Living in York Mills
York Mills is one of Toronto’s most affluent neighbourhoods. Its mills are long gone replaced by shining office towers and luxury condominiums. Its main arterial roadways including Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue – which were once impassable by car, now serve as major roadways to and from the city core. Yet, despite all these changes York Mills has managed to maintain a peaceful tranquility and natural beauty that has helped make it one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods.
History of York Mills
“York” makes reference to the former Town of York – the forerunner to modern day Toronto and “Mills” refers to the grist and saw mills that churned in this valley from 1804 until 1926. During this period of industry York Mills was a busy place. It included a distillery, a tannery, a blacksmith shop, three churches, a school, a post office, a toll gate and the Jolly Miller Tavern which is still standing today at 3885 Yonge Street. Another York Mills landmark is St.John’s Anglican Church which began in 1816. The original log church was replaced by the present day white brick church in 1844. The church bells of St.John’s still ring out over the valley every day at noon cheerfully piercing the monotone roar of the traffic below on Yonge Street.
York Mills’ transition from a rural hamlet to a residential neighbourhood began in the 1930’s on the ridge of the hill near St. John’s Church, and in the Hedgewood Road area south of York Mills Road. St. Andrew’s College, a venerable boys private school owned the land east of Old Yonge Street over to Bayview Avenue during the early 1920’s before moving north to Aurora in 1924. The former St. Andrew’s College grounds were then purchased by St. Andrew’s Estates which operated a championship golf course at this site until the 1950’s when the club was sold to developers. St. Andrew’s Park, Tournament Park and local street names including Foursome and Lower Links, are reminders that this part of York Mills was once a golf course.
Ed Note: E.P. Taylor, a giant in the archives of Canadian business, oversaw the development of York Mills Plaza in 1952 and was responsible for subdividing much of York Mills east of Bayview Avenue.
Homes in York Mills
York Mills is famous for its expansive properties, century old trees and lush landscape. All of these trademarks form the perfect backdrop for the executive-style houses found in this neighbourhood. The original York Mills housing stock dates from the late 1920’s to the 1960’s. There are pockets of Tudor inspired manor houses, English Cottage style designs, and contemporary designs. There are also large numbers of ranch-style bungalows and split-level houses which are gradually being replaced by large new custom-built homes. York Mills also has its share of luxury condominium apartment buildings that have recently been built on the well treed hills around the Yonge Street and York Mills Road intersection. The Bayview Mills condominium townhouses located at the north-east corner of Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road provide entry level prices into this exclusive neighbourhood.
Ed. Note: York Mills heritage properties include the charming red brick cottage located at 4111 Yonge Street. This house was built in the 1830’s. From 1914 to 1941 it was the residence and studio of Canadian historical artist C.W. Jeffrey’s. The William and Elizabeth Harrison House at 111 Harrison Road was also built in the 1830’s. The Harrison’s were among the first settlers in the York Mills area.
Lifestyle in York Mills
York Mills Plaza is conveniently located at the south-west intersection of Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road. This popular outdoor shopping plaza is anchored by a large drug store, and a supermarket. York Mills Plaza also features an international restaurant, a wine shop, small specialty retail stores and a fine selection of gourmet food shops.
The Bayview Village Shopping Centre is located at the north-east corner of Bayview and Sheppard Avenues. This upscale shopping centre caters to the affluent York Mills market with several designer clothing and accessory stores, gift shops, a magazine and book shop, jewellery stores, and an excellent selection of restaurants.
The York Mills Centre located on the north-east corner of Yonge Street and York Mills Road has about a dozen retail shops and professional services in addition to medical offices and a food court. St. Andrew’s Square on Tournament Drive is a handy little shopping plaza that features a quaint courtyard of stores including a bank, dry cleaners, a video store, a restaurant, a veterinary clinic and professional and medical offices.
Recreation in York Mills
The multi-faceted York Mills Park, located at the south-east corner of York Mills Road and Bayview Avenue is well used in the summertime for a variety of pursuits. There is an outdoor pool for recreational swimming, a children’s playground and a baseball diamond with recreational house leagues. This park also provides access to Windfield’s Park which has an attractive footpath through a ravine valley that follows the winding course of Wilkett Creek, a tributary of the Don River.
York Mills Park is also the home of the York Mills Arena. This arena is busy year-round with organized hockey leagues, as well as power and pleasure skating. There are many parks located north of York Mills and west of Bayview Avenue. The largest of these neighbourhood parks is St. Andrew’s Park which features a mini valley and lush greenspace that is popular for walks and light recreational pursuits. Tournament Park located next to St. Andrew’s Square features tennis courts and an active tennis club program.
The oldest and most prestigious municipal course, Don Valley has a classic Howard Watson design, a traditional variety of holes, and a reputation for its exciting, natural setting. It’s a challenge to even the most skilled of golfers. Don Valley is located at 4200 Yonge St., just south of Highway 401. For more information or to book a tee time, call 416-392-2465.
Transportation in York Mills
York Mills is extremely well served by public transit. Bus lines runs on all of York Mills’ main arterial roadways including York Mills Road, Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue. All of these routes connect to stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. The York Mills subway station located at the north-east corner of Yonge Street and York Mills Road also serves as a Go Transit station and provides express service to the Pearson International Airport. Motorists can take Yonge Street directly downtown to Toronto’s major business and entertainment districts. On-ramps to Highway 401 are quickly accessed from either Yonge Street or Bayview Avenue.