The Bridle Path is known as the most exclusive neighbourhood in Toronto. It is, in fact, the wealthiest neighbourhoood in the entire country, as measured both by household income and property values. Almost every house in the Bridle Path is valued at a minimum of several million dollars and sits on a lot of at least two acres.
The Bridle Path is a quiet, secluded neighbourhood, with few roads running through it. Early plans for the area envisioned a series of trails for horses — or bridle paths — crisscrossing the area. While those paths have mostly been paved over, their design remains in the fact that those roads are wide and tree-lined, and the area is marked by extensive greenery and parks. Bordered by the road actually known as the Bridle Path on the north, Bayview Avenue on the west, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on the south and Wilket Creek — which flows through Windfields Park — and Leslie Street on the east, the neighbourhood also offers views of the Don River Valley and the West Humber River Valley. Several exclusive and expensive clubs, including the Bayview Country Club and the Granite Club, take advantage both of the natural greenery and of the residential exclusivity.
The Bridle Path is also known for housing a Who’s Who of Canadian wealth and business. Homeowners include Conrad Black and Celine Dion. Rock star Prince also reportedly owns a house in the neighbourhood, although his Royal Purpleness has seldom been seen in the Bridle Path. And one house in the area was used as a location for the movie Mean Girls — starring Rachel McAdams and Tina Fey — standing in as the house of one of the title girls.
The large lots in the Bridle Path also mean that residents are able to build their dream houses. While most houses there were constructed between the 1930s and the 1960s, they provide an eye-popping cornucopia of architectural styles. Georgian, Colonial, Greek, Tudor, Neo-Gothic, futuristic homes, they’re all on display in the Bridle Path. Even the very few ultra-upscale condominiums in the Bridle Path are as gorgeous and individualistic as the mansions.
The result is that the Bridle Path provides unparalleled eye candy for architectural aficionados and those planning their own dream homes. But for the residents of the Bridle Path, the major attraction of the neighbourhood is not only its luxurious setting and its proximity to downtown, but the seclusion and privacy the area offers to residents.
History and Social Profile
The area was first developed in 1827 by Alexander Milne, who developed wool and saw mills on Wilket Creek, in what is now Edwards Gardens. Milne relocated his operations in 1832 when a growing lack of water made it impractical to operate the mills. For the rest of the 1800s and the early 1900s, the area was mainly farmland. But in 1929, when the Bayview Bridge was constructed over the Don River Valley, connecting the area to Toronto, it started to be seen as ideal soil for development.
Hubert Daniel Bull Page, a local developer, was the first to see the potential, visualizing the neighbourhood as a private enclave of expensive and expansive houses. Page built his own home — designed by his brother Forsey after the style of houses on Cape Cod — at 2 Bridle Path as an example to other buyers.
Page’s strategy worked, as the area quickly became known as one of the most desirable and exclusive neighbourhoods in the country. The neighbourhood received another boost in 1937 when E.P. Taylor — a brewery magnate and developer, who would become one of the world’s most famous breeders of horses when his farm produced Northern Dancer — purchased a parcel of land in the neighbourhood, which his wife named Windfields. The Taylor estate now houses the Canadian Film Centre, a project established by director Norman Jewison to boost young Canadian film talent.
At the same time, Taylor’s business partner, George Montegu Black — father of Conrad — built his own mansion in the area, and then bought the company that owned the remaining farmland in the area. Black was instrumental in enacting bylaws that dictated that only single-family dwellings could be built, and that they must be built on lots of at least two acres. Those plans set the course for the shape of the Bridle Path.
That exclusivity also shows up in many of the attractions in the Bridle Path. The nearby York Mills Plaza may be the most upscale in the GTA, and the Bayview Village Shopping Centre trails only marginally.
The Bridle Path has a number of parks, as well. Edwards Gardens Park has its own rose garden and nursery and also houses the Toronto Botanical Gardens. As well, the park marks the start of a trail through the Don River Valley, all the way east to Scarborough. In the north is Banbury Park and York Mills Park. Sunnybrook Park lies to the south, with cricket pitches and fields for hockey, rugby and soccer, and, fittingly enough, facilities for riding horses. Glendon Forest also borders the Bridle Path.
- Miller Tavern
- Monkey Bar and Grill
- Auberge du Pommier
- Lawrence Station
- Bayview Station on the Sheppard line
- Buses run along Bayview Avenue, Lawrence Avenue and Leslie Street
- Park Lane Public School, 60 Park Lane Circle, 416-395-8525
- Windfields Junior High School, 375 Banbury Road, 416-395-3100
- Rippleton Public School, 21 Rippleton Road, 416-395-2810
- St. Andrew’s Junior High School, 131 Fenn Avenue, 416-393-3090
- Denlow Public School, 50 Denlow Boulevard, 416-395-2300
- Harrison Public School, 81 Harrison Road, 416-395-2530
- Dunlace Public School, 20 Dunlace Drive, 416-395-2370
- Northern Secondary School, 851 Mount Pleasant Road, 416-393-0270
- York Mills Collegiate Institute, 490 York Mills Road, 416-395-3340