Neighbourhood focus: The Junction

It's called the Junction because it's, well, a junction, originally of two First Nations trails and then of the Canadian.


It’s called the Junction because it’s, well, a junction, originally of two First Nations trails and then of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Ontario and Quebec lines with the Toronto, Grey and Bruce and Credit Valley lines.

Don’t confuse the Junction with the Junction Triangle, the neighbouring area east and north of the curving Dundas West. The Village of West Toronto Junction was founded in 1884 at the intersection of Dundas and Keele and merged with the nearby villages of Carlton and Davenport in 1889.

Italian, Polish, Macedonian, Croatian, Irish and Maltese immigrants moved to the area from 1900 and 1920. Now it’s one of the fastest growing communities of young families and hipsters, with galleries and condo developments and a burgeoning food scene.

Famously designated dry for decades, the Junction is now a hotbed of craft beer activity. Here’s more info on where to eat, drink and shop in this rapidly developing neighbourhood.

PARAMETERS (as defined by the city of Toronto):

From Runnymede in the west to the train tracks on the east, and from Annette and Humberside in the south to roughly Glen Scarlett in the north.

ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES:

POPULATION (as of most recent 2011 census): 14,027

PRIVATE HOUSEHOLDS BY LIVING ARRANGEMENT:

LANGUAGES SPOKEN AT HOME:

ECONOMIC PROFILE:

Average house price

Average rents

FUN HISTORICAL FACTS:

The Heinzman piano company, founded in 1866, opened its first factory in the Junction. The first Queen’s Plate horse race ran at the Junction’s Carleton racetrack.

As the Junction becomes an increasingly popular home base for young professionals and families in Toronto, its culinary scene is growing in step, boasting plenty of restaurants and bars worth visiting.

If you’re jonesing for brunch on the weekend, head to Farmhouse Tavern (1627 Dupont, 416-561-9114). For something lighter, head to Full Stop (2948 Dundas West) and indulge in a latte and a peanut-butter-banana breakfast cookie.

Cut the Cheese (2901 Dundas West, 416-901-7166) does quick and cheesy lunches like grilled cheese sandwiches or mac and cheese, topped off with wacky house ketchup flavours like root beer or dill pickle. (Be sure to try the mac with butternut squash and roasted tomato.) Healthy eaters should pull up one of the mismatched chairs at The Beet (2945 Dundas West, 416-916-2368), a cafe and lunch spot that does juices, smoothies, hearty salads and spicy wraps with local, organic ingredients.

If your sweet tooth demands satisfaction, Bunner’s (3054 Dundas West, 647-352-2975) is a gluten-free bakery with something for everyone – their cinnamon buns are the stuff of legend. If you’re down with dairy, load up on truffles and quirky ice cream flavours (Quebec blue cheese, anyone?) at Delight Chocolate (3040 Dundas West, 416-760-9995).

Dinner destinations are where this neighbourhood really shines. A must-stop for seafood lovers is Honest Weight (2766 Dundas West, 416-604-9992), where you can pick up fresh, responsibly sourced catches from around the world to cook at home or get the kitchen to pan-fry yours to order.

The Playa Cabana family of restaurants serves up laid-back Mexicana – and lots of tequila – at Cantina (2883 Dundas West, 647-352-7767). If beer’s more your thing, sample the brews at Indie Ale House (2876 Dundas West, 416-760-9691) and sink your teeth into some IPA mac and cheese or one heck of a burger.

Want to dim the lights for date night? Stop by The Passenger (2968 Dundas West, 416-762-0777), a cozy little spot with a menu of Prohibition-inspired cocktails and eats like charcuterie boards, Arctic char and harissa-spiced chicken (they also do brunch).

Classic Italian is represented at long-running neighbourhood standby Vesuvio (3010 Dundas West, 416-763-4191), while the Annette Food Market (240 Annette, 647-792-6963) does a more modernized take, including Italian small plates and Neapolitan-style pizza. For Northern Indian and Mughlai eats, head to Curry Twist (3034 Dundas West, 416-769-5460).

To cap off your evening, grab a pint at Hole in the Wall (2867 Dundas West, 647-350-3564), take in a show and play some pinball at 3030 (3030 Dundas West, 416-769-5736) or crush some board games or a few rounds of Sega Genesis at See-Scape (2840 Dundas West, 647-853-9892).

The Junction hasn’t yet surrendered to full-on gentrification. Yes, a few condos are going up, but the area still has its low-rise, architecturally diverse buildings and indie spirit. This is a neighbourhood that can keep you well dressed, well furnished and well read.

Let’s start with well furnished. This is the place to go for cool custom furniture. There’s Cornerstone Home Interiors (2886 Dundas West, 416-767-8170) and Funkyture (2912 Dundas West, 647-779-2212) Forever Interiors (2903 Dundas West, 416-291-2001), which makes furniture from wood reclaimed from barns and churches Eclectic Revival (3075 Dundas West, 416-766-5500) for your vintage lighting needs and Mjolk (2959 Dundas West, 416-551-9853, ), your source for minimalist Scandinavian and Japanese chic. We considered the copper kettle but wondered if it was too good for us.

Now you need something to wear for your housewarming. We fell in love with a pair of Outclass Attire shoes at men’s store Gerhard Supply (2949 Dundas West, 416-797-1290) and were told the designer does make smaller sizes. Sold! For retro dresses and summer-perfect playsuits and swimwear there’s the Black Daffodil (3097 Dundas West, 647-726-9400). Your Big Sister’s Closet (3126 Dundas West, 647-351-7587) carries plus-size clothing, and there’s nary a paisley or tacky rhinestone to be seen. Grab the off-the-shoulder ruffle dress. You’ll wear it all season. Top it off with a pair of vintage glasses from Opticianado (2919 Dundas West, 416-604-2020).

Atmosphere is a selling point in the Junction, and there’s tons of it at Pandemonium Records (2920 Dundas West, 416-769-5257), which has enough vinyl – and books – to create whatever mood you want. This is a store made for browsing, so plan on spending some time flipping through the used record collection and that little pile of Enid Blyton books on the floor.

The Junction is also the home of international success story IZ Adaptive Clothing (2955 Dundas West, 416-860-0783), which has designer attire for people using wheelchairs. This is where you can get pants that don’t bunch or sit too low, and coats and capes that don’t bunch up in the back.

And, yes, there’s a Dollarama (2890 Dundas West, 416-769-7516), which is its own retail experience.

Leave your opinion for the editor...We read everything!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *