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Riverdale, Toronto


Riverdale, Toronto

The corner of Logan and Wolfrey, looking southwest.
The corner of Logan and Wolfrey, looking southwest.
Location of Riverdale
Riverdale is located in Toronto
Location within Toronto
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto
View of downtown from Withrow Park.

Riverdale is a large neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is bounded by the Don River Valley to the west, Danforth Avenue and Greektown to the north, Jones Avenue, the CN/GO tracks, Leslieville to the east, and Lake Shore Boulevard to the south.

The popular teen drama shows The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, and Degrassi: The Next Generation are named after the South Riverdale street of the same name.


  • Character and culture 1
  • Schools 2
  • Institutions 3
  • Parks and recreation 4
  • Neighbourhoods within Riverdale 5
    • South Riverdale 5.1
      • Riverside 5.1.1
      • East Chinatown 5.1.2
      • Studio District 5.1.3
    • Blake-Jones 5.2
    • The Pocket 5.3
    • Other 5.4
  • Politics 6
    • Provincial politics 6.1
    • Federal politics 6.2
  • Notable roads 7
  • Notable people 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10

Character and culture

Riverdale is a thriving residential neighbourhood in Toronto, located just east of the downtown core. Since its amendment to the City of Toronto in 1884, it has developed a stature as a neighbourhood of independent arts, with several independent galleries located along Queen Street East. The residential landscape within Riverdale is made up primarily of Victorian and Edwardian style homes, constructed in the 1800s as boarding rooms for the working-class. Many of the residences have since been redeveloped into homes for young families with homes redesigned to fit the tree-lined streetscape. In recent times, local housing values have increased significantly. With this a new generation of young professionals and their families have moved into the area, furthering already widespread gentrification.

Riverdale's character is composed primarily from its multiculturalism; with several cultural neighbourhoods along its major paths. Danforth Avenue (commonly referred to as "The Danforth" in Greek Town) has a high concentration of Greek restaurants while Gerrard Street East and parts of Broadview Avenue are home to a variety of Asian shops and restaurants (referred to as East Chinatown). South of Queen Street East are several large corporate film studios extending down to the waterfront. Riverdale is home to the Gerrard Square Mall; which features a variety of retail, restaurant, and small shops. The neighbourhood's character is also defined by the CN Railway, which separates the area into two districts, North Riverdale (north of the tracks) which is primarily residential (for the exception of Gerrard Square Mall and The Danforth and South Riverdale (also known as the Riverside District) (south to Lake Shore). Riverdale is also home to three large recreational parks; Riverdale Park, adjacent to the Don River, Withrow Park, in the North Riverdale, and Jimmie Simpson Park, in the Riverside District. These three parks serve as great landmarks within the neighbourhood that many residents use for various activities, from swimming in outdoor pools to tobogganing down the steep hills in Riverdale Park during the wintertime. These are the most common outdoor spaces within the area and according to Toronto's Official Plan, are to be preserved as an area of green space in the years to come.


