Yorkville is one of the most well-known neighbourhoods in Toronto, and certainly one of the most trendy. Each September, when the Toronto International Film Festival takes over the town, Yorkville is still flooded with celebrities frequenting the many bars, restaurants and fashionable stores.
But Yorkville also has a history rooted in the ’60s counter-cultural scene, when neighbourhood clubs and coffeehouses such as the Purple Onion and the Myna Bird gave birth to such internationally famous musicians as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as then-underground literary figures such as Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee and William Gibson.
Yorkville was also the birthplace of Mr. Submarine, when local entrepreneurs decided they could make a fortune feeding hungry hippies. The first location, at 130 Yorkville Avenue, soon led to a second, and then an international success story.
Subsequently, Yorkville — especially along Bloor Street — has become Toronto’s equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue or LA’s Rodeo Drive, populated by upscale boutiques including Burberry, Prada, Gucci, MAC Cosmetics, Hugo Boss, Chanel, Harry Rosen and many more. As well, top-end hotels like the Four Seasons make Yorkville their home.
That distinctive character, along with the European-style atmosphere of the streets and its proximity to the heart of downtown and to such cultural and intellectual institutions as the University of Toronto, the Toronto Reference Library and the Royal Ontario Museum, has made Yorkville a centre for condo development and a highly-sought after address. That demand was heightened after the completion of a beautification project begun in 2008 which widened sidewalks and installed mature trees, flower gardens, modern lighting and public art.
As well, especially for such an urban neighbourhood, Yorkville has a number of beautiful parks. Most notable is the award-winning Village of Yorkville Park, a series of unique gardens on the south side of Cumberland Street, designed both to celebrate the surrounding neighbourhood and to reflect the landscape of Canada in general. The annual ice sculpture festival held in the park is a winter highlight for many.
Yorkville is roughly bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Davenport Road to the north, Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west.
History and Social Profile
Founded in 1830 by entrepreneur Joseph Bloor, what was originally the Village of Yorkville began as a residential suburb with a major industry being Bloor’s Yorkville Brick Yards, located in what is today Ramsden Park. The Brick Yards manufactured a very famous yellow brick, the prime example of which can be seen at the historic Yorkville Firehall on Yorkville Avenue. Bloor also owned the Bloor Brewery, which was located near what today is the intersection of Bloor and Church.
In 1883, as the population of the village continued to grow, the village was annexed as part of the city of Toronto. The quiet, residential neighbourhood maintained its character through most of the 20th century, until, following its spell as the centre of Canada’s alternative culture, a wave of upscale boutiques began to see the area as the perfect place to establish a high-end business and residential district.
But the streets off the main thoroughfares of Yorkville continue to be the same quiet, tree-lined boulevards, and despite the presence of so many exclusive retailers, the neighbourhood continues to house a number of the country’s leading art galleries and antique stores, as well as popular bars and nightclubs.
- Ciao Wine Bar
- La Société
- Sassafraz Restaurant
- Pangaea Restaurant
- Dimmi Bar & Trattoria
As one of Toronto’s most celebrated neighbourhood of style and culture, Yorkville offers a unique blend of cuisines and fashionable restaurants catering to those seeking a gourmet meal. The area features fine dining from various cultures including French, Japanese, New Canadian Cuisine and upscale wine bars.
- Yonge/Bloor Interchange Subway Station
- Bay Subway Station
- Museum Subway Station
- TTC Buses
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has three subway stations in the Bloor-Yorkville area (Museum, Bay, and the Yonge/Bloor interchange), in addition to several bus routes conveniently located throughout the streets.