Willowdale West

Stafford Park
100 Stafford Road
A 1.7 hectare park near Bathurst Street and Finch Avenue West with pathways that lead to a children's playground and open green space.

York Cottage
Northeast Corner of Hounslow Avenue and Horsham Avenue
York Cottage was a building that was previously on this site. It was originally constructed in 1850 to house the Johnson Family. The house later became a rural cottage for the Red Cross, and then offices for the Children's Aid Society. The building was demolished in 1993. The stone gates of the cottage remain at the eastern end of Hounslow Avenue. A plaque commemorates the gates and the former cottage.

Sophie Berg Artbox
Beecroft Road & Churchill Avenue
The box showcases observational sketches of Torontonians from all over the city. It represents a true cross-section of Toronto, illustrating its diverse population. When citizens and visitors view the design, they are reminded that Toronto is a home for everyone, and feel welcome and appreciated.

Dempsey Store & Park
250 Beecroft Road
The Dempsey Store originally stood on the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. It was built in 1860 by Joseph Shepard II, son of Joseph Shepard who was one of the earliest settlers of York in the 1790s. Joseph Shepard II operated a store that housed the local post office until 1888. It was the first general store in the area. Benjamin Brown purchased the building in 1904 and it was known as Brown's Store until 1921. In the early 1920s, it was sold to George and William Dempsey and came to be known as the Dempsey Brothers Hardware Store. It was a very familiar North York landmark. The store was relocated to this present location in 1996 and is now home to the Shining Through Centre, which provides services to children with autism and their families. In Dempsey Park, several pieces of art are installed along the park's pathways. This installation is called 'Timetrack' and it reminds visitors of the site's past as part of the Gibson family farm. Created by Millie Chen and Warren Quigley, the bronze cast artwork appears at irregular intervals on the park's pathways and shows symbols of the site from the past. For more information, look for the plaque within the park.

Gibson House Museum and Gibson Park
5172 Yonge Street
Explore Gibson House Museum, an elegant farmhouse from 1851 owned by the Gibson family. Tours of the museum unravel the history of the land and the heroes, rebels, reformers and storytellers who called Willowdale home, from the 1830s all the way to modern time. David Gibson risked his home and family to make Toronto better for himself and his neighbours, but while working as a land surveyor, he also disrupted Indigenous ways of life that existed for tens of thousands of years. The site also features an apple orchard, gardens, a public art installation and a large granite wall etched with photos of Gibson descendants.

Apple Tree on Yonge Street
5172 Yonge Street
This out-of-place apple tree in the centre of a plaza on Yonge Street is an enchanting link to the past. Originally planted as part of an apple orchard established by David Gibson, it's believed to date back to the 1830s. The tree is a Tolman Sweet, a variety of apple tree developed in the northeastern United States in the early 1800s. It continues to produce fruit yearly.

North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street
North York Central Library is one of Toronto's busiest libraries, with 1.6 million items borrowed every year and 1.5 million visitors. It is one of two research and reference libraries in the city and holds more than 600,000 items! Back in 1950, The North York Public Library Association Board (a community organization for library services) was formed and operated a library on the ground floor of North York Memorial Hall, which is located on the west side of Yonge Street, south of Park Home Avenue. In the 50s, the library comprised the location in Memorial Hall, a portable classroom to house the children's library, and a bookmobile. In 1987, a new North York Central Library four times larger replaced the former building. In 1998, the North York Central Library became part of the new Toronto Public Library following municipal amalgamation. The building is currently undergoing major renovations. The first four floors are open and available and feature a beautiful new wooden staircase, a Digital Innovation Hub, and the Toronto Public Library's first fabrication studio, complete with sewing and embroidery machines. The remaining floors, including the Society and Recreation Department, will open when they are completed.

