Everyone knows the neighbourhood because of its haute couture, fine dining, plush hotels, art galleries and high-end shopping, but there’s more to the historic Village than just a glass of fine Chablis.
The Village of Yorkville began as a residential suburb with two main industries: the Yorkville Brick Yards and the Severn Brewery and the Joseph Bloor Brewery. In the 1960s, when the hippies moved in, the area was shabby and run down. It was here that musical icons like Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and underground literary figures like Margaret Atwood honed their crafts. In the 1970s and 80s, the area started to transition and chic boutiques, cafés, galleries, restaurants and salons moved in. It was also in the 1980s that the area caught the condo bug with over 20 new condo towers built in the last 30 years and several major towers in the works.
Yorkville has seen a building boom of late, with developers and builders getting in on the luxurious action. Density is the name of the game here, with the new Four Seasons Toronto condos, The Yorkville Plaza (the redevelopment of the old Four Seasons Hotel) by Camrost-Felcorp and Lifetime Development’s The Yorkville just some of the offerings. The area also has a stunning selection of historic Victorian homes.
Some of the other developments underway include:
• 1 Yorkville by Bazis and Plaza
• Minto Yorkville Plaza by Minto
• Number One Bloor by Great Gulf
• The Florian by Diamante Developments
• Yorkville Plaza, Yorkville Plaza II and Yorkville Private Estates by Camrost-Felcorp
• 33 Avenue Road Condos by Empire Communities
• Pears on the Avenue by Menkes Developments
• The One by Mizrahi Developments
• 143 Avenue Road by Dash Developments
• 8 Cumberland Condos by Phantom Developments
The Royal Ontario Museum is just the beginning of a tour of some of the most interesting galleries and museums in Toronto, including the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, the Mira Godard Gallery, the Heffel Fine Art Auction House and Gallery 36. The Windsor Arms Hotel is a stunning architectural masterpiece as well.
Parks & Rec
In 1993, the Village of Yorkville Park was opened, an awardwinning park on Cumberland Avenue, which was designed with elements taken from Yorkville’s history and Canada’s diverse geographic landscape. “The Rock,” as it has become known, is a favourite meeting spot in the area. It was moved in pieces from the Canadian Shield and transported on 20 flatbed trailers to Toronto. It’s about a billion years old and weighs 650 tonnes.
Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Escada, Chanel, Tiffany’s … does it get any better than the upscale designer boutiques that line the “Mink Mile” along Bloor Street? But for clever shoppers, there are a few treasures hidden amid the Prada and Yves Saint Laurent boutiques. Two consignment shops – Shoppe D’Or and L’Elegante — on Cumberland Avenue offer gently-worn designer apparel for a fraction of the original price. The iconic Hazelton Lanes, which first opened in 1976, is getting a major facelift, too.
The TTC has three subway stops along this stretch of Bloor Street. At the west end, the Museum Station leaves you at the door of the ROM and it’s a leisurely walk along the recently refurbished Bloor Street, Cumberland Avenue or Yorkville Avenue into the heart of the action. The Bay station has a pedestrian exit right on Cumberland (Sassafras is right across the street), and the Bloor/Yonge Station is at the east end of the neighbourhood. For those who use a limo, no worries; your driver knows where to go.
Eat Your Heart Out
Want a Big Mac? You can get that in Yorkville, but why not frequent one of the many iconic restaurants the neighbourhood has to offer, like Café Nervosa, Sassafras, Remy’s or Le Tour Normand. If you really want a burger, try Flo’s Diner. Want a drink? There is no better cocktail bar in the city than the Roof Lounge at the top of the Park Hyatt Hotel, followed closely by the cosy lounge at the Windsor Arms Hotel.