The Beaches: Wikis


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The Beaches
The Alex Christie gazebo in Kew Gardens
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto Flag.svg Toronto
 - City Councillor Sandra Bussin
 - Federal M.P. Maria Minna
 - Provincial M.P.P. Michael Prue

Coordinates: 43°40′02″N 79°17′50″W / 43.667266°N 79.297128°W / 43.667266; -79.297128

The Beaches (also known as "The Beach") is a neighbourhood and popular tourist destination located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located on the east side of the "Old" City of Toronto. The boundaries of the neighbourhood are from Victoria Park to the east to Kingston Road on the north, Eastern Avenue to Leslie on the west, south to the lakeshore of Lake Ontario.[1] The Beaches is part of the east-central district of Toronto.



Shops along Queen Street East in the Beaches

The commercial district of Queen Street East lie at the heart of The Beaches community. It is characterized by a large number of independent speciality stores. The side streets are mostly lined with semis and large-scale Victorian, Edwardian and new-style houses. There are also low-rise apartment buildings and a few row-houses. There are several parks just a few steps south. Kingston Road is a four-lane road along the northern section of the neighbourhood travelling with residences on either side. Woodbine Avenue is a four-lane road originating from Lakeshore Boulevard at the Lake Ontario shoreline, running north. It is primarily residential.

The beach itself is a single uninterrupted stretch of sandy shoreline bounded by the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant (locally known as the water works) to the east and Woodbine park (a small peninsula in Lake Ontario) to the west. A long boardwalk runs along most of its length. Although it is continuous, there are four names which correspond each to approximately one quarter of the length of the beach (from east to west): Balmy Beach, Scarboro Beach, Kew Beach and Woodbine Beach.

"The Beach" or "The Beaches"

A 1934 postcard of Kew Beach

The name of the community is the subject of a long-standing dispute. Some long-time local residents assert that The Beach is the proper historical name for the area, whereas others are of the view that "The Beaches" is the more universally recognized neighbourhood name, particularly by non-residents. All government levels refer to the riding, or the ward in the case of the municipal government, as Beaches-East York.[2]

The dispute over the area's name reached a fever pitch in 1985, when the City of Toronto installed 14 street signs designating the neighbourhood as "The Beaches". The resulting controversy resulted in the eventual removal of the signs, although the municipal government continues to officially designate the area as "The Beaches".[1] In early 2006 the local Beaches Business Improvement Area voted to place "The Beach" on signs slated to appear on new lampposts over the summer, but local outcry caused them to rescind that decision.[3] The Beaches Business Improvement Area board subsequently held a poll (online, in person and by ballot) in April 2006 to determine whether the new street signs would be designated "The Beach" or "The Beaches", and 58% of participants selected "The Beach" as the name to appear on the signs.

In fact, the two names have been used to refer to the area since the first homes were built in the 19th century. In his book, Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto, Robert Fulford, himself a former resident, wrote: "the historical argument for 'the Beaches' as a name turns out to be at least as strong as the historical argument for 'the Beach'". "Pluralists" hold that since the area had four distinct beach areas, using the singular term is illogical. Those preferring the singular term "Beach" hold that the term has historically referred to the area as the four distinct beach areas merged.[3]

Historically, there are or were a number of institutions that used the term "Beach" in the singular, including the original Beach telephone exchange (1903 - 1920s), the Beach Hebrew Institute (1920), the Beach Theatre (1919 to the 1960s), and the Beach Streetcar (1923 - 1948). The singular form has also been adopted by the local historical society, which is called The Beach and East York Historical Society (from 1974).[4] There are also numerous examples of early local institutions that use the plural form "Beaches", such as the Beaches Library (1915), the Beaches Presbyterian Church (1926), the Beaches Branch of the Canadian Legion and a local war monument in Kew Beach erected post WWII by the "Beaches Business Men's Association".[5]

In May 2009, the City of Toronto started the installation of "The Beach" signs along Queen Street.[6]

Despite the naming controversy, most Torontonians recognize either name as referring to this particular neighbourhood, even though there are several other beaches located elsewhere in the city.


