Lindsay Reimers

Neighbourhood Spotlight - LESLIEVILLE

17 June 2019
Lindsay Reimers

Leslieville

A family-friendly neighbourhood along Queen St. in the east end of Toronto, Leslieville is at its core a junction for all things local. With thriving independent businesses, delicious restaurants and weekly community events, this east end neighbourhood feels more like a small town in a big city.

While many of Toronto’s hipsters are moving farther and farther west, Leslieville rules the east when it comes to great restaurants, bars, cafes and places to shop.

The area is full of artists, foodies, and families, and somehow seems to always be on the verge of becoming the Next Big Thing. It also borders on several other exciting areas, such as Riverside across the tracks to the west. There’s also The Beaches to the east and The Danforth to the north, making Leslieville the perfect gateway 'hood to all the wonders of Toronto’s east side. 

This short list of places to eat and things to do in Leslieville provides a look into what this neighbourhood has to offer. 

PLACES TO EAT 

Fankie’s Italian

Frankie’s Italian opened up in place of Lil’ Baci and has been thieving ever since. They sell coffee all day from from their sister company next door (Bob Coffee Bar) as well as serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Enjoy fresh pizza, daily pasta specials, and an exceptional negroni. So it doesn't matter what time of day you're looking to get out, this place has it all!

Lake Inez 

Photo: Lake Inez

Lake Inez is a charming and cosy craft beer gastropub in Little India with Asian-inspired eats and comfort food that took over the space formerly occupied by Siddhartha Pure Vegetarian.

Lake Inez is meant to function as both a snack bar for beer lovers as well as a bona fide place for dinner. Both the beer and the food here are terrific.

and we can't forget a personal favourite - Ruby Watchco.!

 

If you're not a picky eater, you have to try this place. 

The dinner menu is set and posted every day. Dinner features a salad course, a main with a variety of sides, a cheese course and a dessert ($49). It's all brought out family-style, so everyone at the table serves themselves from big common dishes. It's a neat idea, but one that only works when patrons can trust that their dinner is in good hands. Fortunately, the chef has the goods to back it up. I personally really enjoy the food and the whole experience. If you're looking for something different to try with a loved one or some friends, I recommend this place!

Other things to experience 

Newly renovated, the Broadview Hotel acts as a gateway to the east end both geographically and by inspiring a new wave of development around it. The building is historic, having been built in 1891, but the comforts are modern. One of their restaurants, The Civic, similarly puts a contemporary twist on historical classics.

The best part?

You don’t have to be a visitor to enjoy what’s on offer at the hotel.

The Rooftop restaurant has amazing views of the bustle of Queen Street, Toronto’s skyline and the Don River that are a wonder for anyone’s eyes. Or, you can also sip coffee and drinks downstairs at their ground floor Cafe + Bar.

Parks 

If you’re in Leslieville you’ve got lots of parks to choose from whether you’re looking to play a sport or just relax.

Jimmie Simpson Park is your go-to for sports. It’s fully equipped for a game of hockey, baseball, soccer, tennis or basketball. There’s also a swimming pool and indoor gym at the Jimmie Simpson Community Centre. Greenwood Park has great sports fields too, as well as an outdoor swimming pool, a winding skating track and a dog park. Hideaway Park, meanwhile, is a little nook with a playground and splash pad tucked in between houses that’s perfect for letting your dogs or your kids run free. Matty Eckler Playground will fill those needs, too.

Farmers’ Market

Support Ontario’s farmers and food producers directly when you visit the Leslieville Farmers’ Market. Discover sustainable produce, home baked goods, ethically-raised meat and a huge selection of prepared food – all nestled into Jonathan Ashbridges Park. It’s on every Sunday from 9am – 2pm. There’s even live bands, a kids program, demonstrations and a community garden – you won’t be able to tell if it’s a market or a charming neighbourhood party! 

Leslieville History 

Here's a little peak into Leslieville's history!

As Toronto’s population exploded in the 1850s, farmers subdivided their fields into small lots. Here, market gardeners grew fruit and vegetables to feed the city. Meanwhile, others found clay deposits and turned out bricks to build Toronto.


Wayfarers also rested, fed and watered themselves. By 1852, the village boasted three hotels, a blacksmith shop, and several general stores. When George Leslie, owner of Canada’s largest tree nursery, took over the Post Office and general store,

Leslieville was born!


In the 1830s workers paved Queen Street with planks. It became a toll road. Stagecoaches and travelers had to stop at a toll booth where the Duke of York is now. Like service centres on today’s expressways, entrepreneurs came to serve travelers who needed to water and feed their horses in stables and replace lost horseshoes in blacksmith shops.


Drovers herded cattle, sheep, and hogs along the road from the surrounding countryside. After they reached the tollgate, they turned their weary, hungry animals loose on the grass along Ashbridges Bay to fatten and Leslieville’s butchers supplied steaks, chops, sausages, bacon, etc. to feed “Hogtown”.


Abattoirs, nurseries, and brickyards became Leslieville’s major employers. Others cut ice and fished on Ashbridge’s Bay. Small shops provided necessities from sewing needles to shoes.


Soon professionals such as doctors and pharmacists came to care for the body and clergymen to care for the soul. And so Leslieville grew until in 1884 it became part of the City of Toronto and large industries began to locate in “the East End.”

If it's been a while since you've visited Leslieville, do yourself a favour and check it out! Leslieville is a such a great community and perfect for anyone who enjoys a small town feel in the big city!