As part of our ongoing series about neighbourhoods in Toronto we’re pleased to feature a segment on Bloor West Village and High Park which is just northwest of the Boatel.
It’s been 10 years since we left our land-based home near Bloor West Village in favour of travel and adventure aboard the Boatel. I have fond memories of this multicultural Polish and Ukrainian neighbourhood where I raised my son. Bloor West Village or “the Village” is sometimes referred to as “a small village in a big city”. It has changed in the last 10 years but it still remains a favorite place to stroll, dine and shop in Toronto.
Getting there: I would suggest that you park somewhere near Runnymede and Bloor if you are driving or get off at Runnymede Station on the Bloor West subway line. There are parking lots near the subway and beside the No Frills just east of the subway. There is also street parking but be mindful of the meters or designated parking signs if you don’t want to come back to a ticket.
What to do and see in Bloor West Village: Once you park the car I suggest you go up one side of the street all the way to Jane then cross and come back down the other side of the street. The neighbourhood has changed in the last 10 years but some of our favorite places are still and new ones are constantly springing up to make things more exciting. First thing you will notice is the culture diversity of the area with lots of Ukraine and Polish bakeries and markets.
You’ll find a great speciality stores with all kinds of kitchen gadgets and home décor. A few of my personal favorites are Jolanta Interiors (2368 Bloor West) and new to the neighbour is Binz (2314 Bloor West) sells lots of interesting kitchen gadgets and house hold storage items. Say Tea (2362 Bloor West) is local, independent and has been around for over 34 years and have an amazing collection everything related to tea (but you’ll also find some coffee items too and great gift ideas). It’s worth the trip to Say Tea just to see what they have done with their windows which are always well decorated.
One of the parts of the Village that I love so much are all the wonderful fruit markets, lovely bakeries and meat shops. I particularly like Max’s Market (2299 Bloor West) where you can pick up a prepared meal and some wonderful cheeses to take to take to High Park for a picnic. The wine store just east of Max’s has a good variety of Ontario wine’s to choose from.
If you are looking for great gluten-free pizza and pasta then the Villa Restaurant is an excellent choice. There is also the Queens Pasta Café at 2263 Bloor West that make their own pasta in house.
High Park is not only a great picnic location it is the largest park in Toronto with 161 hectares with lovely English gardens, walking trails, a mini zoo, children’s playground and home to the outdoor stage production of Shakespeare in High Park. High Park was donated to the city by founder John and Jemima Howard in 1876. John Howard was one of Toronto’s first architects, as well as a City engineer and surveyor. Colborne Lodge built by Howard in 1837 is one of the 10 historic sites operated by the city of Toronto which is open to the public to view original furnishings and artifacts including some of John Howard’s own watercolours depicting images of early Toronto. Admission to Colburn Lodge is $7 and they are open noon till 5pm and closed on Mondays. It’s also a lovely bike ride along the waterfront trail to Colborne Lodge Drive which leads directly into High Park. Sitting on one of the many benches you will quickly forget that downtown Toronto is only minutes away.
Festivals and Event in Bloor West Village
The Village also plays host to a few festivals during the summer:
Art Tour Fri, Sat, Sun May 30 – June 1, 2014
June Sidewalk Sale Thu, Fri, Sat, June 19, 20, 21, 2014
July Street Festival Saturday, July 12, 2014
Ukrainian Festival & Sidewalk Sale Fri, Sat, Sun September 12, 13, 14, 2014
Shakespeare in High Park running June 26 to August 31st.