Located west of downtown but at the centre of Toronto’s cultural movement, Parkdale is a community that continues to defy expectations.
The small but tightly packed area that lies west from Dufferin Street to Roncesvalles Avenue and from Queen Street West to Lake Ontario is as varied as it is full of life and vigour.
Parkdale’s spirit is rooted in cultural diversity, with many new immigrants to the city for decades having called it their first home. Low rents throughout the community have contributed greatly to its appeal for working-class and immigrant residents, yet gentrification has been increasing in recent years as Toronto’s cultural wave continues to move westward along Queen and King Streets.
The neighbourhood suffered a difficult transition from the 1950s-’70s as the building of the Gardiner Expressway demolished large chunks of Parkdale and severed the community from its lake access, causing many businesses to close during those years.
Yet, Parkdale’s return to form has been impressive in recent decades, spurred on by a welcoming sense of community that has obviously rubbed off on residents and tourists alike.
A tour of Parkdale Village on Queen Street West reveals a thriving streetscape where mom-and-pop stores dominate, with charming antique furniture displayed proudly outside storefronts.
Movie crews frequently film in the area, with the telltale orange cones and lines of white trailers parked on side streets a testament to Parkdale’s visual appeal.
There’s a certain down-home charm to Parkdale that seems genuinely earned and residents who move away often lament missing the unique feel of the area.
Whether you’re taking a walk down by the lakeside, stopping in for a drink at one of TO’s hippest bars or cruising Queen Street West for a truly distinctive trinket, you’ll find that Parkdale is full of surprises.