There is no city in Canada like Toronto. Of course that is true for Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary etc…. There is one part of Toronto that reminds me of Vancouver and that is a neighbourhood called The Beach Village aka The Beaches. A quaint neighbourhood filled with old homes a few low rise apartments and plenty of cool and unique neighbourhood shops. Of course the big draw is the beaches that stretch along Lake Ontario from Leslie Street to Kingston Street. This is Old Toronto and I feel like I’m back home in the West End of Vancouver, all I’m missing is a cup of coffee and a walk along the Seawall (boardwalk).
One of the things I love about The Beaches neighbourhood is how easy it is to get to downtown Toronto. Queen Street runs right though The Beaches so all you have to do is hop on the Street Car and you are where you want to be. I’m sure during rush hour the Street Cars are packed like sardines but for my ride I was able to grab a seat and enjoy the tour through some of the adjacent neighbourhoods along the route to The Beaches.
Let’s start off my tour at the number one reason people live and visit The Beaches, the beaches of course. It’s early April here and even though it’s cold and windy and the grass is still brown there are thousands of people out walking the boardwalk. Some are running, some are out with kids in the stroller and some are like me with headphones on and a coffee in hand just enjoying the day. I really feel like I’m in Vancouver though because of the amount of dogs I see on leash and off leash in the HUGE Dog Park. It’s hard to tell in this photo but there are over 30 dogs and their owners playing in this park.
Off the water and back towards Queen Street East are the houses which are just gorgeous. Everyone has a small front yard, plenty of the homes are the red brick facade you see all over Toronto but new construction is also popping up. I’m guessing this neighbourhood may look a bit different in 20 years. Lots more glass and less red brick.
The heart of the neighbourhood where everyone shops and runs their errands is on Queen Street East. An eclectic street filled with shops of all kinds. From hardware to real estate and coffee shops to bakeries you won’t find the big Brand stores here but you will find small independent business making their mark on the community.
A couple of places that caught my eye all had to do with food and drink. First up was Tori’s Bakeshop an organic and vegan cafe & wine bar. I bought a couple of treats from here and ate them before I could take a picture. I swear I didn’t know it was a vegan bakeshop until I left and read the sign!
Another two places that caught my eye but I didn’t get to go in because they were both packed was the Beacher Cafe and Juice & Java Cafe and Catering. The Beacher reminded me of a place where you go to every weekend and the staff all know your name. It’s been open since 1986 so my guess is they probably know all the old time residents. Juice & Java definitely is a bit newer but looks to be serving up some tasty treats. If I lived in the hood I might just call upon these guys to cater my cocktail parties…. hmmmm.
So you see The Beaches could almost be picked up and transported to Vancouver and no one would know. The home exteriors are a bit different but with so much water access, park space and cool neighbourhood shops I’d be right at home in The Beaches.