'Birds In Flight' at North York Civic Centre
5100 Yonge Street
This building once served as the city hall for the former City of North York. Designed by Adamson Associates Architects, the construction of the building was intended to act as a catalyst for the development of the North York City Centre, a downtown area for the formerly suburban North York. The building received The Governor General's Medal for Architecture in 1982. The 'Birds in Flight' ceiling mobile by Canadian artist Micheline Beauchemin was created in 1978. Well-known for her tapestries, Beauchemin worked with a variety of materials including fibres and aluminum. Her works are in collections across the country including the National Gallery of Canada. Beauchemin received numerous awards including the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Mel Lastman Square
5100 Yonge Street
Mel Lastman Square is a local cultural hub that hosts a number of Toronto's major annual events including a Canada Day Celebration, Cultura, Korean Harvest Festival, Hispanic Fiesta, Sunday Serenades as well as a weekly farmers' market. The square features an amphitheatre, reflecting pool/skating rink and a watercourse that runs from the street level to the lower level. It was designed by J. Michael Kirkland and officially opened in 1989. It was named for Mel Lastman, the mayor of North York from 1973 to 1997 and the mayor of Toronto from 1998 to 2003. He is one of the country's longest serving mayors. While visiting the square, it is important to acknowledge the 10 people who lost their lives and sixteen injured during the Yonge Street van attack between Finch and Sheppard Avenues on April 23, 2018.

Ellerslie Park
499 Ellerslie Avenue
A 1.4 hectare park on Bathurst Street south of Finch Avenue West featuring a children's playground and open green space.

Gibson House Museum
5172 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N 5P7
Poems For Your Path
Artists from various disciplines present messages of hope and resilience throughout the city in the form of text-based visual art installations.
Women Paint

Explore Willowdale West

Now is the time for residents to experience all that tourists have been raving about for years. Discover shops, stops, places and spaces on city main streets. Stay curious, Toronto.

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Don't Miss

Artists from various disciplines present messages of hope and resilience throughout the city in the form of text-based visual art installations.
Women Paint
Gibson House Museum
5172 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N 5P7

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.
Learn more and register.

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

Willowdale West offers plenty of history to be told through its parks and attractions and an apple tree that's almost two centuries old! Wander along Yonge Street, Finch Avenue West and Bathurst Street for a great mix of local shops and restaurants.

