Disagreement about whether to call certain areas North Toronto or Midtown—or something completely different
When Davisville resident Nandy Heule moved into the neighbourhood around six years ago, she was surprised to hear her neighbours refer to the area as “North Toronto.”
“I thought it made no sense to talk about North Toronto when we were obviously nowhere close to what any reasonable person would now consider to be ‘north’ of Toronto,” she says.
The old city of North Toronto’s boundaries stretched from St. Clair Avenue in the south to Yonge Boulevard in the north, encompassing neighbourhoods such as Yonge-Eglinton, Lawrence Park, Bedford Park, and Davisville.
But Heule believes the modern area has left these historical roots behind and now comes under that catch-all phrase of “Midtown” — a section of Toronto that can refer to anywhere from Bloor Street to York Mills Road.
“I actually think there’s mass confusion about North Toronto and what part of the city is included,” Heule says.
Others are more definite about they live though.
Jeremy Gawen, a Moore Park Residents Association board member, says it’s easy for locals to know when they’re in his neighbourhood. Moore Park has natural boundaries: Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the north, Moore Park Ravine to the east, the CP Rail tracks to the south, and Avoca Ravine to the west.
However, when asked which larger part of Toronto he lives in, Gawen usually says close to downtown or midtown, even though he says “Midtown” generally seems to refer to Yonge and Eglinton and Moore Park usually fits into a larger area which includes Rosedale and Bennington Heights.
“It’s difficult to come up with anything other than ‘Midtown,’” he says with a chuckle. “I suppose we could be ‘mid-Toronto’ or something like that, but that could cover a swathe that goes a long way.”
Realtor Linda Chu says that from a Toronto real estate perspective, Midtown is defined as north of Davenport Road and Belmont Street and south of Eglinton Avenue, though she admits the boundaries can be fuzzy at times.
For instance, Yorkville’s historic boundaries were between Bloor Street and Davenport Road, but the modern definition has stretched north and south because it’s “a very desirable area to live in,” she says.
However, Chu doesn’t think the neighbourhoods that make up the real estate industry’s definition of Midtown — including Rosedale, Moore Park, and Summerhill — have the same all-encompassing identity that North Toronto does.
“Midtown could include Rosedale, but we don’t call it that,” she says. “Rosedale is Rosedale. Moore Park is Moore Park. Midtown is the area around the St. Clair-Yonge Street corridor.”
The constantly shifting definition of Midtown isn’t just confined to the area’s northern boundaries. Just as neighbourhoods such as Deer Park, Davisville Village and Moore Park straddle the line between what is considered North Toronto and Midtown, southern neighbourhoods such as Yorkville and the Annex have been referred to as both “Midtown” and “Downtown.”
Briar De Lange, president of the Bloor-Yorkville BIA, which defines “Yorkville” as stretching from two blocks south of Bloor Street to Davenport Road, says she considers Yorkville part of “mid-Toronto.”
“Downtown really has defined itself as being around the financial district,” she says. “Overall, Yorkville is very centrally located … a very convenient place to carry out business, and to live.”
Ward 22 Councillor Josh Matlow says his ward, which stretches from Eglinton Avenue in the north to the CP Rail tracks in the south, and from Spadina Road in the west to Bayview Heights Drive in the east, has been commonly referred to as Midtown since the city’s 1998 amalgamation, but notes that many people use the terms “Midtown” and “North Toronto” interchangeably.
“It often depends on what area of the ward you live in,” he says. “If you live closer to Casa Loma you may say ‘midtown,’ and you live near Yonge and Eglinton, you may still call it ,North Toronto.’”
In the end, he says, where North Toronto ends and Midtown begins doesn’t matter.
“I think what residents of both midtown and North Toronto love about our community is that it’s the perfect balance between being downtown enough to have everything accessible to you, yet far enough away that it feels like you’re leaving the hustle and bustle of downtown to come home,” Matlow says. “Certainly it’s one of the reasons that I enjoy living there.”
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