Crowds at Scarboro Beach Park in 1907, which was a popular amusement park in Toronto between 1907 and 1925. The park, located between Kew and Balmy beaches, was eventually demolished and subdivided into residential lots, and one of the new streets was named "Scarboro Beach Boulevard".

The neighbourhood is located to the East of Toronto's downtown, from Coxwell east to Victoria Park. The lakefront is divided into two sections; Woodbine Beach to the west, Kew Beach in the centre, and Balmy Beach to the east. It is these beaches which give the neighbourhood its name and defining principal characteristic. Until Lake Shore Boulevard was extended to Woodbine Avenue in the 1950s, Woodbine Beach was not a bathing beach, but rather a desolate wooded area known as The Cut. And Woodbine Avenue was the western boundary of the neighbourhood. While the official City northern boundary ends at Kingston Road, the area to the north has become known as the 'Upper Beaches'. The area bounded by Queen Street, Woodbine and Kingston Road is nicknamed the 'Beach Triangle'.

Origin of the beach sand

The beach is diminishing as the sand continuously migrates from east to west. Although sand is replaced by new sand generated by the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs to the east, this source of sand is itself diminished due to municipal efforts to reduce erosion of the bluffs in an effort to preserve homes at the crest of the bluffs.

Local news media, community websites

The Beaches community is served by several locally distributed newspapers including the Beach Metro Community News and the Beach-Riverdale Mirror.

There are several websites dedicated to the Beaches community, including The Best Of The Beach Online and Beaches Living Magazine. The Upper Beaches is served by the Woodbine and Gerrard web site.

Public transportation

Streetcars heading to and from downtown Toronto run east-west along Queen Street East (route 501) as well as along Kingston Road (routes 502 and 503) and Gerrard Street East (route 506), and a bus line runs north-south along Woodbine Avenue to Woodbine subway station (route 92). Another north-south bus line snakes its way along several side streets before making its way to the Main Street subway station (route 64). A third bus line runs north-south down Coxwell Avenue from Coxwell subway station and then turns east travelling the entire length of Kingston Road as far as Victoria Park Avenue (only from 7PM-5AM on weekday evenings, and 24hrs on weekends) (route 22A).


The boardwalk along Lake Ontario in the Beaches

The area is in the political riding of Beaches—East York, and is currently represented in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by Michael Prue of the provincial New Democratic Party. Historically, the riding has sent only NDP representatives to Queen's Park since 1975, and is considered one of the safest NDP seats in the province. Federally, the riding has voted for the Liberal party for the last few years and is currently represented by MP Maria Minna.

The area's city councillor is Sandra Bussin who is currently also The Speaker for Toronto City Council.


A notable site in the area is the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, which has been featured in several television programs, as well as in the films "Half Baked", "In the Mouth of Madness", "Four Brothers" and "Undercover Brother", and in Michael Ondaatje's novel In the Skin of a Lion. In the 1920s, the neighbourhood was the site of an amusement park, located at the end of today's Scarboro Beach Boulevard. Kew Gardens is a medium-sized park in the neighbourhood running from Queen Street to Lake Ontario, and includes a bandstand for concerts. Every July, the neighbourhood celebrates the Beaches International Jazz Festival, drawing thousands of tourists to the area.


