Willowdale Neighbourhood, Toronto
Willowdale is an established community in the former City of North York, now part of Metropolitan Toronto. Willowdale is a growing and diverse community that is ideal for young professional, small and large families alike. It has a bustling central location around Yonge and Sheppard, has many beautiful parks, excellent schools and is filled with interesting activities all year round.
Location: for Condo listings in Willowdale click here
Residential listings in Willowdale click here
The boundaries of the current neighbourhood extend as far east as Leslie Street, west to Senlac Avenue, south to the 401 freeway, and north to Steeles Avenue. The neighbourhood abuts Bayview Village to the east and Newtonbrook to the north (sometimes Newtonbrook is considered part of Willowdale, as territories of neighborhoods significantly overlap). The North York Centre is centred at the intersection of Yonge Street and Empress Avenue and is commonly thought to be a part of Willowdale, though its high-rise residential and commercial development in recent years sets it apart from much of the rest of Willowdale.
The Willowdale neighbourhood consists of single family homes, condominium townhouses and high-rise condominium towers. High density development is restricted along Yonge Street. The single family homes range in age from the original 1910 to 1950s construction (one and two-storey pre-war houses and modest one-and-half storey postwar houses). After the 1990s, very large replacement two-storey luxury homes were constructed by tearing down the original houses. It is in this neighbourhood that the term "monster homes" was first applied by Torontonians
Willowdale was originally a village centred at the intersection of Willowdale Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, where a number of small business and commercial buildings still remain. It was originally called "Lansing". Later the area was merged with five other municipalities and a regional government to form the new City of Toronto in 1998.
Willowdale was originally settled by Jacob Cummer, who immigrated to Canada from the United States in 1797. Cummer was a mill owner on the nearby Don River, a proprietor of a tinsmith shop on Yonge Street and a self trained doctor and veterinarian. Cummer was held in such high esteem by his neighbours that this area was originally known as Kummer's Settlement.
David Gibson, a distinguished land surveyor, was another leader in this community. Like most of his neighbours, Gibson participated in the ill-fated Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. He was thus charged with high treason and escaped to the United States were he found employment as the First Assistant Engineer on the building of the Erie Canal.
Gibson returned to his Yonge Street farm in 1851, after being pardoned for his role in the Rebellion. He then helped to establish the "Willow Dale" post office, named after the many willow trees that once graced this district. Members of the Gibson family were still living in Gibson House in the 1920s when the residential subdivision of Willowdale began to take place. The Gibson House, circa 1851, is still standing in its original location at 5172 Yonge Street and is now a historic museum.