Easy Walk in Picturesque Toronto For You or the Whole Family

by Sheri_Oz

Want to take a break from the bustle of downtown Toronto without leaving downtown? Here is an easy walk for singles, couples and families who want to see a quiet side of the city.

Toronto offers a great many sites for all kinds of visitors and tourists. Whether you are in Toronto to visit friends or family, at a conference, a business meeting or just touring, you can take off 2-3 hours from the bustle of the big city and visit Cabbagetown.

You can get there by streetcar or subway, bike or car and when there, you can bike it or walk it.

Did you know that in a small space you can see lovely Victorian homes, a farm with animals on the original farm site, snack and explore small lanes? See how a city turns a slum into an upbeat and young new residential area for artists and musicians.

Unless otherwise mentioned, all photos on this page are my own. Some have been made into postcards and are shown at the end of the article.

How Much Will an Outing in Cabbagetown Cost You?

Since you do not have to pay any entrance fees, the cost of the visit will consist of your transportation costs and your refreshments. That's it!

Public transportation in Toronto (TTC) costs $3 per trip - you can get a transfer on the first form of transport you board (at the subway, the transfer machine is located somewhere after the ticket counter) and the transfer is shown on each subsequent bus, streetcar or subway you board for your one-way trip. Seniors and students pay less - I bought 5 tickets at a time for about $9.

Getting to Cabbagetown

I am going to show the path I followed to get to and around Cabbagetown. You don't have to do it exactly as I did and Toronto is the easiest place to get around using public transportation. You can increase the scale on the map below to see the layout of the neighborhood or reduce the scale to see where it lies with respect to other parts of Metropolitan Toronto.

I took the Bloor subway and got off at Castle Frank Station. Once out of the station, I turned right and crossed tWalking to Cabbagetown from Castle Frank Stationhe bridge. From the bridge I could see the subway tunnel suspended over the valley yet lower than street level. Here is the photo I took so you know you are going in the right direction.

At the traffic light, cross the intersection and then cross again so you are walking alongside the park to your left.

You will see one of the oldest cemeteries in Toronto and it is still active. It began operations in 1844, at a time when most of Toronto's population lived south of Queen Street. Later, in 1861, a funeral chapel, constructed in Gothic Revival style, was opened. In 1990, this chapel was recognized by the government as a National Historic Heritage Site.

You cannot enter the chapel unless you are participating in a funeral service, but it is worth walking around the grounds to see the chapel architecture and the graves and monuments recognizing some of Toronto's distinguished citizens of Anglican faith. I found it particularly moving to find monuments in honor of those who had donated their bodies to medical research, one monument for each of three institutes: University of Toronto, McMaster University and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Below left is a photograph of the chapel, and below right a photograph of one of the U of T monument.

Chapel at St James Cemetery, Toronto
Chapel at St James Cemetery, Toronto
Monument for Those Whose Donated Their Bodies to Medical Science
Monument for Those Whose Donated Thei...
Photographer: Sheri Oz

Parliament Street

When I was growing up, and even when I was in university, Parliament Street was not somewhere you would want to go. It was reputedly the skid row of Toronto - drugs, alcohol, prostitution and crime. A scary place, indeed!Pussy Willows at Florist Shop

Now it is pleasant, so close to the bustling major shopping street, Yonge, but without the noise and crowds. There are ethnic shops - but, then, there are ethnic shops throughout Toronto today, so that is not really anything too special.

In the photo on the left, you can see the first pussy willows I have seen here yet. Pussy willows are the furry buds that emerge in spring on willow trees. Seeing these gave me warm memories of finding them on the trees in my childhood.

Parliament Street View
Parliament Street View
Photographer: Sheri Oz

Tim Hortons in a Heritage Site

At the corner of Parliament and Winchester

In 1888, the Winchester Hotel was completed and provided lodgings and restaurant and bar services to the community. Today you can enjoy the ambiance, strangely enough, by sipping a coffee and having wicked donuts in the Tim Hortons that now occupies what was once the hotel's bar.