City Adult Learning Centre (formerly Parkview Secondary School)
  • Riverdale Collegiate Institute is the neighbourhood's local high-school.
  • City Adult Learning Centre is one of five Toronto District School Board adult learning centres serving the area. The building was built in 1964 as Parkway Vocational School as a vocational school, which traces back to Jarvis Junior Vocational School as an extension to Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Parkway was later renamed to Parkview Secondary School and was closed in 1983 due to low enrolment.
  • Earl Grey Senior Public School is the area's local middle school, grade 7-8.
  • Quest Alternative School[1] is the area's original alternative middle school, and one of the first in Toronto. Consisting of 68 students and 4 staff, Quest celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008. The school's motto is: "Structure to learn and freedom to grow", and its focus is on student-centered learning and diverse curriculum.
  • East Alternative School of Toronto[2] is another local alternative middle school, specializing in social justice and visual arts. It also has 68 students and accepts students from all over Toronto.
  • Withrow Avenue Junior Public School,[3] Jackman Avenue Junior Public School,[4] Frankland Community School,[5] are the three local junior public schools in North Riverdale.
  • Holy Name Catholic School is overseen and owned by the Toronto Catholic District School Board and teaches grades K - 8. Holy Name was founded in 1913 by the Sisters of St. Joseph with four classrooms. Eight more classrooms were added in 1918. In 1931, two more portables were installed and 8 room addition was built in 1949 totalling to 20 classrooms. To service the ever-increasing population an annex was built in 1957 and extended in 1961 to provide a total of 31 classrooms but it was joined to the main building providing a library, a gymnasium and several more classrooms in 1968. Holy Name is a feeder school for graduates who would later attend St. Patrick, Neil McNeil and Notre Dame high schools.
  • Montcrest School is located on Montcrest Boulevard and several houses on Broadview Avenue just north of Riverdale Park. Montcrest School has classes from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, Montcrest school is also an independent school who has been in operation since 1961,[6] previously operating under the name The January School.


Riverdale is home to Bridgepoint Health (formerly Riverdale Hospital), at the corner of Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street East.

Parks and recreation

There are three medium to large sized parks in Riverdale. At the west edge between Broadview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway just north of Bridgepoint Health is Riverdale Park. This park features a running track, three baseball diamonds, a skating rink, a public swimming pool and tennis courts. Just to the east of Riverdale Park is Withrow Park which has a large off-leash dog area, an ice rink, two baseball diamonds, play structures, and a soccer field. In South Riverdale is Jimmy Simpson Park which contains tennis courts and a community centre. In the southwest corner just north of Queen St. East on Broadview Avenue is the Royal Canadian Curling Club. The curling club features 6 sheets and hosts leagues for about 500 members. The last park in Riverdale located further east along Blake Street is Kempton Howard Park (formerly East View Park) and was renamed in 2007 in honour of a youth worker who was killed in 2003 in the Blake/Boultbee community in which he lived and worked.

Neighbourhoods within Riverdale

Aerial View of Riverdale, 1942

Riverdale is often said to refer to the stretch of Toronto east of the Don Valley Parkway and west of Jones, between Danforth Avenue (north) and Gerrard Street (south). However, this area is usually referred to as North Riverdale, and Riverdale itself covers a much wider area and includes many smaller communities, usually centred around a 'high street' or commercial area.

South Riverdale

South Riverdale, as its name suggests, is the southern half of the Riverdale neighbourhood. Its approximate boundaries are: the Don Valley Parkway to the west, Jones Ave. to the east, Gerrard Street East to the north, and Lake Shore Boulevard to the south.

South Riverdale comprises many smaller neighbourhoods:


Riverside, looking west along Queen Street East towards Broadview Avenue and the New Broadview House Hotel

Riverside, formerly known as the Queen Broadview Village is a small neighbourhood located within the larger neighbourhood of South Riverdale. Definite boundaries according to the Riverside Business Improvement Area Plan's definitions the borders are the Don River to the west, Gerrard St. East to the north, Empire Avenue to the east and Eastern Ave. to the south.

Riverside is a mixed income and largely multicultural neighbourhood currently experiencing a trend of gentrification along Queen St. East and Broadview Ave. While it is a small neighbourhood it is home to several places of note such as the former Don Destructor, Toronto's only garbage incinerator, and Don Mount Court, a social housing project which was recently redeveloped as a mixed social housing and market value community. The market value portion is being sold under the name Rivertowne.

Riverside is known for its presences of many historic buildings and rich cultural heritage. Unquestionably, the biggest landmark in the neighbourhood is the New Broadview House Hotel, a romanesque hotel constructed in 1893 that was the tallest structure in South Riverdale for several decades. Other major landmarks include the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Broadview Lofts, and The Opera House. Riverside was also the location of Sunlight Park, Toronto's first base ball park.

