Early developer’s vision for English-style suburb endures in the Kingsway
With its wide, winding streets, generous lots and lovely English-styles home, the Kingsway is a world apart from other city neighbourhoods.
The west-end neighbourhood, nestled between the Humber River Valley to the east and Montgomery Dr. to the west, Dundas St. to the north and Bloor St. W. to the south, was the vision of Etobicoke lawyer Robert Home Smith. In the early 1900s, Home Smith bought clergy reserve lands that had been deeded to the Church of England.
He imagined an ideal community and drew inspiration from the Garden City concept that originated in England in the 19 and early 20 centuries. Home Smith’s fascination with all things English was a major influence in the development of Kingsway Park.
Street names such as Queen Marys Dr. and Kingsgarden Rd. and the homes’ architectural styles, that include Arts and Crafts, Tudor Revival, Edwardian and Victorian, are evidence of Home Smith’s British passion. The homes were geared to wealthy buyers who wanted their residences to reflect respectability and affluence.
Marketing for Kingsway Park began in 1912, but sales stalled due to World War I and due to a lack of transportation routes across the Humber River Valley. The construction of the Bloor St. bridge in 1924 paved the way for Home Smith to starting selling and first buyers included many of Home Smith’s acquaintances, including Toronto businessmen and Northern Ontario mining executives.
The homes were constructed using locally sourced materials, including sandstone from the Humber River and Credit River areas, and Home Smith had strict regulations about cutting trees.
Despite being influenced by timeless British tradition, Smith recognized the growing importance of the automobile and all homes were built with garages.
Today, Home Smith’s vision remains intact and the Kingsway is one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods.
“It’s like Rosedale of the west end,” says real estate broker Linda Tickins. “It has the charming old homes and it’s a real family community. You see people walking the streets, the schools are fantastic and it’s close to the subway.”
Ms. Tickins says the Kingsway’s location makes it easy to escape to cottage and ski country, though there are great golf courses, jogging paths and walking trails for those that spend their leisure time close to home.
While Toronto’s financial and entertainment districts are just a 20 minute drive away, the Kingsway shopping district has a wealth of amenities to offer residents, including a range of specialty shops.
“There are some great restaurants, including traditional type dining, more modern eateries and English pubs. There’s the Old Mill Inn, too, that has nice dining and dancing,” says Ms. Tickins. “You can also walk from the Kingsway to Bloor West Village, which has an eclectic mix of shops.”
She says properties in the Kingsway run the gamut from cottage-style bungalows and one-and-a-half storey homes to spectacular mansions backing on the ravine.
“The entry point in the Kingsway is about $900,000 for a small bungalow, with the average price between $1 million and $2 million,” says Ms. Tickins. “Specialty properties can go for substantially more than that.”
She points out that the Kingsway is one of the neighbourhoods that is always in demand and the homes have proven to be sound investments.
“It’s actually one of the best-kept secrets as far as neighbourhoods,” she says. “You have the subway, shops, everything the more central properties have. It has much larger lots, people care about each other and it’s a safe neighbourhood.”