We think Toronto is an amazing city for families, but don’t just take our word for it! We’re asking local moms all over the city to tell us why they love their neighbourhoods and to share their favourite spots for kids.
Sarah Robertson is a North Toronto mom with three boys ages 1, 4½ and 37 (with the maturity to match her four-year-old). Though she’s had stints in London (UK) and the west coast of Canada, all totalled Sarah has lived in North Toronto for twenty-two years.
Here’s what Sarah has to say about her neighbourhood.
Why I Love My ‘Hood
North Toronto is buzzing: from the “young and eligible” folks moving into the dozen new condos or moms fueling up at one of the many coffeehouses before shuttling kids to soccer, hockey, swimming, or the park. North Toronto has it all. Neighbourly residential blocks, top-ranked schools, a ground-breaking hospital, wicked fashion haunts for tots and parents, tons of parks, a farmers market, and the coolest police division in the T-dot.
1. Neshama Playground
After having a facelift a couple of years ago, Neshama Playground in Oriole Park is so fabulous they should charge admission. It’s a cool, modern playground that appeals to all ages, with a splash pad, water features, musical pipes, swings and a sand pit.
2. Lytton Park
This park also had a facelift and its new climbing equipment, swings, sand pit, and surfboard have all been well received! There’s also three lit outdoor tennis courts with a clubhouse and two lit lawn-bowling greens.
3. Sherwood Park
It may not be new but it appeals to every member in the family: even the four-legged ones. The water park and playground are a huge hit for the kids and well shaded from the sun. The off-leash park, safely fenced and away from the playground, is the perfect place to take Fido to stretch his legs (and fun diversion for animal-loving kiddos).
4. Toddler Time at Locke Library
It’s free! It’s fun! The Toronto Public Library offers Ready for Reading programs free of charge; all you have to do is register. And monthly, there’s Pajama Time: wear your PJs, bring your favourite stuffy or blankie and curl up for a great story right before bedtime.
5. Appletree Market
This is grassroots all the way. Teach your kids about where their meals come from to picking up something healthy for dinner. This farmers market has been growing since it started in 2008 with this original uptown location. There are now three locations. The local one in North Toronto can be found outside the Canada Post building (Broadway and Yonge St.) May through October.
6. Uncle Betty’s Diner
It’s family friendly meets comfort food at Uncle Betty’s (2590 Yonge St., at Albertus Ave.). Crayons arrive immediately, the menu is extensive, the service friendly, the made-on-site donuts are to die for. And if that’s not enough to convince you: they also serve Greg’s ice cream—and we’ve eaten there twice in one day before!
7. Sunnybrook Hospital
This is my family’s “bestest secret”, which I had to ask persmission from my four-year-old to share. (He agreed.) Not only does Sunnybrook take care of our wee ones but…it has helicopters! Ornge lands on alternate days with St. Mike’s, and on quiet days personal tours are offered—but only if you pack your manners!
On the off days that the helicopters don’t land, follow the road down to the river for tadpole-watching or carry on to the stables to fulfill the inner cowboy/girl in each of us. There’s also an off-leash park for the pooch.
8. North Toronto Memorial Community Centre
This community centre has the area’s largest sports field, as well as a hockey rink, skating rink, multipurpose gym, and an indoor and outdoor pool. Register for programs and check open swim and open skate times on the Parks, Forestry & Recreation website.
9. Toronto Police 53 Division Open House
This is the place to be each spring. The annual open house includes a barbecue, officers on horseback, motorcycles, antique police cars, a paddywagon (which you can sit in with handcuffs on) face painting and a tour of the jail cells. And it’s all free! Just don’t misbehave or they may throw away the key.
9. Mable’s Fables
One of the city’s few children’s bookstores, this place is just magical. Two storeys of carefully selected books for kids that never disappoints. They have a full schedule of storytelling and song times for different ages, language classes, and even writing classes for kids.
North Toronto is an uptown neighbourhood whose epicentre is the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton, an important commercial hub for over a century. Formerly nicknamed Young and Eligible, its population has matured somewhat, and pockets north and south of Eglinton in villages of Davisville, Chaplin Estates, Lytton Park, and Lawrence Park are some of the most family-friendly (and exclusive) pockets of the city, with many shops, restaurants, and cafes along Yonge Street.
SHERWOOD PARK (ADAPTED FROM PJ MIXER/FLICKR CC)