Roncesvalles

Sorauren Avenue Park
289 Sorauren Avenue
The largest park within the neighbourhood features a bake oven, ball diamond, bottle filling station and fountain, off-leash dogs area, outdoor tennis court, and sport field. The park was previously the site of a large industrial complex that was home to Dominion Bridge Steel, which manufactured steel girders (a type of beam) for the Bloor Street Viaduct. After the factory closed, the site was home to a TTC bus garage, and then briefly a film studio before being transformed into a park, opening in 1995. The park also offers great views of the downtown Toronto skyline. Just across the street is a spectacular mural in Charles G. Williams Park. The mural was painted by neighbourhood artist Eli Klein in collaboration with Kristin McCrea, and features the phrase 'Young Hearts Run Free'.

Columbus Parkette
1985 Dundas Street West
A small parkette featuring a drinking fountain, fieldhouse, playground, and wading pool. Tons of colourful murals exist in this park. On the south side, on the side of a building, is a mural by Cruz1 and another mural, painted by artist Uber, exists at the park's north edge. Many murals are also painted on the garages surrounding the park as part of a project meant to beautify the space and make it more welcoming.

BF Harvey Bedding Factory
2154 Dundas Street West
*Note: Private property. Please observe the building from the street only. This building was initially constructed as a bedding factory for the BF Harvey Company. A Heritage Toronto plaque near the front entrance notes that it was designed by architect James Walker and opened in 1911, with an additional two stories added in 1922. It is considered to be an excellent example of twentieth century industrial design influenced by Edwardian classicism. Distinguishing architectural features of the building include the roofline cornice and industrial-scale windows. It was transformed into the condo building that it is today in 2009.

'Hairspray' Filming Location
Dundas Street West & Roncesvalles Avenue
The intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue was transformed into 1960s Baltimore in late 2006 for the filming of the hit movie 'Hairspray'. In particular, 2201 Dundas Street West acted as Mr. Pinky's Dress Shop, and the intersection itself was utilized for many street scenes.

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue
*Note: Please follow Toronto Public Health's guidelines for visiting community & allotment gardens. Previously a barren piece of concrete, this section of the intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue was transformed into the beautiful Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden in 2016. The garden features native plant species and plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the surroundings. It also features The Peace Path, 24 granite stones engraved with words, images, or phrases that were conceived by youth from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The Mississaugas of the Credit were also consulted for the proper recognition of First Nation interests, contributed to the landscape design, and to the development of a historical plaque located on site.

2201 Dundas Street West
2201 Dundas Street West
In addition to being a filming location for 'Hairspray', this heritage-designated building has its own fascinating history. It was previously a Bank of Toronto branch that was robbed on November 20, 1951 by notorious bank robber Edwin Alonzo Boyd. Boyd and his gang were media darlings due to their shocking criminal antics and hard-partying lifestyle. They had recently escaped after being imprisoned at the Don Jail in Toronto's east end on November 4, and it is believed Boyd fled to a house on nearby Wright Avenue to hide shortly thereafter. The group was ultimately captured by police in a barn near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue in September 1952 after a second escape from the Don Jail, and two members were publicly executed for killing a Toronto Police officer after another heist near College Avenue and Lansdowne Avenue that March.

Jim Bravo Mural
459 Roncesvalles Avenue
This mural depicts a scene at the nearby Grenadier Pond, a familiar local landmark in Toronto's High Park.

Emily May Rose Murals
Alleyway behind 411 & 413 Roncesvalles Avenue
Some fantastic new murals by local artist Emily May Rose can be found in an alleyway behind Roncesvalles Avenue. The murals were privately commissioned in spring 2020, and reflect on life during the COVID-19 pandemic. They depict scenes of playful raccoons, and of people enjoying themselves at home.

150 Fermanagh Avenue
150 Fermanagh Avenue
*Note: Private property. Please observe the building from the street only. This building was constructed around 1905, and was initially a commercial building that housed the York County Loan and Savings Bank. After the company's owner was arrested for fraud, the building was taken over by Home Smith Dominion Bank around 1910 and was converted to residential use, increasing its size from three to five stories. Today, it is among the largest and most prominent buildings on Roncesvalles Avenue.