Tim Hortons in the Winchester Hotel Bar
Tim Hortons in the Winchester Hotel Bar
Photographer: Sheri Oz
Tim Hortons Donuts
Tim Hortons Donuts
Photographer: Sheri Oz

Walking into the Cabbagetown Neighborhood

Once you've had your fill of coffee and donuts, walk along Winchester Street. You will see some lovely homes. These are old Victorian style houses that were home for poverty-stricken Irish immigrants, with each house possibly housing several families. The name, Cabbagetown, supposedly originates with the fact that these residents were so poor that they planted cabbages in their yards so they would have food with which to feed their families.

After World War I, this whole area became a huge slum, the largest urban slum in North America, apparently. By 1940, the city had rezoned the area and razed a huge plot of land, building instead 5-story public housing, naming the area Regent Park. Regent Park was the first public housing project in Canada. It quickly became as run-down as the houses it replaced and was not considered a success.

Residents fought to stop the continued destruction of these historic buildings and in the 1960s, artists and professionals began purchasing and renovating the properties so that today they are in high demand.

Examples of Homes in Cabbagetown, Toronto

Hard to imagine this was once a slum.

Come wander around with me as I explored a few of the streets in this lovely quiet neighborhood.Detail of upper level of house in Cabbagetown, TorontoMy favorite home in Cabbagetown, TorontoYellow house in Cabbagetown, TorontoRow of houses in Cabbagetown, Toronto

Necropolis, Toronto

As you walk along the street, you will come very soon upon the Necropolis. Fancy sounding exotic word - all it means is cemetery. This sign says it all: 

Fence Around the Necropolis, Toronto
Fence Around the Necropolis, Toronto
Photographer: Sheri Oz

Riverdale Farm - A Real Farm Within the City

Had your fill of quaint Victorian houses and cemeteries?  Maybe you're up for a free visit to the historic Riverdale Farm. The City of Toronto bought the land from its original owners in 1856 and it took almost 40 years before a use was found for it. In 1894 a zoo was opened to the public here but by 1974 the zoo was moved to its present location outside the city.

Since 1978, the property functions as a farm and children can see farm animals and how a farm operates. Some farm produce is sold and soon the chickens should be laying eggs, which will also be sold. The buildings on the farm date back to the 19th century.

Riverdale Farm
Riverdale Farm
Photographer: Sheri Oz

You leave Riverdale Farm and walk through the park in a south direction. You will again be greeted by the lovely homes that have been preserved by historically minded citizens who did not let the government take them all down.

Regent Park

Across the road from Gerrard Street, you will see the tenements put up for public housing. While there is a lot of green space around these buildings, they are unattractive and quickly went to seed. There are now meetings with residents' organizations to try to figure out how to raise the standard of living in this area.

Regent Park
Regent Park
Photographer: Sheri Oz

This is the End of the Tour

Now you can walk leisurely to Queen Street and take the street car back to the bustle of Yonge Street.

Some Postcards of Sights in Cabbagetown

Updated: 05/16/2014, Sheri_Oz
 
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?
2

Thanks for joining me on this trip to Cabbagetown. Love to hear what you think.


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Sheri_Oz on 03/28/2015

Happy to take you on a nostalgic trip back to Toronto. Is where you live now as quaint and picturesque as Cabbagetown?

Richard Spence on 03/28/2015

Really liked you article and Loved Cabbagetown I lived there for over 30 yrs on Wellesley in one of the oldest houses in the area. It was the first severance off the Lord Simcoe estate and dates back to the 1870s.when Wellesley was called Frank Street. Now living in Hemanus in South Africa.

Sheri_Oz on 12/13/2014

Hope you enjoy it if you get to go.

Guest on 12/12/2014

It looks and sounds like a great vacation!

Sheri_Oz on 05/12/2014

Thank, Mira. Glad you liked it. I will write up some more of my adventures in Toronto in the near future.

Mira on 05/12/2014

I came back to pin a few images. Wonderful article!

Mira on 05/12/2014

Very interesting history of this part of Toronto. I highly enjoyed your tour.

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