The Annex: Wikis

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The Annex
—  Neighbourhood  —
Larger homes typically found in the Annex north of Bloor Street
Street Map of the Annex
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto Flag.svg Toronto

The Annex is a neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The 'traditional' boundaries of the neighbourhood are north from Bloor to Dupont, west to Bathurst, and east to Avenue Road.[1] The City of Toronto defines a broader Annex neighbourhood, with official boundaries of north from Bloor Street, extending west to Christie Street, north to the CNR/CPR railway tracks, and east to Yonge Street.[2] This includes the areas of "Seaton Village" or "West Annex" to the west of Bathurst and "Yorkville" to the east of Avenue Road.

It is an affluent neighbourhood with well-educated residents and it borders the University of Toronto. The Annex has traditionally been home to many of the university's faculty, as well as housing the university's student body. The Annex is in the political riding of Trinity—Spadina, which is represented both provincially and federally by the New Democratic Party.

Contents

Character

It is mainly residential, with quiet, tree lined one-way streets lined with Victorian and Edwardian homes and mansions, most of them built between 1880 and the early 1900s. During the 1950s and 1960s, an influx of Hungarian immigrants moved into the neighbourhood after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was suppressed, and many of the businesses and properties along Bloor are owned by Hungarian-Canadian families.

The stretch of Bloor Street between St. George and Bathurst is a vibrant social and retail area, offering to Toronto a wide range of services from upscale dining to discount retailers like Honest Ed's. When someone says that they are "going to the Annex," this stretch of Bloor St. is usually what they are referring to[citation needed].

The Annex is also one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Toronto in which to rent or own a home[citation needed]. Because of its proximity to the university, it has a high rate of seasonal tenant turnover, and its residents range from university students to long-time residents. The neighbourhood's appeal sometimes results in the stretching of its borders by realtors and residents of surrounding areas. For example, Seaton Village, the architecturally-similar district between Bathurst St. and Christie St., is considered by some to be the "West Annex", although the street signs on that stretch of Bloor call it the Korean Business Area. The area between Bloor and College Street is also sometimes referred to as the "South Annex" (again, most often by realtors[citation needed]).

Although the Annex is widely regarded as being peaceful, vibrant, and highly desirable, it is also fairly dense. In fact, if the rest of the geographical Toronto (the official City of Toronto, not including suburban municipalities) was built in a similar manner to the Annex, the entire population of the sprawling GTA (approximately 6 million people[3]) would fit in an area less than one-tenth the size that it does now[4].

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Annex style house

An Annex style house on the University of Toronto campus

The Annex is home to many example of a uniquely Toronto style of house that was popular among the city's elite in the late nineteenth century. Examples of this style survive in the former upper class areas along Jarvis and Sherbourne Street and also within the University of Toronto campus. Most of these buildings are found in the Annex, and the style is thus known as the 'Annex style house.'

The original conception is attributed to E.J. Lennox, the most prominent architect in late nineteenth century Toronto. His 1887 design for the home of contractor Lewis Lukes at 37 Madison Avenue introduced a design that would be imitated and modified for the next two decades.[5] The Annex style house borrows elements from both the American Richardson Romanesque and the British Queen Anne Style.[6] Annex style houses typically feature large rounded Romanesque arches along with Queen Anne style decorative items such as turrets. The houses are most often made of brick, though some also incorporate Credit Valley Sandstone. Built for many of the city's wealthiest citizens the houses are also large. As the wealthy moved away from the neighbourhood, many of the houses were thus subdivided into apartments.

Seaton Village

Seaton Village or 'West Annex' is that part of the Annex west of Bathurst Street. Although the Koreatown shopping district is at its southern border, it is sometimes referred to as the "West Annex". While Seaton Village shares several characteristics with The Annex (notably its architecture and its popularity with University of Toronto students), it is generally quieter, more family-oriented, and with smaller, less expensive homes.

