Living in Glen Park
Glen Park is a diverse community bringing together people from broad socio-economic backgrounds. Italian Canadian families own many of the homes around Dufferin Street, while a large Jewish orthodox community resides closer to Bathurst Street.
Glen Park also has a low-income district that is located in the centre of this neighbourhood near the Allen Expressway. This pocket of Glen Park is home to many new Canadians and contains geared-to-income rental housing.
The Glen Park Public School recently received the Canada Award of Excellence from the National Quality Institute. This award recognizes the improved standards and above average test results achieved at this school, which also boasts a strong French Immersion program.
History of Glen Park
One of Glen Park’s first settlers was Sir Sanford Fleming – the father of standard time and the chief engineer of the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron Railway. Fleming’s property was located just south of Lawrence Avenue between Dufferin and Keele Streets. In 1856, Fleming subdivided his farm into the Balmoral subdivision, which was the first planned subdivision in North York. Unfortunately, Fleming was ahead of his time – pardon the pun – and Balmoral never got past the marketing stage.
Fleming’s son Colonel Fred Fleming took over the family farm in 1881 and began importing and breeding Hereford cattle. Under the young Fleming’s guidance “Park Farm” rose to prominence as one of the finest stock breeding farms in Canada.
Glen Park’s transition from farmland to residential neighbourhood began in the 1920’s. Its largest period of growth occurred after the second world war, when many returning war veterans and their families settled in Glen Park. This increased population led to the building of the Glen Park Public School in 1948.
Homes in Glen Park
Glen Park contains an eclectic mix of houses that come in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. The oldest homes in this neighbourhood are the cosy looking white or pastel painted bungalows. These homes were built mostly in the late 1940’s and contain pleasing decorative accents such as front bay windows and accent octagonal shaped windows. Note that while many of these bungalows are framed with aluminum siding there are also a fair number of houses framed with asbestos siding which was popular during this era for its fire resistant features.
The slightly larger brick bungalows that are also common in this neighbourhood were built mostly between 1955 and 1972. They include ranch-style, split-level, and raised bungalow designs. Since the early 1990’s a growing number of Glen Park’s original housing stock has been replaced by new custom built homes that are well suited to the expansive lots found in this neighbourhood.
Lifestyle in Glen Park
The Lawrence Square Shopping Centre, situated on Lawrence Avenue West at the Allen Expressway, is anchored by two national department stores and a large Italian Supermarket. This shopping centre also includes many smaller independent retailers as well as professional and medical offices.
The Lawrence Plaza at the north-west corner of Lawrence Avenue and Bathurst Street is anchored by a popular discount department store and a twenty-four hour food market. This plaza is filled with discount and outlet stores that attract a local and regional clientele.
Street shopping on both Dufferin Street and Marlee Avenue ranges from Italian food markets and Chinese restaurants to car dealerships and auto body shops. Bathurst Street has a Jewish flavour with Kosher food shops and restaurants mixed in with professional and medical offices, a large supermarket and a prominent drug store.
Recreation in Glen Park
The Glen Long Community Centre at 35 Glen Long Avenue has an indoor gymnasium and two indoor bocce courts as well as preschool and meeting rooms. This community centre is adjacent to Glen Long Park which has an outdoor hockey rink, a swimming pool, a bocce ball court, and a children’s playground. Viewmount Park and Wenderly Park are also located in this neighbourhood. Both these parks feature baseball diamonds and children’s playgrounds. Viewmount Park also has tennis courts and a tennis club.
The Columbus Centre at 901 Lawrence Avenue West is a vibrant community centre that brings together art, culture, food, fitness, and friends. The Columbus Centre is recognized as the Italian Canadian contribution to multiculturalism in the Metropolitan Toronto area. The Columbus Centre has a cultural wing, an athletic wing with over 80,000 square feet of multi-purpose facilities and an art gallery that features modern art and historical exhibits by local, national and international artists. This centre also has an Italian restaurant, a cafe and meeting rooms.
Transportation in Glen Park
Many Glen Park residents are within walking distance of either the Glencairn or the Lawrence West subway stations, which are located between Bathurst and Dufferin Streets on overpasses above the Allen Expressway. These stations are part of the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.
For those commuting by car, Bathurst and Dufferin Streets are major north-south arterial roadways that provide a direct link south to the Toronto waterfront and north to the suburbs. Motorists can access Toronto’s network of commuter highways from the Allen Expressway interchange located along Lawrence Avenue West at the north end of this neighbourhood.