Harbord Village on a map