Jim Bravo and Philip Cote Mural
149 Roncesvalles Avenue
This mural replaced a romantic colonial scene with imagery that reflects the Indigenous roots of the area as well as the present urban community and vision for a sustainable future.

Brighton Theatre
127 Roncesvalles Avenue
*Note: Portions of this building are private property. Please observe from the street only. This building used to house the Brighton Theatre, a 400-seat, two-storey movie theatre. While the marquee sign that read 'Brighton' is no longer there, the former theatre's canopy still hangs over the street. The building has since been turned into a mixed commercial-residential space, with retail stores on the ground floor, and apartments on the two floors above.

Grafton Avenue Park and Mural
23 Roncesvalles Avenue
*Note: Please follow Toronto Public Health's guidelines for visiting community & allotment gardens. This park is home to a lovely community garden that has engaged neighbourhood residents and become a social hub. There is also a wonderful mural painted by artist Walter Ruston on the wall of an adjacent business that depicts the former Sunnyside Amusement Area, which was located along the shore of Lake Ontario near this site. The mural shows what Sunnyside may have looked like in its heyday, depicting a busy scene with roller coasters, a water nymph competition, and planes flying overhead.

Alexa Hatanaka, Patrick Thompson, and Sean Martindale 'PA System' Mural
1640 Queen Street West
Created as an element of the Parkdale Neighbourhood Plan, Solidarity represents the core values of the plan - inclusiveness, affordability, diversity and equity. The colors reflect the large Tibetan and Roma communities that call Parkdale home.

Women Paint TO Murals
Alleyway behind the north side of Queen Street West (between Lansdowne Avenue and Macdonell Avenue)
A series of spectacular murals featuring feminist themes can be found in this alleyway behind Queen Street West. The project was spearheaded by Women Paint TO, with most of the artwork painted by 20 female-identifying artists in the summer of 2017. Some of the murals here include one painted by Emily May Rose that features some colourfully painted young women, and another by Aura and Chief Lady Bird that depicts an Indigenous mother.

1408-1410 Queen Street West & O'Hara Gardens Plaque
1408-1410 Queen Street West
Considered to be some of the most architecturally complex and refined buildings in Parkdale, these two heritage-designated adjoining structures were built in 1889, the same year Parkdale was annexed into the City of Toronto. Designed by architect George Wallace Gouinlock - who later designed several buildings on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds as well as the north wing of Queen's Park - the buildings were owned by James Laxton, who was a prominent business owner in Parkdale and for whom nearby Laxton Avenue is named after. Just down the street at the northwest corner of Queen Street West and O'Hara Avenue, a historical plaque speaks to the history of Lieutenant Colonel Walter O'Hara, one of the earliest European settlers of the area and whom O'Hara Avenue is named after.

Explore Roncesvalles

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Artists from various disciplines present messages of hope and resilience throughout the city in the form of text-based visual art installations.
Kate Nankervis
Toronto Public Library: Runnymede Branch
2178 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S 1M8

Check out main street storefront art installations, in the neighbourhood or nearby, created by Local Arts Organizations and Business Improvement Areas across the City.

Painting Icon StrollTO Guided Walks:

On select weekend dates, join guided walks and discover the diverse histories and cultural significance behind neighbourhood landmarks and attractions.
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We hope that you enjoyed exploring this Toronto neighbourhood and found many other points of interest along the way. While StrollTO highlights some of the 'hidden gems' in the neighbourhood, there may be others that could be included in a future edition. Would you like to share a point of interest that you discovered in the neighbourhood? Email us at [email protected].

Neighbourhood Stroll

Featuring a delightful combination of old world charm and exciting new transformations, the Roncesvalles neighbourhood (referred to as 'Roncy' by locals) has something for everyone. Historically the home of Toronto's Polish community, numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants along Roncesvalles Avenue continue to offer a taste of all things Polish. The neighbourhood has changed rapidly over the years, and many other exciting new businesses have moved in, offering a diverse array of goods and services. It also passes along Queen Street West in the Parkdale area, another fast-changing area with plenty of hip bars and cafes, as well as some of the best antique stores in Toronto. Plenty of fantastic local businesses can be found in the three separate BIAs this stroll touches on: Bloor by the Park, Roncesvalles Village, and Parkdale Village.

