What is East York

“East York” often refers to a large area once known as a borough, equivalent to Scarborough, North York and other municipalities making up the Toronto metropolis.

Under the name of East York, though, Streeter is concentrating on the neighbourhoods of Old East York — the heart of the original East York community — as well as its closely linked neighbour, Broadview North.

Other communities in the former borough of East York — such as Leaside, Woodbine Heights, East Danforth and others — have separate coverage under their own names.

The Old East York and North Broadview communities lie southeast of the Don Valley, in the crook of the valley where the north-south orientation of the valley’s river, roads and rail line turns east-west.

Preserving the valley

Unsurprisingly, many residents feel an attachment to the cradling valley and are active in movements to preserve the area’s natural environment, trying to fend off further building in the valley, the cutting down of trees, and polluting the river.

To the south of this area are the communities of Playter Estates and Riverdale, which include the Greektown end of Danforth Avenue, known across Toronto for its diverse stores and restaurants, not to mention its celebratory events such as the annual Taste of the Danforth street festival.

Taste of the Danforth
IT’S ON: The Taste of the Danforth street festival is set to return to the famed avenue in 2023. (Rodger Burnside/Streeter)

Strictly speaking, this stretch of the Danforth, as it’s known, is not really part of East York, which ends somewhat north of the famed avenue. But don’t insist on this to any East Yorkers. Universally, they consider the Danforth to belong, at least in part, to them — at most, being shared with Riverdalers.

Officially within East York though are other shopping and dining areas, including Pape Village on Pape Avenue and similar commercial strips on the northern stretches of Donlands and Coxwell avenues.

Also along Coxwell are several other  institutions that draw from the wider east-end area: Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General Hospital), East York Collegiate and the East York Civic Centre.

The civic centre was formerly the seat of government for the Borough of East York and still contains municipal offices.

East Yorkers may know it best now as where cultural events are held both indoors and on the extensive grounds. These include a seasonal farmers’ market and an annual summer blues festival, to name just a couple.

East York farmers' market
MARKET DAY: The weekly East York Farmers’ Market is considered one of the best in the city. (Rodger Burnside/Streeter)

Changing demographics

East York long had a reputation of being a quiet enclave of seniors, mainly of British heritage, living in small, neat houses (often known locally as “East York bungalows”).

But this has changed over the years as the area has become more diverse and the housing stock has grown with two- and three-storey homes replacing the bungalows and apartment buildings rising in some neighbourhoods. Families with children of all ages have become the norm.