The area was once home to a large young population which is evident in the cluster of schools just east of Broadview Ave. Dundas Jr. Public School is the resident school for children in kindergarten through to fifth grade, after which they are transferred over to Queen Alexandra Sr. Public School which sees students through to eighth grade. It is also home First Nations School of Toronto, a cultural survival school that places heavy emphasis on aboriginal values and culture, and the current location of SEED Alternative Secondary School, Canada's first public alternative school.

Riverside is rapidly emerging as the district for independent design, furniture, and food retailers, as well as restaurants.

East Chinatown

Toronto's second largest 'china town', also known as East Chinatown is found at Broadview & Gerrard.

East Chinatown
East Chinatown

Studio District

The southern part of South Riverdale, just north of the Port Lands, is what's called the Studio District. Industrial warehouses along Lakeshore Avenue house production studios and many people working in film and television live in the old Victorians found along the area's side streets. Carlaw and Queen has become an arts hub, with many artists choosing to run their studios from the various work-live lofts.


Blake-Jones is a section of tree-lined streets with residences built from the 1870s to 1930s. The neighbourhood extends along Jones Avenue commencing at the cemetery south of Strathcona and extending down to Hunter.[7] It is bordered by Danforth Avenue to the north, Pape Avenue to the west, Greenwood Avenue to the east and the CN Railway tracks just south of Riverdale/Boultbee Avenue to the south. Houses along Blake Street are more affordable in this neighbourhood than in many areas of the city because most of the homes are semi-detached. There are also a significant amount of residents within public housing, residing in apartment and townhouse complex of Blake/Boultbee, owned by Toronto Community Housing. With a 33.3% unemployment rate in youth aged 15–19 (City of Toronto, 2006), the Blake-Jones corridor of Riverdale has seen an increase in crime within recent years.

There are three local elementary schools zoned to the area; Blake Street (which also houses East end Alternative), Earl Grey, and Pape Avenue. The high school that is zoned to the area is Riverdale Collegiate Institute. There is also an alternative high school, Eastern Commerce, in the Donlands/Danforth area.

The neighbourhood is served by the Pape, Donlands, and Greenwood subway stations and the 72 Pape and 83 Jones bus routes and is also home to the Greenwood Subway Yard, a landmark within the area.

The Pocket

Located within Blake-Jones is an area residents refer to as The Pocket. Over time there have been some differences on the exact definition of the area, but currently the Pocket is understood to be "accessible only from the west along Jones Avenue".[8][9] This would indicate that the area would be bordered by Chatham Street at the north (which itself is not accessible from Jones), and on the southern end by Boultbee Ave. The Eastern side is bordered by the TTC Greenwood yard. As of January 2013 the Pocket Community Association declared they served an area that is "bounded on the west by Jones Ave, on the east by Greenwood Avenue, on the north by Danforth Ave, and on the south by the railroad tracks abutting Boultbee Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[10]

The community is served by the Pocket Community Association, more information can be found at

The name "The Pocket" was created by area residents during a planning session attended by Susan McMurray, also an editor of a newsletter for the area. The name has stuck in part because of the "village feel" of the community, and has become well used by residents and realtors in the area.[11] The Pocket has been experiencing a gentrification similar of that to the most of Riverdale and other neighbourhoods within Toronto. For The Pocket, this started in the 1990s. The neighbourhood is listed as one of the ten hottest areas in Toronto Life and is described as "coveted" by the Globe and Mail indicating that buyers will pay a premium to live in the community.[11][12] The Pocket has an above average number of people from the Muslim and Greek Orthodox communities living in the area.

