From its humble beginnings as a small village housing those working in the industrial businesses nearby, Leslieville has become one of the trendiest and most sought-after neighbourhoods in Toronto.
Of course, for the many adults who grew up watching the various Degrassi TV shows, the area has a more sentimental value. Degrassi Street itself wends its way north through the area, which has now attracted popular restaurants, shops, galleries, antique stores and bakeries. Chic restaurants like Bonjour Brioche and Hello Toast now draw patrons from across the city.
Leslieville’s main shopping district runs along historic Queen Street, where the old diners and hardware stores that used to dominate are being supplemented by more trendy shops. Most of these stores are small and independently owned and offer a unique mix of clothing, furniture, design and gourmet food.
The area also includes Little India, which is a paradise for those seeking South Asian food, clothing or jewelry, and Chinatown East, for anyone seeking a spicy pho or dumpling.
Leslieville is also close to much of Toronto’s growing film industry, with the massive Pinewood Toronto Studios being only the biggest example. That means there’s always a chance of running into a movie star on the streets of Leslieville. Colin Farrell, for example, filmed the remake of Total Recall in the area, and Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro is filming his upcoming alien invasion epic at Pinewood.
The neighbourhood is bordered by the Canadian National railway line and Gerrard Street to the north, Empire Avenue to the west, Eastern Avenue to the south, and Coxwell Avenue to the east.
History and Social Profile
Leslieville began as a small village in the 1850s, which grew up around the Toronto Nurseries owned by George Leslie and sons, who bequeathed their name to the community. Most of Leslieville’s early residents were gardeners or were employed at one of the brick-making factories in the area. Then for decades, Leslieville and the surrounding areas were home to light industry, particularly along Eastern Ave. south of Queen St. Many of those industrial buildings are now in the process of being renovated, one reason why the area has become such a hot residential area.
And, of course, today Leslieville is better known as the place to go for brunch or coffee at one of the area’s great cafes, or to find antique furniture or vintage fashion.
And for the patriots looking to Leslieville, Alexander Muir — the composer of The Maple Leaf Forever — was the original principal of Leslieville Public School, one of the first buildings in the village. Muir was inspired when a brilliant maple leaf fell on his jacket from a Leslieville tree. That tree is still standing today at the corner of Memory Lane and Laing Street and has become a famous landmark in the community.
- Lahore Tikka House
- Lady Marmalade
- Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant
- Chino Locos
- Queen Margherita Pizza
- Ed’s Real Scoop
Leslieville is well served by the public transit system which operates bus or streetcar routes on Carlaw, Jones, Greenwood, Coxwell, and Eastern Avenues, as well as Queen and Gerrard Streets. Most of these bus routes link up with stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway line.
Motorists can be downtown in minutes. Lake Shore Boulevard, the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway are also close by.
- Bruce Jr., 51 Larchmount Ave., (416) 393-0670
- Roden Jr., 151 Hiawatha Rd., (416) 393-9555
- Leslieville Jr., 254 Leslie St., (416) 393-9480
- Duke of Connaught Jr. and Sr., 70 Woodfield Rd., (416) 393 – 9455
- St. Joseph, 176 Leslie St., (416) 393-5209
- St. William, 343 Jones Ave., (416) 393-5303
Public High Schools
- Riverdale Collegiate Institute, 1094 Gerrard St, East., (416) 393-9820