The Cabbagetown neighbourhood is a haven for fans of beautiful and historic architecture. The area, on the east side of downtown Toronto, contains the “the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in all of North America,” according to the Cabbagetown Preservation Association. Indeed, part of Cabbagetown has been officially designated as a Heritage Conservation District, and there are a number of historic tours held regularly in the neighbourhood.
The colourfully-titled area originally got its name in the 1840s, when thousands of Irish immigrants — fleeing the potato famine in their homeland — settled in the area. Legend has it that the residents, mostly poor, turned their front gardens into beds for cabbage, a food that was cheap and easy to grow. The crops were so prevalent that it bequeathed its name to the neighbourhood.
Today, Cabbagetown — bordered by Gerrard Street to the south, the Don River to the east, Sherbourne Street to the west and Wellesley Street to the north — is one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods, home to a vibrant combination of cultures and to a mix of academics, artists, celebrities and professionals, attracted by the proximity to the University of Toronto and the many cultural organizations located in the area.
History and Social Profile
Cabbagetown has undergone considerable gentrification since the 1970s, but the area retains much of its historic flavour, and is also a microcosm of Toronto’s famous diversity. While the quiet tree-lined streets have been or still are home to various celebrities — including former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, actress and director Sarah Polley, musician Avril Lavigne, designer Alfred Sung, ballerina Karen Kain, novelist Michael Ondaatje and Brent Butt of Corner Gas fame – the area is also home to an eclectic mix of ethnic restaurants and businesses, especially on Parliament Street. Off the main street, Cabbagetown contains a number of hidden gems when it comes to boutiques and antique stores.
Cabbagetown is also close to a number of Torontonians’ favourite green spaces, including Allan Gardens and and its renowned greenhouses and conservatory, and Riverdale Park, which contains the wildly popular Riverdale Farm, a working farm in the heart of the city.
The neighbourhood is also booming culturally, with the Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre running a variety of music and drama programs. The area has also established itself as a mini-mecca for dance, with the Danny Grossman Dance Company, the Toronto Dance Theatre and the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre, among others, all making their homes nearby.
The Cabbagetown Festival, held each September, has become a favourite annual event not just for local residents but for those from all over the city. Along with the parade and other events, the festival includes the annual Short Film and Video Festival.
And for those of a slightly more morbid turn of mind, the Necropolis Cemetery serves as the final resting place of a number of notable Canadians, including William Lyon Mackenzie, leader of the 1837 Rebellion and the first mayor of Toronto.
- Izakaya Guu
- Sukho Thai
- The Keg Mansion
- Stout Irish Pub
- Castle Frank and Sherbourne subway stations
- Wellesley subway station
The Sherbourne bus and Parliament streetcar connect passengers to stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The Wellesley bus and Carlton streetcar connect commuters to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.
For motorists, the Don Valley Parkway is approximately five minutes away, while Toronto’s downtown business and entertainment districts are less than 10 minutes from Cabbagetown.
- Lord Dufferin Jr. & Sr., 303 Berkeley Street, (416) 393-1760
- Sprucecourt Jr., 70 Spruce Street., (416) 393-1522
- Winchester Jr. & Sr., 15 Prospect St., (416) 393-1270
- Rosedale Heights Secondary School, 711 Bloor St. E., (416) 393-1580
Public High Schools
- Jarvis Collegiate Institute, 495 Jarvis Street, (416) 393-0140