Cabbagetown

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Cabbagetown is a vibrant close knit community located just east side of the downtown core. Cabbagetown’s name derives from the Irish immigrants who moved to the neighbourhood beginning in the late 1840s who were so poor apparently they grew cabbage in their front yards.  The quaint tree lined streets are filled with Victorian houses.

Cabbagetown was gentrified by affluent professionals beginning in the 1970s. Many residents restored the beautiful and unique Victorian homes throughout the neighbourhood.  Residents also became very involved in the community and that involvement continues today.

The residents of the neighbourhood are an eclectic mix including artists, musicians, journalists and writers to professors and doctors, many affiliated with the nearby University of Toronto.  Proximity to the financial district and downtown core has also made the area popular with other professionals such as lawyers and those in financial services.

The neighbourhood flag, a green cabbage on a white background can be seen flying usually bestowed on a home or shop owner for architectural or design excellence

History

The area today known as Cabbagetown was first known as the village of Don Vale, just outside of Toronto. It started to develop in the 1840s around the Winchester Street Bridge, which before the construction of the Prince Edward Viaduct was the main northern bridge over the Don River.  This was near the site where Castle Frank Brook flowed in the Don River. By the bridge the Don Vale Tavern and Fox’s Inn were established to cater to travellers.  In 1850 the Toronto Necropolis was established in the area as the city’s main cemetery.

Cabbagetown’s became home to many Irish immigrants around this time as they settled here after fleeing the potato famine in their homeland. To put food on the table they grew cabbages on their front lawns, which is how this district came to be known as Cabbagetown.

Cabbagetown’s working class community was particularly hard hit by the Depression of the 1930’s. Cabbagetown historian Hugh Garner, wrote that the Depression turned Cabbagetown into “the worst Anglo Saxon slum in North America”. The worst slums were concentrated south of Gerrard Street. These homes were razed in the 1950’s and replaced by the Regent Park housing development.

Cabbagetown was revitalized in the 1970’s and 1980’s by new home buyers who restored much of the neighbourhood’s fine collection of Victorian homes. Cabbagetown is now considered one of Toronto’s most gentrified and popular neighbourhoods. Its residents come from a wide variety of backgrounds, however they all share a strong sense of community spirit and pride in their neighbourhood, which is evident during such events as the Cabbagetown Fall Festival that runs for an entire week in September and features a parade, concerts, a film festival, a great dog show, community-wide yard sale and tours of the area’s fabulous homes.

Architecture

architectureThe Cabbagetown neighbourhood was once described by the New York Times as “containing the largest collection of Victorian homes in North America”.  Cabbagetown’s houses were mainly built between 1860 and 1895.

Most of these houses have been lovingly restored under the watchful eye of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association. The Association, comprised of local residents, plays a vital role in ensuring that all Cabbagetown renovations and new developments are in keeping with this historical neighbourhood.

Most of them have been lovingly restored to their original beauty with delicate iron fencing, carefully manicured lawns with fragrant gardens and whimsical architectural detailing under the watchful eye of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association. Made up of local residents, the Association helps ensure that all Cabbagetown renovations and new developments are in keeping with this historical neighbourhood.

The neighbourhood flag, a green cabbage on a white background can be seen flying usually bestowed on a home or shop owner for architectural or design excellence

Cabbagetown is one of Toronto’s most popular neighbourhoods. Its residents come from a wide variety of backgrounds; however they all share a strong sense of community spirit and pride in their neighbourhood.

Shopping
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The ‘Old Cabbagetown’ shopping district on Parliament Street features many one-of-a-kind shops, specialty food shops  and a vast array of restaurants. The Carlton Street shopping district is similar in style to Parliament Street, but on a much smaller scale.

Cabbagetown also has small retail pockets on Gerrard Street, Sherbourne Street, and Wellesley Avenue and Yorkville is within walking distance.

Parks and Recreation

recreationCabbagetown’s recreational centre is Riverdale Park, at the corner of Winchester and Sumach. This park is the home of Riverdale Farm, once the site of Toronto’s first zoo and now an actual working farm in the heart of the city used to expose city children to agricultural concepts and experiences. The Farm offers pathways through wooded areas, ponds, and butterfly-herb-vegetable-flower gardens. Cows, horses, donkey, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, and cats may be seen along the way in barns and outdoor paddocks. As well as demonstrations of daily chores including animal feedings, egg collection, cow milking, goat milking, and horse grooming, there are also many annual events, day camps, programs for toddlers & children. Riverdale Park also contains sports fields and serves as an access point to the Lower Don Recreation Trail.  There is a farmer’s market on Tuesday’s from May through October.

The Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre on Parliament Street has music, drama and dance programs for children. The Cabbagetown Youth Centre on Lancaster Avenue offers sports, and arts and crafts programs.

Allan Gardens, at the corner of Carlton & Jarvis offers outdoor gardens, greenhouses and a glassed-in botanical garden providing a tranquil setting year round in which wedding photographs are commonly staged. It is especially lovely over the Christmas holidays, when the tropical gardens feature a holiday flower show.

 Schools and Libraries

Cabbagetown’s public schools include:

Winchester Jr. & Sr. School 15 Prospect St. 416-393-1270
Sprucecourt Jr. School 70 Sprucecourt St. 416-393-1522
Lord Dufferin Jr. & Sr. School 350 Parliament St. 416-393-1760
Rose Ave. Jr. School 675 Ontario St 416-393-1260
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School 444 Sherbourne St. 416-393-5221
Jarvis Collegiate Institute 495 Jarvis St. 416-393-0140

Cabbagetown’s Public Library is located at the corner of Gerrard Street and Parliament.

Transportation

The Sherbourne bus and Parliament streetcar connect passengers to stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The Wellesley bus and Carlton Street streetcar connect commuters to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.

For motorists, the Don Valley Parkway is approximately five minutes away, while Toronto’s downtown business and entertainment districts are less than ten minutes from Cabbagetown.

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