Welcome to Leslieville!
Over the past few decades, Leslieville has quickly evolved from gritty to quietly gentrifying to increasingly trendy and covetable, with boutique condos springing up practically next door to century-old Victorians. While prices have gone up accordingly, it remains relatively accessible compared to many other sought-after areas in Toronto. Bound by the CN railway line to the north, Empire Avenue to the west, Eastern Avenue to south, and Coxwell Avenue to the east, Leslieville has often been nicknamed the Brooklyn of Toronto. This walkable East End neighbourhood would suit buyers looking for the sweet spot: Leslieville is close to downtown (but not hectic); it’s relaxed and family-friendly (but not boring); and it’s cool (but not overhyped and pretentious). As Goldilocks might say, it’s just right.
Leslieville has an approachable community vibe, as well as an independent, artsy and creative soul. This neighbourhood has a little bit of everything you could want—peaceful green space, cool cafés, restaurants and bars, delightful indie shops, specialty grocers and more. It’s also adjacent to other hot neighbourhoods—including Riverside (currently undergoing its own exciting transformation, especially with the arrival of the fashionable Broadview Hotel) and The Beach. Plus, with the upcoming development of nearby East Harbour—the largest commercial project currently planned in Canada—Leslieville is perfectly positioned to benefit from its proximity to the future “Downtown East.”
Whether you’re looking for a century-old Victorian full of character, a high-ceilinged loft conversion, a modern boutique condo, a classic semi or detached, or a cottage-like bungalow, Leslieville offers an incredible diversity of options in home styles. Some properties date all the way back to the late 1800s, and feature the kind of old-school-cool architecture they don’t make anymore. Meanwhile, exciting new developments are set to draw more neighbours into the area, including The Logan Residences, 875 Queen East, and the transformation of the historic Weston Bakery into condo lofts and townhomes. This makes Leslieville a future growth area to watch.
What You'll Fall in Love With
If you’re looking for an area that feels like an escape from the hustle—yet is also full of one-of-a-kind destinations in its own right—you’ve come to the right place. Rich in history, Leslieville originated as a small village in the 1850s, and if you don’t want to venture far from home, you can find everything you need right here. Whether you love to spend your time playing outdoors, sipping cocktails, taking in a show, shopping for items you won’t find elsewhere, or working up a sweat (Carlaw Avenue, between Gerrard and Queen, has arguably the city’s densest concentration of gyms/studios within a few short blocks), you’ll have endless options to entertain you on the East Side.
Once a thoroughly blue-collar neighbourhood, Leslieville remains largely middle-class (although its percentage of households in the highest income brackets exceeds the average for Toronto on the whole). Most locals are working age, and families are predominantly couples—almost evenly split between those with and without kids. Thanks to Leslieville’s recent gentrification and trendification, you’ll also see a growing number of young professionals, drawn here by their search for a condo or house outside the core, but still an easy commute to downtown.
The average price of a home in Leslieville is $935k. (Just a decade ago, it was $416k, which highlights how quickly this neighbourhood has changed.) Currently, the most accessible property type in this area is a one-bedroom condo, which averages $527k. By comparison, a three-bedroom townhouse or a three-bedroom semi-detached averages $1.06M. Finally, for those with the biggest budgets, a four-bedroom detached house averages $1.26M in Leslieville.
Leslieville is considered one of Toronto’s most family-friendly communities, making educational options especially important. The schools here include Morse Street Junior Public School (JK to Grade 6), attended by about 200 students. The building also houses Woodgreen Childcare, which offers before and after school care, as well as a kindergarten and preschool program.
Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School (JK to Grade 8) dates all the way back to 1912 and now has a diverse student population of around 800. Programs include Early French Immersion (SK to Grade 8) and Extended French (Grades 4 to 8). For those seeking formal religious education in the Catholic tradition, there’s St. Joseph Catholic School (JK to Grade 8).
Also located in Leslieville, Riverdale Collegiate Institute (Grades 9 to 12) prepares students for higher education: more than 80 percent of its graduates are accepted into their college/university/apprenticeship of choice. The high school takes pride in its modern library learning commons and its extracurricular offerings—more than 90 different clubs/teams in athletics, the arts and beyond.
A Little Bit of History
Leslieville started out as a small village in the 1850s and takes its name from horticulturalist and businessman George Leslie (1804-1893), who founded the Toronto Nurseries, which was at one time the largest business of its kind in Canada. (His trees added shady lushness to prominent places in the city, like Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Allan Gardens.) In those days, most Leslieville residents were gardeners or brick-factory workers, defining the neighbourhood’s blue-collar character.
The area also spent many decades as a hub for industrial factories, including metal smelters and tanneries—which made it less than desirable as a residential neighbourhood. Today, however, those industrial activities are a thing of the past, though you can still see some of the vast lands they once occupied. Some have been repurposed for “Hollywood North”—massive film studios like Showline Studios and the nearby Pinewood Toronto Studios—and there are still underdeveloped stretches of Leslieville awaiting transformation.
Leslieville’s closeness to the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway makes commuting particularly convenient. Downtown Toronto is a 10-minute drive or 25-minute streetcar ride. You could also easily hit the bike path by the waterfront and cycle downtown in about half an hour. The neighbourhood is also well connected to numerous bus routes.
Leslieville to Yonge/Bloor:
Bus plus Subway: 30 minutes
Walking: one hour and 10 minutes
Car: 15 minutes
Bike: 25 minutes
Locals will also benefit from easy access to two proposed SmartTrack stations—Gerrard-Carlaw and nearby East Harbour. Expected to open in 2024, the highly anticipated new transit system will connect Scarborough to Etobicoke via downtown.
Other points of interest:
– Union Station: 35 minutes by streetcar, one hour by foot, 15 minutes by car, 25 minutes by bike
While Leslieville may be a bit quieter than Toronto’s West End, it’s far from sleepy. For sports enthusiasts and families, there’s plenty of green space, including the 6.2-hectare Greenwood Park, where you’ll find two baseball diamonds, a multipurpose sports field, an outdoor pool and the city’s first covered outdoor artificial ice rink (open for skating in the winter and ball hockey in the summer). You can also play baseball, tennis, basketball and other outdoor sports at Jimmie Simpson Park, or sign up for a class at the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre next door. The community centre offers a full slate of activities for people of all ages, including swimming, fitness classes and after-school/preschool programs.
Leslieville is also close to all the attractions of The Beach, perfect for strolling on the boardwalk, running or biking on the Martin Goodman Trail, or just relaxing on the sand with a good book. You can also spend a leisurely afternoon wandering the shops of Queen Street East; the area is characterized by independent stores like the Arts Market (artisanal wares), Good Neighbour (hipster fashion), Baby on the Hip (eco-friendly baby gear) and Gadabout (vintage clothing).
For those more interested in food and drink, the restaurant and bar scene is thriving in Leslieville. There are hip spots to suit all tastes—most of them indie places with inventive menus, rather than cookie-cutter chains—especially on the Queen Street East strip. Indulge in fresh pasta at Frankie’s Italian (formerly the beloved Lil’ Baci); enjoy tacos and tequila on the patio at Barrio Cerveceria; or join the always-long weekend brunch line waiting for Lady Marmalade. Kick back with craft beers at Brooklyn Tavern, or tuck into French brasserie fare at Gare de l’Est (especially popular among those catching a show at Crow’s Theatre next door). There are too many foodie destinations to list them all here.
Leslieville on a map
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