Moss Park is one of the more evocatively named neighbourhoods in Toronto, although its history actually tends more towards the industrial. Originally home in the 1800s to many of Toronto’s early factories and warehouse districts, the area has since evolved into a mixture of condos, apartments and townhouses on a mix of major thoroughfares and quiet side-streets. And it does have a number of parks, including the southern edge of one of the city’s most famous parks, Allan Gardens.
Moss Park is bordered by Jarvis Street on the west, Queen Street East on the south and Parliament Street on the east. The northern boundary is either Dundas Street East or Carlton Street several blocks to the north.
The area was originally named for the moss that grew on the home of the Allen family on Sherbourne between Queen and Shuter streets. That mansion was torn down in the 1960s as the area became the site of intense urban development and the construction of public housing. More recently — especially since the turn of the century — with the development of the Distillery District and the rebuilding of period row houses in the neighbouring areas of Cabbagetown and Corktown, Moss Park has become a centre for revitalization itself. The existence of vintage townhouses on quiet, tree-lined streets like Berkeley has made the area a magnet for young professionals looking for upscale homes in areas where prices haven’t been driven sky-high.
As well as the world-famous botanical displays at Allan Gardens, the area also features Moss Park itself. At the northeast corner of Jarvis and Queen, part of the site is occupied by the Moss Park Armoury, which is used by several regiments of the Canadian Forces Primary Reserve. These include the 25 Field Ambulance, the 48th Highlanders of Canada, the 7th Toronto Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery and the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. Several cadet units also use the armoury. The park also contains the Moss Park arena, one of the city’s most popular rinks for skating and hockey. As well as hockey leagues for adults, the arena also offers summer camps for children and is one of the best places for those of any age to learn skating. In summer, the park is also a popular site for basketball and softball.
History and Social Profile
One of the major attractions of Moss Park is the presence of Allan Gardens on its northern edge. The park — which features a playground and two fenced-off walks for dogs — was founded in 1858 and is best known for its conservatory and the spectacular display of rare and beautiful flowers within.
The conservatory includes many tropical displays, including probably the best displays of orchids and cacti in the city. The seasonal shows — at Christmas, Easter and the first week of November, in particular — are magnets for flower-lovers from all over southern Ontario.
The trees in the park itself are sterling examples of black cherry, American beech, red oak, sugar maple and sassafras, with many well over a century old.
While the presence of spots like Allan Gardens and Moss Park is good for children, and there are a lot of family residences in part of the neighbourhood, Moss Park is undergoing a renaissance among young professionals. As more condos and lofts are developed — alongside the rebuilding of older row and townhouses and vintage residences — the area is becoming more popular among a younger demographic. Its proximity to downtown, and to such newly thriving neighbourhoods as the Distillery District, has meant that Moss Park is becoming more and more in demand.
- Smoke’s Poutinerie
- New Bilan
- Young Thailand
- Dominion On Queen
- 501 or 502 Queen Streetcar
- 505 Dundas Streetcar
- 506 Carlton/Gerrard Streetcar
- 75 Sherbourne Bus, leaving from Sherbourne Station on the Bloor line
- 65 Parliament Bus, leaving from Castle Frank Station on the Bloor line
- Lord Dufferin Junior and Senior Public School, 350 Parliament St., 416-393-1760
- Jarvis Collegiate, 495 Jarvis Street, 416-393-0140