Main Streets: Yonge Street, Finch Avenue West and Bathurst Street
  1. Stafford Park
    100 Stafford Road
    A 1.7 hectare park near Bathurst Street and Finch Avenue West with pathways that lead to a children's playground and open green space.
  2. York Cottage
    Northeast Corner of Hounslow Avenue and Horsham Avenue
    York Cottage was a building that was previously on this site. It was originally constructed in 1850 to house the Johnson Family. The house later became a rural cottage for the Red Cross, and then offices for the Children's Aid Society. The building was demolished in 1993. The stone gates of the cottage remain at the eastern end of Hounslow Avenue. A plaque commemorates the gates and the former cottage.
  3. Sophie Berg Artbox
    Beecroft Road & Churchill Avenue
    The box showcases observational sketches of Torontonians from all over the city. It represents a true cross-section of Toronto, illustrating its diverse population. When citizens and visitors view the design, they are reminded that Toronto is a home for everyone, and feel welcome and appreciated.
  4. Dempsey Store & Park
    250 Beecroft Road
    The Dempsey Store originally stood on the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. It was built in 1860 by Joseph Shepard II, son of Joseph Shepard who was one of the earliest settlers of York in the 1790s. Joseph Shepard II operated a store that housed the local post office until 1888. It was the first general store in the area. Benjamin Brown purchased the building in 1904 and it was known as Brown's Store until 1921. In the early 1920s, it was sold to George and William Dempsey and came to be known as the Dempsey Brothers Hardware Store. It was a very familiar North York landmark. The store was relocated to this present location in 1996 and is now home to the Shining Through Centre, which provides services to children with autism and their families. In Dempsey Park, several pieces of art are installed along the park's pathways. This installation is called 'Timetrack' and it reminds visitors of the site's past as part of the Gibson family farm. Created by Millie Chen and Warren Quigley, the bronze cast artwork appears at irregular intervals on the park's pathways and shows symbols of the site from the past. For more information, look for the plaque within the park.
  5. Gibson House Museum and Gibson Park
    5172 Yonge Street
    Explore Gibson House Museum, an elegant farmhouse from 1851 owned by the Gibson family. Tours of the museum unravel the history of the land and the heroes, rebels, reformers and storytellers who called Willowdale home, from the 1830s all the way to modern time. David Gibson risked his home and family to make Toronto better for himself and his neighbours, but while working as a land surveyor, he also disrupted Indigenous ways of life that existed for tens of thousands of years. The site also features an apple orchard, gardens, a public art installation and a large granite wall etched with photos of Gibson descendants.
  6. Apple Tree on Yonge Street
    5172 Yonge Street
    This out-of-place apple tree in the centre of a plaza on Yonge Street is an enchanting link to the past. Originally planted as part of an apple orchard established by David Gibson, it's believed to date back to the 1830s. The tree is a Tolman Sweet, a variety of apple tree developed in the northeastern United States in the early 1800s. It continues to produce fruit yearly.
  7. North York Central Library
    5120 Yonge Street
    North York Central Library is one of Toronto's busiest libraries, with 1.6 million items borrowed every year and 1.5 million visitors. It is one of two research and reference libraries in the city and holds more than 600,000 items! Back in 1950, The North York Public Library Association Board (a community organization for library services) was formed and operated a library on the ground floor of North York Memorial Hall, which is located on the west side of Yonge Street, south of Park Home Avenue. In the 50s, the library comprised the location in Memorial Hall, a portable classroom to house the children's library, and a bookmobile. In 1987, a new North York Central Library four times larger replaced the former building. In 1998, the North York Central Library became part of the new Toronto Public Library following municipal amalgamation. The building is currently undergoing major renovations. The first four floors are open and available and feature a beautiful new wooden staircase, a Digital Innovation Hub, and the Toronto Public Library's first fabrication studio, complete with sewing and embroidery machines. The remaining floors, including the Society and Recreation Department, will open when they are completed.
  8. 'Birds In Flight' at North York Civic Centre
    5100 Yonge Street
    This building once served as the city hall for the former City of North York. Designed by Adamson Associates Architects, the construction of the building was intended to act as a catalyst for the development of the North York City Centre, a downtown area for the formerly suburban North York. The building received The Governor General's Medal for Architecture in 1982. The 'Birds in Flight' ceiling mobile by Canadian artist Micheline Beauchemin was created in 1978. Well-known for her tapestries, Beauchemin worked with a variety of materials including fibres and aluminum. Her works are in collections across the country including the National Gallery of Canada. Beauchemin received numerous awards including the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.
  9. Mel Lastman Square
    5100 Yonge Street
    Mel Lastman Square is a local cultural hub that hosts a number of Toronto's major annual events including a Canada Day Celebration, Cultura, Korean Harvest Festival, Hispanic Fiesta, Sunday Serenades as well as a weekly farmers' market. The square features an amphitheatre, reflecting pool/skating rink and a watercourse that runs from the street level to the lower level. It was designed by J. Michael Kirkland and officially opened in 1989. It was named for Mel Lastman, the mayor of North York from 1973 to 1997 and the mayor of Toronto from 1998 to 2003. He is one of the country's longest serving mayors. While visiting the square, it is important to acknowledge the 10 people who lost their lives and sixteen injured during the Yonge Street van attack between Finch and Sheppard Avenues on April 23, 2018.
  10. Ellerslie Park
    499 Ellerslie Avenue
    A 1.4 hectare park on Bathurst Street south of Finch Avenue West featuring a children's playground and open green space.
  11. Gibson House Museum
    5172 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N 5P7
    Poems For Your Path
    Artists from various disciplines present messages of hope and resilience throughout the city in the form of text-based visual art installations.
    Women Paint

Accessibility information: All points of interest are visible from the street, except for 'Birds in Flight' at North York Civic Centre. North York Civic Centre's north and south entrances on the ground floor are accessible. Paved pathways run through Stafford Park

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.