St. Lawrence has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the late 1700s, yet to this day it is still the heart and soul of Toronto.
The neighbourhood, which lies just south of the Queen Street East as it passes Yonge Street, is like a microcosm of the city, bustling with artistic and mercantile energy and bringing together cultures and demographics alike.
The St. Lawrence Market proves to be a gourmand’s delight with a seemingly endless array of open-style fresh food stalls and shops on two levels drawing in throngs of shoppers from even outside of the GTA.
Historic buildings abound and the vibe is definitively more laid-back than could ever be expected in the belly of a downtown metropolis.
Average property value: $318,940
Homes you’ll see: Primarily condos throughout the area with older ones along Front and Wellington streets and newer ones along Richmond and Adelaide streets. Most residential buildings are built after the 1960s and 1970s.
Bargain spot: Prices are generally highest closer to the market and go down as you get further away from it. The Esplanade has several older but still attractive condo buildings that tend to be priced lower that the area’s average.
Landmarks: The St. Lawrence Market is the cornerstone of the area, pulsating with energy on Saturdays when farmers roll in with fresh goods and drawing tourists and locals alike throughout the week — enjoy free Wi-Fi service in the South Market building. St. James Park between Adelaide and King just west of Jarvis is packed in the summer with picnickers and stragglers looking for some shade. The wedge-shaped Gooderham Building (49 Wellington St. E.) is the oldest Flatiron buildings in North America, built five years before the more famous Fuller Building in New York City.
Hot spots: C’est What (67 Front St. E.) features local and in-house brews that will keep you testing out new flavours while Pravda Vodka Bar (44 Wellington St. E.) has the most impressive walk-in vodka freezer you’ll ever see and a cool, neo-revolutionary vibe to it — no cover on Friday nights and the place really hops. Epicureans will love La Maquette (111 King St. E.), an elegantly traditional restaurant that fuses Italian and French cooking and is renowned as one of the most romantic dinner spots in the city. Art lovers will be happy to know that the long-developed Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front St. E.) is scheduled to open Oct. 1.
Education: McKee PS (35 Church Ave.), Downtown Alternative School (85 Lower Jarvis St.), Market Lane Jr & Sr PS ( 246 The Esplanade), George Brown College (200 King St. E.), Voice Intermediate School (55 Mill St.)
Condos & developments: The Modern on Richmond (Richmond & Sherbourne), Cosmopolitan Hotel and Residences (8 Colborne St.), Bauhaus Condos (King & Sherbourne), Korman House by KC (229 Queen St. E.)
Getting around: Subway stations at Queen, King and Union with streetcar service along King and Queen streets. GO Train and intercity train service at Union Station.
Final thoughts: Relaxed, historic and full of life, St. Lawrence is not only Toronto’s oldest neighbourhood but one of its most inspiring. A place where old world charm mixes with modernity, the area is rightly one of the city’s most exciting and attractive to experience. On regular Saturdays in the summer you could be forgiven for thinking the place is perpetually holding some kind of festival, judging by the throngs of people trudging the streets in their flip-flops.
• 1: Nathan Phillips Square
• 2: Eaton Centre
• 3: St Michael’s Hospital
• 4: Moss Park
• 5: Kormann House (condo)
• 6: The Modern (condo)
• 7: St. James Park
• 8: George Brown College
• 9: Bauhaus (condo)
• 10: St. Lawrence Market
• 11: Cosmopolitan (condo)
• 12: Union Station
• 13: Gooderham Building
• 14: McKee Public School
• 15: Downtown Alternative School
• 16: David Crombie Park
• 17: Berkeley Street Theatre
• 18: Distillery District
• 19: Voice Intermediate School