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Amy Dickson moved into the Junction with her parents when she was in university 16 years ago and has seen the neighbourhood gentrify first-hand. She is a PR professional with a 2½-year-old daughter. Tweet Amy @Amy_Clark.
Here’s what Amy has to say about her neighbourhood:
Why I Love My ‘Hood
The Junction really has everything a family in the city could want from a neighbourhood: endless resources and activities for kids, proximity to the TTC, a rich and diverse musical and artistic landscape, and a diverse foodie scene. The Junction is an amazing place to raise kids, and here are some of the favourite places my family and I have discovered here.
1. Vine Avenue Playground
The local kids call Vine Avenue Playground the “train park,” as the trains run by it. There’s nothing more exciting for a kid then getting to see trains up close. The park is well shaded with two different sections: one for little kids and one for big kids. The little kids’ section even has a wading pool that’s on all summer. This park is always a huge hit with my little one.
2. Annette Community Recreation Centre
The Annette Community Recreation Centre has a swimming pool, weight room, dance studio, and a gym. This fabulous community centre has a wide range of programs and is bordered by a couple of local schools with playgrounds.
3. The Beet
The Beet is a local, organic restaurant with lots of vegan options. It provides the neighbourhood with many healthy dining options while being great for the environment. Even its take out containers are biodegradable!
The Beet is located in an old bank with a lovely patio, which gives it a great atmosphere, and has the healthiest kids menu in the neighbourhood.
The 3030 eatery has something for everyone: a cool vibe, great food, live music, comfy couches, a retro TV and VCR, and lots of space for kids and strollers. It also has pinball machines which are lots of fun for adults and kids alike!
5. Indie Alehouse
The Indie Alehouse is the place to be for local parents on a Friday night. It’s a micro-brewery with delicious beer and food, and the staff are great with kids (they all know my little one by name). They have colouring books and a yummy kids menu too.
6. George Bell Arena
The George Bell Arena is technically outside the Junction border, but it’s close enough to include in my list of favourites in the area. It has an indoor skating rink accessible in both winter and summer, with fun, safe, and inclusive children’s programs year-round. The arena is bordered by Runnymede Park which is very large and great for kids to run around in.
7. Annette Street Library
A delightful Toronto Public Library, at Annette Street Library you can sign out passes for various tourist attractions. If you are trying to be healthy they also sign out pedometers for three weeks at a time. Most importantly for families is that it has a great kids books selection.
Keeping with the artistic legacy of the neighbourhood, ARTiculations is an art supply store that also conducts classes for both adults and youth. In the Earl Selkirk Gallery they frequently have cool art exhibitions with pieces by local Toronto artists.
The Junction is in West End Toronto, just north of High Park. It is bordered to the south by Annette Street, the west by Runnymede Street, the east by Keele Street, and the north by train tracks. Dundas Street runs right through the neighbourhood.
The Junction began as a railway town in the 1870s. By 1891, The Junction had 5,000 residents—large enough to be classified as a town. The population and community continued to grow, with churches, libraries, and schools popping up.
The Junction retains its small-town feel today. And after decades of infamy as a rough neighbourhood (due in part to the stockyards nearby, which closed in the mid-nineties), The Junction experienced a renaissance in the early 2000s. The repeal of the neighbourhood’s prohibition on alcohol in 2000 helped its growth. Today The Junction is a vibrant community with restaurants, cafés, independent shops, and many young families.