Main Streets: Queen Street West, Roncesvalles Avenue, Dundas Street West and Sorauren Avenue
  1. Sorauren Avenue Park
    289 Sorauren Avenue
    The largest park within the neighbourhood features a bake oven, ball diamond, bottle filling station and fountain, off-leash dogs area, outdoor tennis court, and sport field. The park was previously the site of a large industrial complex that was home to Dominion Bridge Steel, which manufactured steel girders (a type of beam) for the Bloor Street Viaduct. After the factory closed, the site was home to a TTC bus garage, and then briefly a film studio before being transformed into a park, opening in 1995. The park also offers great views of the downtown Toronto skyline. Just across the street is a spectacular mural in Charles G. Williams Park. The mural was painted by neighbourhood artist Eli Klein in collaboration with Kristin McCrea, and features the phrase 'Young Hearts Run Free'.
  2. Columbus Parkette
    1985 Dundas Street West
    A small parkette featuring a drinking fountain, fieldhouse, playground, and wading pool. Tons of colourful murals exist in this park. On the south side, on the side of a building, is a mural by Cruz1 and another mural, painted by artist Uber, exists at the park's north edge. Many murals are also painted on the garages surrounding the park as part of a project meant to beautify the space and make it more welcoming.
  3. BF Harvey Bedding Factory
    2154 Dundas Street West
    *Note: Private property. Please observe the building from the street only. This building was initially constructed as a bedding factory for the BF Harvey Company. A Heritage Toronto plaque near the front entrance notes that it was designed by architect James Walker and opened in 1911, with an additional two stories added in 1922. It is considered to be an excellent example of twentieth century industrial design influenced by Edwardian classicism. Distinguishing architectural features of the building include the roofline cornice and industrial-scale windows. It was transformed into the condo building that it is today in 2009.
  4. 'Hairspray' Filming Location
    Dundas Street West & Roncesvalles Avenue
    The intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue was transformed into 1960s Baltimore in late 2006 for the filming of the hit movie 'Hairspray'. In particular, 2201 Dundas Street West acted as Mr. Pinky's Dress Shop, and the intersection itself was utilized for many street scenes.
  5. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
    Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue
    *Note: Please follow Toronto Public Health's guidelines for visiting community & allotment gardens. Previously a barren piece of concrete, this section of the intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue was transformed into the beautiful Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden in 2016. The garden features native plant species and plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the surroundings. It also features The Peace Path, 24 granite stones engraved with words, images, or phrases that were conceived by youth from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The Mississaugas of the Credit were also consulted for the proper recognition of First Nation interests, contributed to the landscape design, and to the development of a historical plaque located on site.
  6. 2201 Dundas Street West
    2201 Dundas Street West
    In addition to being a filming location for 'Hairspray', this heritage-designated building has its own fascinating history. It was previously a Bank of Toronto branch that was robbed on November 20, 1951 by notorious bank robber Edwin Alonzo Boyd. Boyd and his gang were media darlings due to their shocking criminal antics and hard-partying lifestyle. They had recently escaped after being imprisoned at the Don Jail in Toronto's east end on November 4, and it is believed Boyd fled to a house on nearby Wright Avenue to hide shortly thereafter. The group was ultimately captured by police in a barn near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue in September 1952 after a second escape from the Don Jail, and two members were publicly executed for killing a Toronto Police officer after another heist near College Avenue and Lansdowne Avenue that March.
  7. Jim Bravo Mural
    459 Roncesvalles Avenue
    This mural depicts a scene at the nearby Grenadier Pond, a familiar local landmark in Toronto's High Park.
  8. Emily May Rose Murals
    Alleyway behind 411 & 413 Roncesvalles Avenue
    Some fantastic new murals by local artist Emily May Rose can be found in an alleyway behind Roncesvalles Avenue. The murals were privately commissioned in spring 2020, and reflect on life during the COVID-19 pandemic. They depict scenes of playful raccoons, and of people enjoying themselves at home.
