One of Toronto’s more diverse neighbourhoods, Dufferin Grove draws much of its flavour from the presence of Little Portugal in its borders. Mixed with a heavy Brazilian influence, a strong Caribbean presence along Bloor Street and the growing presence of Asian restaurants and culture, the area is rapidly becoming a favourite of young professionals and families, attracted to the friendly atmosphere, Victorian-era housing and still-affordable prices.
Bordered by Bloor Street to the north, Dufferin Street to the west, Dundas Street West to the south and Ossington Avenue to the east, Dufferin Grove has also become a prime site for art galleries and fashionable new restaurants. The area along Dundas Street West has become one of the hippest stretches in Toronto, as the music and artistic hotspots of the city move to the west. The area has also become home to a growing number of younger gays and lesbians, drawn to the area’s diversity, openness and willingness to experiment with art and culture.
As well as the eclectic mix of clothing, food, fashion and other stores — many Portuguese, Brazilian or Asian — along College Street and Dundas and the Caribbean flavour along Bloor Street, Dufferin Grove is also home to a number of parks and green spaces, most notably Dufferin Grove Park itself, affectionately known in the neighbourhood as the Big Backyard. The park is hugely popular with families and youth in the area. And Dufferin Grove also neighbours the Dufferin Mall, one of the largest and most popular shopping malls in the west end of the city.
History and Social Profile
The history of Dufferin Grove dates back to the late 1700s. The area was originally settled by Britain’s Denison family, who built several country villas in the area with names like Dover Court, Rush Holme and Heydon Villa.
The family sold the estate in the 1850s, and within 20 years, a network of roads had been built that configured the neighbourhood as it is today.
Beginning in the 1950s, the area, especially around Dundas, became home to a large influx of immigrants from Portugal, many of whom had originally arrived to work in the mining, railway and farming sectors of northern Ontario. As the city rapidly expanded and construction of skyscrapers and office buildings exploded, the Portuguese community became a major factor in the growth of Toronto.
The Portuguese influence is today most strongly felt in the stretch along Dundas Street west of Ossington known as Rua Açores, where many of the stores, markets, restaurants and cafes are Portuguese or Brazilian.
Today, the area has also become much more multicultural and a hotspot for cultural and artistic diversity. The area has established itself as a popular destination for Torontonians looking for a fun day or night out. And as new condo and housing projects are established, it’s becoming an increasingly popular place for those looking to live in one of Toronto’s hippest communities.
Many of the houses in Dufferin Grove were constructed in the late 1880s and early 1900s, in Victorian and Edwardian styles. The painted brick of the rowhouses and semi-detached homes still colour many of the quiet, tree-lined streets of the neighbourhood.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the area became popular to a large number of immigrants from Portugal, and slightly later, from Brazil. In fact, the stretch of Dundas West that runs through Brockton Village is also known as Rua Açores.
In more recent years, the area has become home to a number of Asian immigrants, particularly from China and Vietnam, which has added a new flavour to the neighbourhood, making the already colourful mix of restaurants and stores even more diverse. And as artists and galleries have found Dundas Street West more affordable and accepting than downtown, Dufferin Grove has taken on the reputation as being one of the most stylish new areas in the city. The result has been that housing in the Grove —coupled with recent construction and conversion projects to create high-end condominium and lofts — has become heavily in demand.
Dufferin Grove Park is a focal point of the neighbourhood, bringing together families, dog walkers, weekend athletes and those who just love the available green space. The park features a community bake oven, a music circle, a campfire, a community flower and vegetable garden, live theatre, a summer music festival, arts and crafts classes and a naturalization project. It also has tennis courts, a basketball court, a wading pool, an artificial ice rink and a field for soccer and football.
- Black Skirt
- Bairrada Churrasqueira Grill
- Sardinha O Rei Dos Frangos
- Brock Junior Public School, 93 Margueretta Street, 416-393-9245
- Dewson Street Junior Public School, 65 Concord Avenue, 416-393-9120
- Alexander Muir/Gladstone Ave Junior and Senior Public School, 108 Gladstone Avenue, 416-393-9140
- Ossington/Old Orchard Junior Public School, 380 Ossington Avenue, 416-393-0710
- Dufferin subway station
- Ossington subway station
- Buses run along Bloor, Dufferin and Ossington
- Streetcars run along Dundas and College