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St. James Town
—  Neighbourhood  —
St. James Town viewed from atop the Winnipeg tower
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto Flag.svg Toronto

St. James Town (sometimes spelled St. Jamestown) is a neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It lies in the northeast corner of the downtown area. The neighbourhood covers the area bounded by Sherbourne Street to the west, Bloor Street to the north, Parliament Street to the east, and Wellesley Street East to the south.

St. James Town is the largest high-rise community in Canada. It consists of 19 high-rise buildings (14 to 32 stories). These massive residential towers were built in the 1960s. Approximately 17,000 people live in the neighbourhood's 19 apartment towers, making it Canada's most densely populated community,[1] and one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods anywhere in North America.

St. James Town is one of Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods.[2]



St. James Town began to grow in the 19th century when it became a semi-suburban area home to the city's middle class. The area was rezoned in the 1950s as the nineteenth century homes were levelled, and apartment towers — inspired by Le Corbusier's Towers in the Park concept — were erected. Each tower accommodated thousands of residents surrounded by green space, but with few amenities. Each of the buildings is named after a major Canadian city.

In the late 1960s, the developers attempted to acquire land south of Wellesley, as far as Carlton Street, to expand the St. James Town development. Many residents of the area resisted, with the support of civic activist and future Mayor of Toronto John Sewell. The St. James Town expansion was cancelled, and the homes that had been demolished were replaced with several housing cooperatives.

St. James Town Library and Community Centre

St. James Town was originally designed to house young "swinging single" middle class residents, but the apartments lacked appeal and the area quickly became much poorer. Four buildings were built by the province as public housing. Today, the towers are mostly home to newly-arrived immigrant families.

In 1996, the City of Toronto launched a major initiative to improve the area, including the construction of a new Toronto Public Library branch and community centre, which opened in 2004 at the corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley.


Due to its cultural and minority demographics, St. James Town is often thought as "the world within a block". It is mostly a so-called minority community, largely filled with immigrants — especially those who arrived in the 1990s. St. James Town is 73% non-white. The largest cultural groups in this community are Filipinos (making up 21.9% of the population [3]), Black (11.2%[3]), Chinese (8%[3]), Sri Lankans (7.8% [3]). Other cultural groups include East Africans and Indians. Overall, St. James Town's population is made up of approximately 65% recent immigrants.[3]

Non-residential content

In October 2009, St. James Town contained the following businesses and institutions:

  • Rose Avenue Public School, a Toronto Board of Education school for Kindergarten through 6th grade, on Ontario Street north of St. James Avenue
  • a community centre and branch of the Toronto Public Library, near the intersection of Sherbourne Street and Wellesley Street East
  • two major grocery stores, a Food Basics at Ontario Street and Wellesley Street East and a No Frills at Sherbourne Street and Earl Street
  • three pharmacies, including a Shoppers Drug Mart box store on Sherbourne Street near Howard Street, an independent pharmacy on Howard Street at Bleecker Street, and an independent pharmacy on Ontario Street south of St. James Avenue
  • at least six convenience stores, two on Howard Street, two on Sherbourne Street, one on Ontario Street south of St. James Avenue, and one on Wellesley Street East
  • a food bank at the rear of the building on 275 Bleecker Street

See also


External links

Coordinates: 43°40′9″N 79°22′22″W / 43.66917°N 79.37278°W / 43.66917; -79.37278



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