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Neighbourhoods

Riverside

Street Sign by Loozrboy
Street Sign by Loozrboy

Riverside, formerly known as Queen Broadview Village, is a small multicultural and mixed-income neighbourhood located within the larger neighbourhood of South Riverdale. Nestled between downtown, the Film District, Danforth Avenue and the Beaches, Riverside District is named after the Don River, to which it is adjacent. It is one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods, with long strong historic ties with the surrounding South Riverdale neighbourhood. It is also a commercial area, featuring many small, family-run shops,as well as supermarkets and big box stores.

Over the last 16 years, the association of local business people has spearheaded several revitalization projects in the area, including seasonal festivals and other events, the addition of seasonal decorations and flowers in planters, the spectacular city-wide “Cavalcade of Lights” displays, a building facade improvement program, and many other activities. The current gentrification along Queen St. East and Broadview Ave has totally refreshed Riverside.

Real Estate

Over the last few years, Riverside has jumped into the limelight, and through rapid gentrification it has transformed into a premier strip of real estate on Queen St East, attracting new establishments of all sorts. The Riverside lofts are located just minutes from downtown at the intersection of two major streetcar routes. The lofts are also a short distance away from both the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth subway lines. The finest houses in Riverside are located between Queen and Dundas.

Don Mount Court/Rivertowne Community

Riverdale Park in 1922 by City of Toronto Archives
Riverdale Park in 1922 by City of Toronto Archives

The Don Mount Court/Rivertowne community, one of the city’s oldest downtown communities, has recently transformed into a dynamic neighbourhood. In the area, Canada’s first public housing development was rebuilt, bringing together urban condominium townhomes and a modern community housing redevelopment on new public streets with landscaped boulevards, courtyards and pedestrian walkways.

The Toronto Community Housing, a group of rental townhomes and three-storey apartment buildins, comprises a mix of one to five bedroom units in different suite styles, including wheelchair accessible units. The buildings were designed in the height and style of surrounding low-rise buildings, with designs similar to market housing.

The new community also welcomes the extension of Munro Street to Queen Street East and the creation of a two-acre neighbourhood park. This revitalization happening in Riverside has succeeded in improving the city’s aging public housing and the quality of nearby communities.

Broadview Lofts

On Broadview Avenue just south of Queen Street East, there is a former warehouse that is now converted into condominiums. The building was originally erected in 1914 as the Rexall pharmacy warehouse and drug distribution company. In 2003, the Sorbara Group began converting it to loft style condominiums but preserved many historic elements of the building, such as the cage elevators and a water tower on top of the roof. The conversion has been much praised, and in 2008 the Broadview lofts finished second in the Pug Award voting for best residential building.

Ralph Thornton Community Centre

Named after Ralph Thornton—a taxi driver and prominent community activist in the Riverdale area—this community centre serves the Leslieville/South Riverdale neighbourhood. It is home to the Queen/Saulter branch of the Toronto Public Library, a day care and 30 community organizations. The neoclassical heritage structure was designed by E.J. Lennox and was originally built to house Postal Station G. It opened in 1913, was leased to the city, and then it was converted into a community centre in 1979.

Reenacting Battle in Riverdale Park by Eli Pousson
Reenacting Battle in Riverdale Park by Eli Pousson

The Opera House

If you love music and entertainment, the Opera House is the ideal place to visit! Located at 735 Queen Street East, the Opera House has been a landmark facility in Toronto’s downtown core for the past 20 years and has hosted some of the biggest, most original and unique concert and special events in Toronto, hosting shows from modern rock superstars like Rage Against the Machine and controversial rap superstar Eminem to special events such as charity fundraisers and snowboard movie launches.

The Opera House is one of the city’s oldest performing venues, having opened in 1909 as a Vaudeville theatre. It was developed as the first mass market entertainment venue, with highly organized revolving shows that combined the spectacle of the circus with the entertainment of bars and pubs. Seating almost 700, the idea was to entertain the emerging middle class with disposable income and leisure time. By its very nature, Vaudeville was a ‘grind industry’, as most of the theatres were pumping out 5 full-length shows a day. In the early 1990s, it became The Opera House music venue, still retaining the charm of the original vaudeville architecture.

