Where is Riverside?
The Riverside neighbourhood spans 10 vibrant tree-lined blocks along Toronto’s historic Queen St. East, from the Don Valley Parkway to the west and the world famous Degrassi Street to the east. Riverside is conveniently located between Corktown and Leslieville, only 2.5 km from Toronto’s downtown core. It’s Toronto’s authentic urban neighbourhood and easily accessible via streetcar, bike, car or by foot.
Why the name “Riverside”?
Riverside District runs alongside the Don River – an icon in Toronto’s landscape and history. As you wander the streets of Riverside, note the curving blue brick water line in the sidewalks and the waves in the Riverside logo and streetscaping.
History of the Riverside Neighbourhood
The residential landscape within the Riverside neighbourhood is comprised of primarily Victorian and Edwardian style homes constructed in the 1800s. These homes were previously used as boarding rooms for the working-class but have since been redeveloped into homes for young families and redesigned to suit the tree-lined streetscape. Riverside real estate values have increased dramatically over recent years and it has become a trendy and sought after residential district of upwards of $500,000 for a single family home.
Read the ‘Uncovering Riverside’ blog series for more about the history of Riverside:
#1 Uncovering the History of Riverside: An Introduction – The story starts with how, when and why Riverside got its name
#2 Uncovering the Sport and Game of Riverside – Learn about the early days of sport and game in Riverside
#3 Uncovering the Holiday Season in Riverside Past & Present – Learn about early holiday traditions, personalities, and life in Riverside
#4 Uncovering Riverside: A Curler’s Valentine – Read about Riverside’s long-time love affair with curling and links to personalities of the past
#5 Uncovering Easter in Historic Riverside – Read about Easter in Riverside past and more baseball links
Stay tuned for more blogs on the history of Riverside! The series is a partnership with local historian Barry Slater of the Royal Canadian Curling Club.
Growth of Riverside
Industries declined in the second half of the 20th century and during the 1980s and early 1990s the area experienced significant economic difficulties. Over the last 15 years, Riverside has undergone significant revitalization and gentrification. Many of the buildings and residences have preserved the historic architecture of the building and modernized the interiors to reflect the diversity and pay homage to the fusion of old and new in the neighbourhood.
One of the main draws of Riverside remains its proximity to downtown. With The Toronto Eaton Centre being only 2.5 km away, the Riverside neighbourhood remains one of the few well-preserved residential districts within a short commute to the downtown core. The area is seeing increased popularity among young professionals, and the ratio of lofts to single family homes continues to grow each year.
New Broadview Hotel
The Romanesque-style New Broadview Hotel was built in 1893 and for almost ten years, rumors of a buyout and transformation into a Drake or Gladstone boutique hotel and bar or celebrity chef restaurant have been circulating. On May 13, 2014, Streetcar Developments announced its purchase of the Hotel, and their intention is to renovate the building into a boutique hotel with a ground floor restaurant and a rooftop bar.
Historic Postal Station ‘G’
The fine Neo-Classical Building constructed of sandstone is a landmark in Riverside since its opening in 1913 as Postal Station ‘G’. Designed by E.J. Lennox, it remained the Postal Station ‘G’ until 1975 when it became the Ralph Thornton Community Center and the Queen and Saulter Branch of the Toronto Library.
In 1995 the Ralph Thornton Centre restored the clock, which had been stuck at a standstill since 1979. The flatbed turret clock with pinwheel escarpment was designed by Joyce and Co. of Whitchurch, Shropshire and built by Smiths of Surrey, U.K in 1913. The clock was restored in 1995 by Lloyd Hovey of Toronto through the generosity of the Tennison Family in the memory of Mr. Arthur Tennison, the head Stone Mason in the construction of this building.
Art in Riverside
Originally called the Queen Street Viaduct, before Eldon Garnet (among others) contributed their artistry to the bridge, it was just a bland, unnoticed passageway to the East end. After Garnet won the contest to decorate the Riverside Bridge, it soon began gaining recognition as it became an iconic landmark, and even began to pop up on t-shirts and in murals. This artwork sparked a revitalization of the Riverside neighbourhood and unified the people within the community. Most recently, on June 5th of 2015, the Bridge was illuminated through the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project and lit up for the public for the first time. “It was an opportunity to celebrate the structure that had long linked the downtown core with the east end”, said former Riverside BIA Executive Director, Perry Lupyrypa, who championed the project over the last three years with Riverside business and community sponsors and partners.
Sports Heritage Mural (Munro St.)
In the mural, created by Monica Wickeler, one can see Toronto’s first Baseball diamond in Riverside – Sunlight Park, the skating that used to take place on the Don River, the former location of Toronto’s Cycling Club, and the long curling history in the area.
Sports Legacy Mural 2015 (Munro St.)
In continuation of the Sports Heritage mural, the Riverside Sports Legacy mural (also by Monica Wickeler) is an exciting new project for Riverside launched in July 2015 in the spirit of Toronto’s Pan Am Games. Through using a stencil technique and Pan Am colours, tribute was paid to the Games through the contemporary sports illustrated – parapan sports, for example.
“Echo” in Joel Weeks Park
Born in British Columbia, raised in Ontario, Mary Anne Barkhouse has been a professional artist since the 1990s. After her proposal won a contest by the City of Toronto’s Public Art Office, she enlisted in Michael Belmore to aid her with the construction. The piece consists of three different sculptures in different corners of Joel Weeks Park. They are of a beaver, a fox, and four squirrels worshiping an acorn (see above). The piece is said to represent the flora and fauna of the neighbourhood. The artist also has some very interesting reasoning behind her choice of materials (bronze and granite), which is something you can learn more about on the Art History Walk!