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Etobicoke - Community Info

Etobicoke is a former municipality within the western part of the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. First populated by First Nations, and then settled by Europeans in the 1790s, the municipality grew into city status in the 20th century. Several independent villages and towns developed within the area of Etobicoke, including Mimico, only to be later absorbed into Etobicoke during the era of Metro Toronto. Etobicoke itself was dissolved in 1998, when it was amalgamated with other Metro Toronto municipalities into the city of Toronto. Etobicoke is bordered on the south by Lake Ontario, on the east by the Humber River, on the west by Etobicoke Creek, the city of Mississauga and Toronto Pearson International Airport (though a small portion of the airport extends into Etobicoke) and on the north by Steeles Avenue West.

Today, Etobicoke's population (350000 residents) is very diverse, with people from all over the world including South Asians, East Asians, Middle Easterners, West Indians, Africans and Europeans. Etobicoke is still primarily suburban in development, with a lower population density than central Toronto, larger main streets, shopping malls and cul-de-sac housing developments. Etobicoke has several expressways within its borders, including the Queen Elizabeth Way, Gardiner Expressway, Ontario Highway 427, Ontario Highway 401 and Ontario Highway 409. Etobicoke is connected to the rest of Toronto by 4 stations of the Bloor-Danforth subway, which has its western terminus at Kipling Avenue. Etobicoke has one post-secondary institution: Humber College, which has two campuses.

Etobicoke Neighbourhoods

Etobicoke is generally divided into three large areas that roughly correspond to the three political ridings. Each consists of neighbourhoods, mostly developments of 19th-century 'postal villages' (rural neighbourhoods), that were built at important points along the early roads and railways; especially the three former 'Lakeshore Municipalities' that separated from Etobicoke in the early 20th century and Etobicoke's central Islington community:

  • "The Lakeshore" (Etobicoke—Lakeshore); along the north shore of Lake Ontario and the 'Lake Shore Road' (now Lake Shore Boulevard West), comprises three communities that were the first in Etobicoke to urbanize and became separate municipalities during the first half of the 20th century: the Town of Mimico, the Town of New Toronto, Village of Long Branch, and related communities that were never separate from the Township of Etobicoke; namely, Alderwood (originally a suburb of New Toronto), and Humber Bay (a historic gateway community connecting to Toronto) which was originally sprawl from the east side of the Humber River that was subsequently split by the construction of Ontario's first motor vehicle 'freeway' in 1938, which cuts across the top of southern Etobicoke; (the Queen Elizabeth Way). The original remnant residential (northern) section of Humber Bay today is located north of The Queensway, east of Mimico Creek to the Humber River. The commercial, southern section of Humber Bay today retains only Christie's Biscuits bakery, as high-rise condominium towers and clustered row housing have forced out virtually all other commercial/industrial employment uses. In the late 1990s, the former McGuiness Whiskey factory was converted into a high-rise loft condominium which became the centrepiece of the Mystic Pointe development. Etobicoke's first railway opened though the area in the 1855, just north of the Lake Ontario shoreline, leading to the first period of growth as it replaced Dundas Street in Central Etobicoke as the main means of transportation and the industrial centre along its right-of-way.
  • Central Etobicoke (Etobicoke Centre); the oldest communities in Etobicoke developed along the first street, Dundas Street, in the south of this area, which crosses the width of Etobicoke on the escarpment formed by the ancient shoreline of Lake Iroquois. This area centres around the Islington community, the former administrative centre of Etobicoke and later Etobicoke's 'downtown' which is near the central 'Six Points' intersection at its western boundary. The rural Richview community developed directly to the north of Islington in the 19th century on Eglinton Ave. (formerly Richview Rd.), as did the gateway Humber Heights communities (connecting to Toronto): Westmount and Humbervale, to the east on Eglinton. Development of the until-then largely undeveloped eastern part of central Etobicoke (originally a forest reserved for the use of government mills as "The King's Mill Reserve"; 'Kingsmill'), the 'Humber Valley', was largely the work of Robert Home Smith starting about 1900 and including the communities of the Kingsway and Edenbridge. As Etobicoke developed in the post-war years, low-density residential areas filled in most of the rural areas between the old communities including Princess-Rosethorn and Eringate-Centennial-West Deane as well as the older Eatonville community to the west of Islington. Central Etobicoke includes Etobicoke's most exclusive neighbourhoods, with fine housing stock and many large treed properties. Along the East and West Mall parallel to Highway 427 exists a mix of hi-rise rentals, townhouses and post-war bungalows. Markland Wood is the farthest western community within Etobicoke/Toronto along Bloor Street west, a mixed area for housing with some hi-rise rentals.
  • Rexdale (Etobicoke North); named after a 1950s development of the area, the name Rexdale is now more frequently used to refer to all the northern 19th-century Etobicoke communities (Clairville, Highfield, Smithfield, Thistletown) which grew along two formerly private roads (now Albion Rd. and Rexdale Blvd.) constructed diagonally across farms in Northern Etobicoke as a shortcut for travellers to Peel County (especially modern Brampton). First developed as an urban area by Rex Heslop in the post-war years around the new Rexdale (the Elms) community, northern Etobicoke now has many apartment buildings as well as a large 'skyway' industrial park to the west, developed after Malton Airport (in nearby Mississauga) became Toronto's main "Pearson International" Airport, and faces many of the problems associated with such areas.

 

Character

Etobicoke has the lowest population density of the former cities and boroughs that currently make up the city of Toronto. This is mainly due to its expanses of industrial lands along the various expressways. Residential development consists primarily of single-family dwellings, although several large multi-storey high-rise condominium developments have been built in south Etobicoke near the Humber River over the past few years.

The central areas of Etobicoke are generally middle class. The central and northern areas of Etobicoke contain numerous high-density apartment complexes set in the middle of sizable, open fields and parks. The central/southern areas of Etobicoke, such as Markland Wood, The Kingsway, New Toronto, Mimico and Long Branch, consist of large green spaces, numerous parks, and main street shopping areas. Kingsway South neighbourhood has attracted many affluent individuals and families.

Etobicoke has numerous public parks, notable among them is James Gardens on the banks of the Humber River. The park includes seasonal flowers, walkways, a rock garden, streams, and waterfalls. It is a very popular site for taking wedding photographs. Also located in Etobicoke, among others, are Colonel Samuel Smith Park, situated on old asylum grounds shared with nearby Humber College and the Humber Bay Park. Etobicoke has numerous golf courses (including St. George's Golf and Country Club, ranked third best in Canada)

Transportation

Several major freeways like 427, 401, 407, 27 and QEW are routed through the area, making it ideal for automobile-based transportation. There are numerous four- and six-lane thoroughfares in Etobicoke, laid out on a grid system. Many exceptions to Toronto's gridded street matrix are found in Etobicoke. A number of overpasses and awkward intersections, such as Bloor/Kipling/Dundas West (Six-Points), have been created in an effort to reconcile the grid with these planning anomalies.

The Bloor-Danforth subway rapid-transit line has its western terminus at Kipling Avenue and Dundas Street. Islington Station is a transit nexus for bus routes into Mississauga to the west. There are many bus routes that service Etobicoke frequently. An LRT line is planned for the north end of Etobicoke along Finch Avenue to connect to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.

Etobicoke is also home to three GO stations: Mimico, Etobicoke North and Long Branch.

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