At Yonge and Eglinton

View along Eastbourne Avenue

Dear Readers, my husband grew up in the leafy neighbourhood of Yonge and Eglinton, an area of medium-sized family homes with huge maple trees and some stunning magnolias, like the one below. When he was growing up, children used to play in the street (and there are still a few basketball hoops around). It’s generally a quiet place. John’s mother has lived here for more than sixty years, and when she first moved in it was a place where everyone knew their neighbours. Alas, over the years things have changed – as in so many places the community is more fractured, with shopping, education and work all taking place in different directions and different  parts of town. When people talk scathingly about the ’15 minute city’ idea, it’s worth remembering that it isn’t actually that new – people used to do their shopping locally, their children would go to local schools, and they certainly wouldn’t be commuting for hours. It wasn’t perfect, but it did foster neighbourliness and a sense of belonging to ‘somewhere’. 


Because the power and telephone lines are above ground, some of the trees have been pruned around where the wires run, which can  make for some most unusual shapes (and some very brutal cutting back in some places).


You can still hear birds singing – there was a house finch singing from a shrub in my mother-in-law’s garden yesterday, and the sparrows are positively boisterous. But then you get to the corner, and this is what you see:

Below gives a view back towards Davisville Station, and shows the scale of the streets before all this ‘condominiumation’. I wouldn’t mind so much if any of these new apartments were affordable for the average Torontonian just starting out in life, but the prices are eye-watering. As with London, I wonder where all the people that are so vital to the life of a city – the health workers, the cleaners, the transport workers, the emergency service workers – are going to end up living.

So many of the local high streets were comprised of two-storey buildings with ‘mom and pop’ stores on the ground floor, and flats above. There were local restaurants and delicatessens, hairdressers and repair shops, the inevitable coffee shops (many of them local businesses rather than chains), bakers and butchers and probably candlestick makers as well. Now, many of these businesses are blighted by development plans, not just for more condos, but also because of the new Light Railway that is being built, plus a subway extension.

Still, there are a few businesses that are worth a mention and are still hanging on in spite of everything that the pandemic, the condominium building and the transport disruption.

First up is Mr Phipps. I just realised that it’s actually called Phipps Bakery, after all these years of adding the ‘Mr’. It does the best butter tarts, and it’s where we’ve ordered the birthday cake for John’s Mum (who will be 95 next week). The staff are lovely, and if you fancy a sweet treat you won’t do better, plus their challah bread is stunning. They’ve been going since 1986 and make all their own baked goods so if you’re in Toronto, give them a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Secondly, there’s the Crosstown Coffee Bar – great coffee, and the people running it are so friendly. They have a short menu of lunch sandwiches, and their apple and oatmeal muffin is delicious.

And finally, about 20 minutes walk away on Mount Pleasant there’s Domaine Mamo, a restaurant that we hadn’t visited before, but which is a small, neighbourly place which definitely deserves to succeed. If you go, do not miss the panisse (chickpea chips) – they are so delicious and more-ish, probably the best I’ve ever tasted.


1 thought on “At Yonge and Eglinton

  1. Anne

    The contrast between what was a lovely, neighbourly, suburb and the inevitably anonymous high-rise buildings is stark. I know where I would prefer to live!


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