South Hill

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South Hill may not have the same name recognition as Rosedale or Forest Hill, but it is every bit as a beautiful and exclusive as these other elite Toronto neighbourhoods. Its residents enjoy both the convenience of living in one of the most central neighbourhoods, near Toronto’s downtown bustling entertainment and business districts, and being surrounded by lush greenery. Highly regarded public and private schools, recreational opportunities, and nearby shopping districts is all a part of South Hill appealing to everyone.

South Hill is located just north of the downtown core, covering the area west of Avenue Road, south of St. Clair Avenue, east of Spadina Road, and north of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.The neighbourhood sits within the expanded boundaries of Casa Loma.

History

historyThe South Hill neighbourhood is defined by the Avenue Road Hill. This historic land formation was the former shoreline of ancient Lake Iroquois whose chilly waters receded into present day Lake Ontario some 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The escarpment that Lake Iroquois left behind was covered by a dense forest interrupted only by the ponds, creeks, and waterfalls that graced the Avenue Road Hill up until the 1900’s.The hilly terrain remains today, its natural beauty complemented by modern-day construction of bridges, roads and fine homes.

The first settlers of York, Upper Canada divided the area that would become South Hill into concessions in 1793. One large section of the area went to Peter Russell and Russell Hill Road continues to run through the centre of the neighbourhood. In the late nineteenth century South Hill’s natural beauty quickly made it a favourite with wealthy Toronto landowners. In the mid to late 1800’s, South Hill was dotted with mansions that were unsurpassed in variety and scope anywhere else in Toronto. Among those were some landmark mansions, including Senator John Macdonald’s Oaklands, the Eaton family’s Ardwold, Samuel Nordheimer’sGlenedyth, James Austin’s Spadina, William McMaster’s Rathnelly, and, most prominently, Henry Pellatt’s 98-room dream home, Casa Loma. All these elegant estates still stand imposingly in South Hill, reminding residents and visitors of its grandiose history. This affluent Toronto community is in the shadow of the famous ‘castle on the hill’, which set a high standard for the homes of wealthy residents who considered South Hill a countryside getaway during the early days of York.Beginning in 1905, the area was gradually annexed by the city of Toronto in a series of sections, and nowadays, it is one of the most expensive choices in the local real estate market.

The southeastern section of South Hill is known as Rathnelly. Rathnelly takes its name from the former Rathnelly house built in 1830 by William McMaster, which was named after his birthplace in Rathnelly, Ireland. During the celebration of Canada’s centennial on July 1, 1967, the Rathnelly neighbourhood declared itself an independent republic. To mark its independence, the “Republic of Rathnelly” elected a queen, organized a parade, formed an “air farce” of 1,000 helium balloons, and issued Republic of Rathnelly passports to everyone in the neighbourhood. The Republic of Rathnelly continues to celebrate with a bi-annual street party.

Architecture

architectureThe first homes were built here from about 1890 to 1920 to serve as residences for Toronto’s elite. Scattered among the single family homes are a number of executive townhomes that have been built in the last few decades. In keeping with the neighbourhood’s sensibilities, even the rental buildings are characterized by neat uniformity. Ornate work in brick and stone is the rule here.

South Hill homes date to between 1890 and 1920, punctuated by townhouses built since the 1980s and luxury condo high rises like the Benvenuto, a modernist accomplishment left by the star 1950s architect Peter Dickinson. Construction continues on still more luxury condos being built along Avenue Road, sheltered by the tree canopy. In addition to houses and condos, South Hill also claims luxury rental apartment buildings such as The Clarendon. Many of these buildings boast art deco-inspired features and wondrous Tudor Revival detailing, and are located on both sides of Avenue Road, on the crest of the hill overlooking the city to the south.

The first homes were built here from about 1890 to 1920.  South Hill is proud to possess some of the largest single-dwelling houses in Toronto, many of which command spectacular views of downtown Toronto and even offer a distant glimpse of Lake Ontario. This is a district of abundant greenery and broad streets, where the most fortunate residents look out their windows onto the NordheimerRavine.

Scattered among the single family homes are a number of executive townhomes that have been built in the last few decades along with luxury condos along Avenue Road.  In addition to houses and condos, South Hill also claims luxury rental apartment buildings such as The Clarendon. Many of these buildings boast art deco-inspired features and wondrous Tudor Revival detailing located on both sides of Avenue Road, on the crest of the hill overlooking the city to the south.

Shopping

Like many of Toronto’s high end neighbourhoods, shopping is kept very much on the periphery of this neighbourhood. However South Hill residents are only minutes by car or public transit from the upscale shopping districts in Forest Hill Village, Yonge and St. Clair and Yorkville.

An eclectic mix of popular restaurants, flower shops and specialty stores at the intersection of Avenue and Davenport are within walking distance of most South Hill homes.  Big box shopping such as the LoblawsSuperCentre is concentrated around Bathurst & St. Clair.

Schools

Parents from outside the proper district sometimes go to great lengths to try to get their children into Brown Public School, known for its French Immersion program; admittance is a privilege reserved for nearby residents.

Brown Jr. Public School 454 Avenue Rd. (416) 393-1560
Deer Park Jr. & Sr. Public School 23 Feerndale Avenue (416)-393-1550
Forest Hill Collegiate Institute 730 Eglinton Ave. W. (416) 393-1860
North Toronto Collegiate Institute 70 Roehampton Ave. (416) 393-9180
Upper Canada College Upper School: 200 Lonsdale Rd. (416) 488-1125
Bishop Strachan School 298 Lonsdale Rd. (416) 483-4325
The Mabin School 50 Poplar Plains Rd. (416) 964-9594
De La Salle College 131 Farnham, Ave. (416) 969-8771

Parks and Recreation

South Hill is bordered on the west side by the Nordheimer ravine, a popular destination point for fitness and nature enthusiasts. The ravine is located next to Sir Winston Churchill Park which has ten tennis courts, a children’s playground, a wading pool, and a jogging path.

Brown School and Community Centre has an indoor pool, and a gymnasium. There are two tennis courts behind the community centre.

Transportation

The South Hill neighbourhood is well served by public transportation.  The Avenue Road bus connects passengers to the Museum subway station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line and the St. Clair streetcar connects passengers to stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. The Dupont bus goes to St. George station, Dupont station and also Jane station.

South Hill motorists enjoy convenient access to major roadways including Yonge Street, Avenue Road, and Bathurst Street. These roads provide commuters with quick and easy access both into and out of the city.

 

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