Leuty Lifeguard Station on Kew Beach

The Beaches contains a number of historic buildings that are either designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, or listed in the City of Toronto's inventory of heritage buildings, including:

  • 18–36 Wineva Avenue, built in 1929;
  • the Bank of Toronto building, 1958 Queen Street East, now the "Lion on the Beach" bar, built in 1950;
  • the Beach Hebrew Institute, 109 Kenilworth Avenue, built in 1920;
  • Beaches Branch of the Toronto Public Library, one of four original Carnegie Libraries and identical to two others (one in Northern Toronto at Wychwood, one in Western Toronto at High Park), 2161 Queen Street East, originally built in 1916, revamped in 1980 and 2005;
  • the Dominion Bank building, at Queen and Lee streets, built in 1911;
  • the Dr. William D. Young Memorial, located in Kew Gardens, erected in 1920 and partly designed by Ivor Lewis;
  • the Fox Theatre on Queen St. at Beach Ave, built in 1914, which is Toronto's oldest operating movie theatre;
  • Glenn Gould's family home, 32 Southwood Drive;
  • The Goof - officially the Garden Gate Restaurant, a well known Canadian Chinese restaurant in the Beaches since 1952, located at 2379 Queen Street East.
  • the Kew Beach Firehall No. 17, still in use today as a working firehall, built in 1905;
  • the Kew Williams House, 30 Lee Avenue, built in 1901-1902;
  • the Leuty Lifeguard Station, foot of Leuty Avenue, built in 1920;
  • Inglenook, at 81 Waverley Road;
  • Whitelock's Grocery Store, now Whitlock's Restaurant, built between 1906-1908; and
  • George Davis House on Kingswood Road.


Roman Catholic schools include St. Johns CS and St. Denis CS

Notable people

A restaurant in the Beaches
The fire hall in the Beaches

Grew up in the neighbourhood

Current residents

Attended area high schools


  1. ^ a b "The Beaches neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. Retrieved December 1, 2008.  
  2. ^ Rush, Curtis. Is it Beaches or The Beach? Passions run deep in neighbourhood. Vote will decide how signs will read., The Toronto Star, April 5, 2006. B4.
  3. ^ a b Wickens, Stephen. Once and for all, is it Beach or Beaches? The Globe and Mail, February 4, 2006. M1.
  4. ^ Campbell, Mary. Are you a Beacher or a Beacheser? Beach Metro News, April 4, 2006. p4.
  5. ^ Spenser, Steven. Carved in Stone: The Beaches. Beach Metro News, April 4, 2006. p5.
  6. ^ "Name Finally Official As City Unveils "Beach" Signs". City News. May 22, 2009.  
  7. ^ The birth of a storyteller, February 19, 1997. CBC Archives. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  8. ^ Chapter 1: "I'll Be a Millionaire!"Career Biography, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  9. ^ Varga, Darrell. Locating the Artist in Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Fall 2003. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  10. ^ Fulford, Robert. Culture, Heritage, Recreation. Government of Canada Official Site. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  11. ^ Famous - Famous Teens: Miley Cyrus
  12. ^ Peter Robinson MA ’75, MEd ‘86, Alumni Achievements. University of Windsor. Retrieved November 29, 2007
  13. ^ Grewal, San. Class act: Meet Jamie Johnston, soon to make you swoon on Degrassi. Acting resume ensures new kid won't be getting picked on. Toronto Star. July 12, 2005.
  14. ^ Getting Reacquainted with Dan Hill. MacLean's. February 14, 2008. Retrieved February 25, 2008
  15. ^ Wente, Margaret. Just make the whole thing go away. The Globe and Mail. November 24, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  16. ^ Neil McNeil High School (Catholic Secondary School) Official Site. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  17. ^ a b c d Malvern Collegiate. Glenn Gould Foundation. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  18. ^ WIER School Profiles - M-Z. Writers in Electronic Residence. Retrieved November 30, 2007.


  • The Beach in Pictures: 1793–1932. Mary Campbell and Barbara Myrvold. 1988. Toronto Public Library Board.
  • The Boardwalk Album. Barbaranne Boyer. 2000. Boston Mills Press.
  • Historical Walking Tour of Kew Beach. Mary Campbell and Barbara Myrvold. 1995. Toronto Public Library Board.

External links


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