The name Etobicoke is derived from the Anishinaabe-speaking Mississauga tribe’s word wadoopikaang, which means “place where the alders grow,” defining the area between the Etobicoke Creek and the Humber River.
The first land surveyor to the area spelled it “Ato-be-coake,” and it officially became Etobicoke in 1795 under the orders of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe.
In 1790, the first European immigrants started settling in the area, mostly from Britain, and included many of the Queen’s Rangers, who were given land in the area by Simcoe to help protect the new capital (Toronto) of Upper Canada.
The township of Etobicoke was incorporated in 1850; in 1917 Mimico became a town and New Toronto in 1920. Long Branch was incorporated in 1930 as a village.
In 1967, the township of Etobicoke merged with Long Branch, New Toronto and Mimico to form the Borough of Etobicoke, which incorporated as a city in 1984. In 1998, six municipalities — including Etobicoke – amalgamated to form the City of Toronto.
Etobicoke has the lowest population density of the former municipalities that make up Toronto, mainly due to is expanses of industrial lands along its many highways, including the QEW and Highways 401, 427 and 409.
Although most of Etobicoke consists of single-family homes — with many grand old mansions along Lake Shore Boulevard — many condo developments have been built along its lakefront near the mouth of the Humber River, especially in the area that used to be known as the “Motel Strip.”
South Etobicoke has many old communities, including Mimico, Long Branch, New Toronto, Islington Village, Markland Woods, Bloordale Gardens, Sunnylea, Alderwood and The Queensway.
To see a list of all the developments in South Etobicoke, go to CondoLifeMag.com.
Within the boundaries of South Etobicoke, you will find three golf courses: St. George’s, Islington and Markland Woods. All are private and all are spectacular, but Etobicoke is also home to other exclusive courses, including Lambton and Weston, as well as public courses Royal Woodbine, Scarlett Woods, Centennial Park and Humber Valley.
There are lots of festivals and fairs, including the Etobicoke Lakeshore Mardi Gras in Colonel Samuel Smith Park, with food, live blues and jazz music, buskers, a beer garden, as well as vendor booths.
Taste of The Kingsway takes place on Bloor Street West every year, with over 30 restaurants serving up delicious food. The annual Mimico Tulip Festival is held on Royal York Road every spring and is centred on the unveiling of four-foot-tall tulips painted by various community groups and children. There is also jumping castles, rock climbing, face painting, balloons and carnival games for children of all ages. The Mimico Pumpkin Parade is held every November 1 so that young artists can show off their Halloween jack-o-lanterns before they head to the composite heap.
The Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery is dedicated to promoting local artists and also holds juried art shows by provincial and national organizations.
During the summer, you’ll find farmers’ markets dotted throughout Etobicoke, the two biggest held on Saturday at the Etobicoke Civic Centre and Friday at Sherway Gardens.
Parks & Rec
Etobicoke has numerous green spaces and large parks, the biggest of which are Centennial Park and the spectacular Colonel Samuel Smith Park, situated on the old asylum grounds and shared with Humber College. Here you will find a fantastic ice-skating trail in the winter that circles around in a figure eight. You’ll also be able to enjoy the scenic hiking trail along a peninsula on Lake Ontario, which provides access to the waterfront, and several rocky beaches with views of the Toronto skyline. It’s also a great place for watching wildlife, including over 100 species of birds, waterfowl, turtles and beavers.
The Etobicoke Olympium, which opened in 1976, is a multi-purpose centre for sports and recreation and was home to some of the events of the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games. It boasts a 50-metre competitive pool with diving boards, as well as basketball courts, ball hockey and volleyball courts, plus an indoor soccer facility.
The Eighth Street Skatepark opened in 2011 and features handrails, quarter pipes, ledges, stairs and a bowl.
There are great boutiques, shops, cafés, restaurants and services along all the main avenues, most impressively along Lake Shore Boulevard and Royal York Road. Sherway Gardens is one of the premiere malls in the GTA, which is home to over 200 shops and services, including The Bay, Sporting Life, Tiffany & Co., Holt Renfrew, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. For more meagre budgets, Cloverdale Mall is sure to fit the bill.
Several highways bisect and surround Etobicoke, including Highways 427, 401, 409 and the QEW, making it easy to get around in an automobile. The Bloor- Danforth subway has two stops — at Kipling and Islington — and the TTC has a number of bus and streetcar routes throughout the area. GO Transit also has stations at Mimico and Long Branch, making it easy for commuters to get into downtown.
Eat your heart out
There’s a definite aroma of European food as you drive through South Etobicoke, and some of the best of these are Posticino Ristorante, La Veranda Osteria, Grappa Ristorante and Luci. If you’re looking for hearty, home-style cooking, try Izba, where the specialty is schnitzel — big enough to cover a platter — as well as goulash, borsch and crepes. A more homey feeling can be found at Etobicoke’s landmark Mamma Martino’s, but be prepared to wait; there’s often a lineup. For a little honky tonk fun, head to the legendary Blue Goose Tavern, which was built in 1909 and originally known as the Windsor Public House.