The Annex Properties and Neighbourhood Guide

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The Annex Properties and Neighbourhood Guide

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The Annex Neighbourhood Guide

Welcome to The Annex:

A favourite with university students, artists and downtown entrepreneurs, the Annex is a bustling urban neighbourhood that has for generations inspired some of Canada’s most prolific and famous creatives. Unique “Annex-style” homes line historic, canopied side-streets while city life rushes past on the main arteries. The local commercial strip features a wide variety of affordable stores and cultural destinations. In this diverse community close to the University of Toronto, city life doesn’t get much better than this.

What you'll fall in love with:

Residents love the tremendous diversity and playful spirit of the Annex, which is home to everyone from first-year university students to urban families and best-selling authors, intellectuals and government types. Locals find plenty to do here in this creative and curious neighbourhood, whether they’re heading to see a documentary at the Bloor Cinema, fishing around at the Annex Pawn shop, or waiting to see a local band at Lee’s Palace.

Neighbours:

The neighbourhood is bound by Dupont Street on the north, Bloor Street to the south, Bathurst Street on the west side and Avenue Road to the east. The close proximity of two large post-secondary schools means many students rent apartments in the Annex, but homeowners here tend to be over 30. Local apartment buildings include towering slab designs by architect Uno Prii, but the side streets are filled with century-old single-family homes, some of which have been renovated into multiple separate apartments. Today, prices in the Annex hover around $1.4 million on average, but the most luxurious properties sell for much more.

The Annex is home to some of Canada’s most illustrious creatives and entrepreneurs. Margaret Atwood, the country’s most celebrated author and environmental activist, has long lived in the neighbourhood, as have the heirs to the Eaton’s department store. Urban activist Jane Jacobs long called the Annex home, as did environmentalist David Suzuki, CBC producer Ken Finkleman, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and members of the Canadian band Sloan.

Local Schools:

The Annex is right next door to the University of Toronto and George Brown College, and has excellent elementary and secondary schools. The private Royal St. George’s College educates boys from Grades 3 to 12 at a cost of roughly $30,000 per year, while the private co-ed Howlett Academy educates children from kindergarten to Grade 8 using a unique curriculum and a 5:1 student-teacher ratio.

Taddle Creek Montessori is open to children from two to 12 years of age, with 110 students enrolled. The local public school, Huron Street Junior Public, ranked 6.9/10 in the Fraser Institute’s 2015-16 report on schools. Education extends outside the classroom as well, with lots of extra-curricular clubs and camps available for youngsters at nearby museums and galleries.

House Style:

Single-family century homes on small lots, executive row houses and condominiums.

Prices:

An average home price of $1.4 million, rising considerably higher for larger properties.

Life Style:

Students rub elbows with Canada’s creative elite in this lively district, anchored by the popular commercial district along Bloor Street. Pubs, nightclubs, boutiques, independent bookstores and affordable restaurants offer something for everyone, from sushi and burritos to Sartre and de Beauvoir. The real draw, though, is the culture.

Home to the Royal Ontario Museum and a block away from Casa Loma, the Annex offers access to some of the most fascinating tours and exhibitions open to Canadians today. The Bata Shoe Museum is also right in the neighbourhood, too, for fans of footwear/fashion history. Every summer, the Annex hosts Toronto’s Fringe Theatre Festival, during which local artists put on drama, dance and comedy productions. The century-old Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema is another local jewel, showing first-run Canadian and international documentaries, as well as indie film festivals—including North America’s largest documentary film festival, Hot Docs.

Local libraries include the Spadina Road Public Library and, just south of Bloor, the University of Toronto’s enormous Robarts Library, one of the best examples of brutalist architecture in Canada. Gyms include the university’s athletic centre and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, in the heart of the community, offers a variety of programs and services for indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians alike. Political buffs will appreciate the proximity to Queen’s Park, the seat of Ontario’s government, which is right across the street.

A little bit of history:

The Annex is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Toronto, with European settlers putting down roots here as early as 1790. Almost 100 years later, developer Simeon Janes created the neighbourhood on paper, naming it the Toronto Annex. Initially home to the very wealthy, the first residents included the president of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery (now at the centre of Toronto’s new Distillery District) and the founder of Canada’s Eaton’s department store.

In the early 20th century, many affluent residents moved out. This was in part because new subdivisions were opening on the outskirts of the city, and partly because the widows of men who had died in the war were forced to take in boarders to keep themselves afloat. By the 1980s, professors and middle-class families were moving in, and the neighbourhood started to develop the mixed bohemian character it has today.

The commute:

Locals commuting by public transit can jump on the TTC and be down to Union Station in 13 minutes. The same trip will take 20 minutes by car, 25 minutes by bike and about an hour on foot. The city’s second main intersection, Yonge and Bloor, is a quick 10 minute transit ride away, seven minutes on bike and about 25 minutes on foot.

What you won't find:

There are no cookie-cutter suburban-style houses for sale here; prospective home buyers choose between century homes on small lots, a few condominium developments and a handful of row houses.

The Annex on a map