Vermont Square Park is near the centre of Seaton Village. The park has a playground, including a wading pool. St. Albans Boys and Girls club and the Bill Bolton hockey arena are also located in the park.

Clinton Street features a house almost totally covered with circular "woodcakes" cut from billiards cues.[7]

Culture

The neighbourhood has a thriving cultural scene, with the Tranzac (Toronto Australia-New Zealand) Club, the Bathurst Street Theatre, the Bloor Cinema (repertory cinema), the Jewish Community Centre, and, until recently, the now closed Poor Alex Theatre at Bloor and Brunswick. Stores are open late and some restaurants are open well past midnight.

Much of the area's retail, restaurant and entertainment venues are aimed at the university student demographic - young, educated, telecommunications-connected, lack of cooking skills, higher drinking levels, non-driving.

History

European settlement of this area began in the 1790s when surveyors laid out York Township. The area east of Brunswick Avenue became part of the village of Yorkville, while the region west of Brunswick was part of Seaton Village. In 1883, Yorkville agreed to annexation with the City of Toronto. In 1886, Simeon Janes, a developer, created a subdivision which he called the Toronto Annex.

First residents of the area included Timothy Eaton, patriarch of the Eatons Department Store, and George Gooderham, president of Gooderham & Worts Distillery. The Annex's Golden Era lasted until the 1920s, when the upper classes began to migrate northward to newer more fashionable suburbs in Forest Hill and Lawrence Park.

Those who stayed behind helped form the Annex Residents Association. This powerful lobby group saved the Annex from the proposed Spadina Expressway which would have divided the Annex in half, had it been built.

Notable persons

A group of classic "Annex Style" houses

Admiral road in the Annex is home to the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. David Suzuki lived on Bernard Avenue, two blocks away. Catherine O'Hara lived in the Annex for several years. Explorer Norman Elder owned 'The Norman Elder Museum' at 140 Bedford road. The noted urban theorist and activist Jane Jacobs lived at 69 Albany Avenue for the 37 years up to her death in April 2006.[8] Members of the rock band Sloan also reside in the neighbourhood, as does former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson and her husband John Ralston Saul.

Seaton Village is the former home of Canadian poet and children's author Dennis Lee and Oscar-winning (for Chicago) sound engineer David Lee (no relation). Canadian actress Rachel McAdams shares a house in the annex with her sister. It is the current home of novelist and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald and sociologist Barry Wellman.

Transportation

The Annex is well served by public transit, including the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway stations: Bathurst, Bay, Bloor-Yonge, Christie, Dupont, St. George and Spadina. Streetcar services operate on Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue. Bus service operates on Christie Street, Dupont Street.

References

  1. ^ "Toronto Neighbourhoods Net Boundaries". TorontoNeighbourhoods.Net. http://www.torontoneighbourhoods.net/regions/toronto_central/04_overview.html. 
  2. ^ "The Annex Neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/cns_profiles/cns95.htm. 
  3. ^ Statistics Canada Census 2006
  4. ^ Population of approx. 6 000 000 divided by average Annex population density of 8 500 people/km2 gives approx. 706 km2; current size of Greater Toronto Area is approx. 7 125km2. From Census 2001 Data and http://www.brocku.ca/maplibrary/atlas96/Toronto/TO_popdens.PDF
  5. ^ Catherine Nasmith. "Madison Avenue, a Unique Toronto Street." Built Heritage News. Issue No 111 February 4, 2008
  6. ^ "A stylish home, and Toronto's own." Jane Gadd. The Globe and Mail. Nov 7, 2003. pg. G.4
  7. ^ Bielski, Zosia. "Home on the strange: odd abodes celebrated", National Post, 12 August 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  8. ^ Globe and Mail, 2006-04-29, page M3

External links

Coordinates: 43°40′12″N 79°24′14″W / 43.670°N 79.404°W / 43.670; -79.404


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