  9. 150 Fermanagh Avenue
    150 Fermanagh Avenue
    *Note: Private property. Please observe the building from the street only. This building was constructed around 1905, and was initially a commercial building that housed the York County Loan and Savings Bank. After the company's owner was arrested for fraud, the building was taken over by Home Smith Dominion Bank around 1910 and was converted to residential use, increasing its size from three to five stories. Today, it is among the largest and most prominent buildings on Roncesvalles Avenue.
  10. Jim Bravo and Philip Cote Mural
    149 Roncesvalles Avenue
    This mural replaced a romantic colonial scene with imagery that reflects the Indigenous roots of the area as well as the present urban community and vision for a sustainable future.
  11. Brighton Theatre
    127 Roncesvalles Avenue
    *Note: Portions of this building are private property. Please observe from the street only. This building used to house the Brighton Theatre, a 400-seat, two-storey movie theatre. While the marquee sign that read 'Brighton' is no longer there, the former theatre's canopy still hangs over the street. The building has since been turned into a mixed commercial-residential space, with retail stores on the ground floor, and apartments on the two floors above.
  12. Grafton Avenue Park and Mural
    23 Roncesvalles Avenue
    *Note: Please follow Toronto Public Health's guidelines for visiting community & allotment gardens. This park is home to a lovely community garden that has engaged neighbourhood residents and become a social hub. There is also a wonderful mural painted by artist Walter Ruston on the wall of an adjacent business that depicts the former Sunnyside Amusement Area, which was located along the shore of Lake Ontario near this site. The mural shows what Sunnyside may have looked like in its heyday, depicting a busy scene with roller coasters, a water nymph competition, and planes flying overhead.
  13. Alexa Hatanaka, Patrick Thompson, and Sean Martindale 'PA System' Mural
    1640 Queen Street West
    Created as an element of the Parkdale Neighbourhood Plan, Solidarity represents the core values of the plan - inclusiveness, affordability, diversity and equity. The colors reflect the large Tibetan and Roma communities that call Parkdale home.
  14. Women Paint TO Murals
    Alleyway behind the north side of Queen Street West (between Lansdowne Avenue and Macdonell Avenue)
    A series of spectacular murals featuring feminist themes can be found in this alleyway behind Queen Street West. The project was spearheaded by Women Paint TO, with most of the artwork painted by 20 female-identifying artists in the summer of 2017. Some of the murals here include one painted by Emily May Rose that features some colourfully painted young women, and another by Aura and Chief Lady Bird that depicts an Indigenous mother.
  15. 1408-1410 Queen Street West & O'Hara Gardens Plaque
    1408-1410 Queen Street West
    Considered to be some of the most architecturally complex and refined buildings in Parkdale, these two heritage-designated adjoining structures were built in 1889, the same year Parkdale was annexed into the City of Toronto. Designed by architect George Wallace Gouinlock - who later designed several buildings on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds as well as the north wing of Queen's Park - the buildings were owned by James Laxton, who was a prominent business owner in Parkdale and for whom nearby Laxton Avenue is named after. Just down the street at the northwest corner of Queen Street West and O'Hara Avenue, a historical plaque speaks to the history of Lieutenant Colonel Walter O'Hara, one of the earliest European settlers of the area and whom O'Hara Avenue is named after.

Accessibility information: All of the points of interest listed in this stroll are viewable from the street. Sorauren Avenue Park and Grafton Avenue Park contain some unpaved paths.

Soundtracks of the City

From global superstars to local favourites and ones to watch, the Soundtracks of the City playlists all feature artists who have called Toronto home. Whether it’s a lyric about the neighborhood, an artist representing a cultural community, or a tie-in to the StrollTO itinerary itself, all the music reflects connections to an individual ward or the City as a whole.

Music was chosen based on an artist’s Spotify presence and each song’s broad appeal, as well as its associations with the cultures, languages and ethnicities that reflect Toronto’s neighborhoods and diverse music scene. Soundtracks of the City combines 425 songs that feature more than 500 different local artists or acts, showcasing songs in 23 different languages.