“Yorkville, that little offshoot of Toronto which a few years ago consisted of a couple of taverns and a store, has waxed populous and strong, and now takes upon itself the cares and responsibilities of villagehood.”
- The Globe, May 6, 1852.
In 1852 the Toronto suburb of Yorkville, population 800, incorporated as a village. In its time, the community boasted two newspapers, its own flag, and a civic brass band. The Yorkville Fire Hall, circa 1876, still displays the village coat of arms.
In the 1960’s Yorkville was the epicenter of Toronto’s hippie culture. Venues like The Riverboat coffeehouse hosted Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Young people flocked to Yorkville’s inexpensive rooming houses and thriving countercultural scene. Tourists of all ages jammed the streets, eager to see hippies in their natural habitat. The Establishment saw Yorkville as a latter day Sodom and Gomorrah. Many of their offspring saw it as proof there was hope for Toronto.
Today, Yorkville has been rebranded as a high-end shopping district. The rooming houses have been replaced by single family houses, condominiums and luxury hotels. Tourists mingle with Torontonians to savour the neighbourhood’s delights. Celebrity spotting is a favourite pastime for some, especially during September’s Toronto International Film Festival. This event always brings famous visitors to Yorkville’s shops, galleries and restaurants.
Yorkville is bordered by Avenue Road on the west, Yonge Street on the east, Bloor Street on the south and the railway tracks on the north. The intersection of Yonge and Bloor streets is also the junction of the Yonge line and Bloor-Danforth subway line. Nearby, the Don Valley Parkway gives motorists access to uptown and HWY 401.
There are very few newly-built and infill houses in Yorkville. Most homeowners have chosen to renovate their acquisitions rather than razing them. This sensibility has preserved the original Victorian and Edwardian aesthetic of the neighbourhood.
Most of Yorkville’s single family homes are townhouses or semi-detached dwellings, although some detached properties occasionally come on to the market. In 2015, the average price for a detached house was $2 million, while a semi-detached or townhouse traded for $1.5 million.
The neighbourhood's condominium market is all over the map. Modestly priced pied-a-terre properties contrast newer "luxury" towers vying for the custom of the ultra rich. 2015 condo prices averaged $1.1 million, within a range of $200,000 to above $10 million.
The international shopper will be very comfortable in Yorkville. Many of the most recognized name brands are represented by their own retail boutiques. Large retailers like Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, The Bay and Stollery’s all contribute to enhancing buyer choice. Hungry shoppers who are ready to drop also have a wealth of dining and recreational opportunities.
The Village of Yorkville Park is located at 155 Cumberland Street. Its non-traditional landscaping has won numerous design awards. In summer, the 650-ton giant rock at the park’s west end is popular with sunbathers. To the north, Ramsden Park, at 1020 Yonge Street, features 2 playgrounds, a wading pool, and a tennis court which serves as an outdoor ice rink in winter.
Over the past 160 years, Yorkville has changed from village to bohemian hangout to international shopping district. In addition, its well-tended housing stock and central location preserves its value as a fine residential neighbourhood.
The Toronto neighbourhood map displayed on this website was published in “Your Guide to Toronto Neighbourhoods”, is copyright Maple Tree Publishing and has been reproduced by the Toronto Real Estate Board under license.