The area has benefitted from a strong group of volunteers who have done much to make the area safer and prettier.[11] Such projects as cleaning up and renaming Ben Kerr Lane, an annual street party on Dawson Avenue, street sales, organized pot lucks, not to mention a great number of improvements to Phin Park. Phin Park has had a number of mature trees planted along its central lighted walkway, an outdoor ice rink created every winter, the placement of large boulders removed during street work, and the building of a gazebo next to the playground for parents to cool off while their children play. Throughout the year there are events at the park organized and paid for by the community including monthly movie nights and an excellent fireworks show on Victoria Day.[9] Another beautification project included building a small orchard and community garden area north of the Greenwood TTC yard.[11]


Some Riverdale residents differentiate between "upper" and "lower" Riverdale. "Upper Riverdale" is characterized as the part of the neighbourhood north of Riverdale Ave., and "Lower Riverdale" is the area south of Riverdale Ave. In terms of the quality of the housing supply, homes built in "upper Riverdale" are more likely to be renovated, but "Lower Riverdale" contains more original and classic designs of the late 19th century. There are a number of remarkable century-old homes built on Simpson and Langley Avenues, the latter street named after Toronto's well-known early 20th century architect, and the former featuring the oldest Victorian houses in Riverdale. Of note, Simpson Avenue is home to the original six houses of Riverdale; located at the west end of the street and locally known as the 'Six Sisters.' The area bounded by Dundas St. East in the south, Jones Ave. to the east, the railway tracks to the north, and Carlaw Ave. to the west is also referred to by local residents as "Badgerow," after a residential street that runs through the centre of that area. This pocket includes the legendary Maple Leaf Tavern, as well as a Sikh temple, Turkish cultural centre and Jewish cemetery, in addition to the Gerrard Square shopping mall.


Provincial politics

main article Riverdale (electoral district)

Riverdale is in the provincial riding of Toronto—Danforth, and is currently represented in the Ontario provincial parliament by Peter Tabuns, deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party. Municipally, Riverdale is in Toronto Ward 30, represented by Toronto city councillor Paula Fletcher. Federally it is represented by Craig Scott of the NDP.

Provincially, the riding was known as Riverdale from the 1914 Ontario provincial election until the 1999 Ontario provincial election when the number of provincial ridings were reduced and given the same borders and names as federal ridings, in this case Broadview—Greenwood and, more recently, Toronto—Danforth. In all its guises it has elected a New Democrat in every election since 1963.

In 1964 a by-election set the model for future NDP campaigns. Under the campaign management of Gerald Caplan, Stephen Lewis, and Marjorie Pinney the NDP canvassed every household three times, identified all their supporters, and then they got out the vote. This strategy is also known as PIG, Persuade, Identify, Get out the vote. Lawyer James Renwick won with 7,287 votes compared to 5,774 votes for the Conservatives and 5,771 votes for the Liberals.

Federal politics

Federally the riding, known for many years as Broadview and then Broadview—Greenwood, has been represented by New Democrats from 1962 (the first federal election after the party was formed) until 1988, when Liberal Dennis Mills won the seat. Mills held the riding until 2004, when NDP leader Jack Layton won the seat.

Notable roads

Notable people

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Withrow Avenue Junior Public School, Withrow Avenue Junior Public School. "Withrow Avenue Junior Public School". Withrow Avenue Junior Public School. Withrow Avenue Junior Public School. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  4. ^ Jackman Avenue Junior Public School, Jackman Avenue Junior Public School. "Jackman Avenue Junior Public School". Jackman Avenue Junior Public School. Jackman Avenue Junior Public School. 
  5. ^ Frankland Community School, Frankland Community School. "Frankland Community School". 14/09/11. 
  6. ^ "Montcrest School History". Montcrest School. 
  7. ^ The Globe and Mail, Friday, August 22, 2008, page G16
  8. ^ The Globe and Mail, November 17th 2006,
  9. ^ a b The Toronto Star, Saturday, March 14th 2009,
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d Toronto Life, Real Estate 2012, page 30
  12. ^ The Globe and Mail, August 25th, 2011:
  13. ^ Friends and Family of Bashir Makhtal, Biography of Bashir Makhtal
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