Riverdale Park and Farm

Are you ready for some fun with your family? Riverdale Park is a recreational centre, at the corner of Winchester and Sumach, offering sports fields, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a jogging track, and it also serves as an access point to the Lower Don Recreation Trail. In Riverdale park, you ’ll also find the municipally-operated Riverdale Farm where you can take your children to enjoy demonstrations of daily chores including animal feedings, egg collection, cow and goat milking, and horse grooming.

You can take pathways through 7.5 acres of wooded areas, around ponds and into butterfly-herb-vegetable-flower gardens. Along the way, at barns and outdoor paddocks, say hello to cows, horses, donkey, sheeps, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, and cats. Beyond a delightful stroll, the Farm offers activities and fun for all ages. Some highlights include the parent and tot programs, pottery, quilting, summer day camps, yoga, tree planting, fresh bread from the wood oven, and the Thursdays Farmers’ Market.

Time and A Clock by DubbingHammer
Time and A Clock by DubbingHammer

“Time: and a Clock.”

In 1996, Eldon Garnet, a Toronto-based artist heralded as one of the “most inventive designers of public sculpture in Canada”, prepared a 3-piece installation to encircle the Queen East area. The installation is called “Time: and a Clock.” and it displays three different types or styles of time-related text on each site.

The first of the three pieces is the decoration of the Queen Street East bridge that arches over the Don River. It is a clock and above it reads the phrase: “This river I step in is not the river I stand in.”

The second part of the installation is further east at the intersection of Queen Street East and Broadview. On each of the four corners, Garnet embedded a time-related phrase into the sidewalk:

  • South-west corner: “Distance = Velocity x Time”
  • North-west corner: “Time is money, money is time”
  • North-east corner: “Too soon free from time”
  • South-east corner: “Better late than never”

The third piece of the installation is on Queen Street near Empire Avenue. There are four slim poles with stainless steel banners bearing the words “coursing”, “disappearing”, “trembling” and “returning”, meant to describe the essence of time.

The text is written for a metropolis of readers who may read one word today at one site, or read the entire text at all three sites on another day. It is text in flux.

Riverside Cemetery and Crematorium

Established in 1892, Riverside Cemetery has served Etobicoke and the surrounding community for over a century. It continues to provide a variety of disposition options, from traditional ground burial to the latest cremation options. Riverside’s Crematorium was completed in 1965 and was one of the first crematoriums in Toronto; in addition the Riverside chapel opened at the same time. Today, it is also a peaceful place for quiet reflection.

Interesting Tidbits

  • The curving blue brick water line in the new sidewalk renovations and street upgrade meandering through the Riverside area are in the Riverside logo design.
  • Queen Street was a very important street in the 19th century as it was the main highway from York (Toronto) to Kingston. The Queen street bridge was known as Don Bridge, and it was the only adequate route across the Don River to the eastern communities. At the time, laws dictated that no one could drive over the bridge faster than at walking pace.
  • Built in 1891 by Archy Dingman, the Broadview Hotel was at the time the tallest building east of the Don River. It was a very high profile building with a lush interior, home to the offices of many top professionals including lawyers, dentist,s and the staff of the Imperial Bank of Commerce. Today, the hotel caters to another type of clientele—Jilly’s Adult Entertainment has taken up residence in the old building.
Riverside Neighbourhood Map 1
Riverside Neighbourhood Map

Boundaries & Transportation

Definite boundaries have never been drawn for Riverside, but according to the  Riverside Business Improvement Area Plan, it can be assumed that the borders are the Don River to the west, Gerrard St. East to the north, Logan Avenue to the east and Eastern Ave. to the south.

The area provides access to the rest of the city via  extensive streetcar lines, bike networks, pedestrian-scaled streets, and linkages to Lakeshore Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway. On-street parking is available and a Green P parking lot is situated just north of Queen Street on Broadview Avenue.

Schools

Dundas Jr. Public School is the resident school for children in kindergarten through to fifth grade, after which they are transferred over to Queen Alexandra Sr. Public School, which sees students through to eighth grade. Riverside is also home to First Nations School of Toronto, a cultural survival school that places heavy emphasis on aboriginal values and culture. In Riverside, you will also find SEED Alternative Secondary School, Canada’s first public alternative school.

Interested in living in the neighbourhood? Browse the MLS Listings for the perfect house or condominium available in this area.

Riverside Neighbourhood Satellite View
Riverside Neighbourhood Satellite View