A walker’s guide to Weston

An artist’s concept of the Weston Hub showing the outdoor program space.

Beginning early next year, hundreds of people will be moving to Weston as part of the new Weston Hub. A few dozen will move into the 26 artist live / work residences while the vast majority, will rent in the 30 storey, 370 unit tower and podium currently being built by Rockport Group. At the moment, rental prices are unknown but they should be a lot cheaper than renting a condo. Here is a guide for those considering a move to our community and a possible reminder to those already here.

Your new address at 22 John Street has a walk score of 90 which, according to the experts qualifies as “a walker’s paradise; daily errands do not require a car”. Walking is a great exercise and has dramatic effects on longevity. Here are a few of the places that are within a short stroll of your new address.

Cultural Hangouts:

The Artscape Weston Hub: as mentioned, 26 artists will be living and working in your immediate neighbourhood along with 8200 square feet of indoor program space, 12,400 feet of outdoor program space; UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action will provide programs for young and old.  Read all about it here.

Weston’s beautiful Art Nouveau library built in 1913.

Housed in a beautiful century building, Weston’s public library was built in 1913 and is one of the libraries originally funded by the Carnegie foundation. This branch has a good variety of activities and opportunities to become involved with the community.

Weston’s outdoor theatre.

A few steps from Weston Road towards the river, there is an outdoor theatre in a beautiful setting on Little Avenue that may see more use now that Shakespeare In Action are relocating here.

Weston Historical Society is active, holds regular historical walks and talks and has a base of operations at 1901 Weston Road.

Weston has its own Santa Claus Parade. and Buskerfest organized by the BIA.

Restaurants:

Restaurants abound in Weston: a highly recommended burger joint, fish and chips, pizza, Chinese, Jamaican, Phillipine and Somali food, a chicken chain, family and a breakfast specialty chain. There are several independent coffee shops and even a Timmies. A superb Mexican restaurant is within a fifteen-minute walk but don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret.

Weston Farmers Market, will be outside your front door every Saturday from May to October.

Retail:

We have few major chains in the heart of Weston; Shoppers Drug Mart being a notable exception, but there are lots of small family owned stores selling a variety of items. Squibbs Stationers has been in Weston since 1927 and is a great place to get school supplies and textbooks. Incidentally, Weston Village has one the the oldest of Toronto’s business improvement areas.

There is a large Asian supermarket nearby but it may be closing soon as the site has been purchased by a developer. Shoppers Drug Mart has quite a large grocery section but you’ll need to go elsewhere for produce when the farmers market is not operating.

Greenland Farms produce section.

If you’d like a haircut / style / manicure, there is plenty of choice, including the ‘world famous’ Peter’s Barber Shop on your doorstep.

In spite of recent trends to close branches, we still have banks, BMO and RBC with branches close by and Luminus Financial credit union is a 10 minutes walk.

Medical:

There are several family doctors, walk in clinics, testing facilities, opticians and pharmacies, all within easy reach.

Sports and Nature:

Family and friends watch as children from across the GTA take part in a soccer tournament on Weston’s artificial turf soccer pitch.

Dog owners, fisher folk and photographers will be in their element in Weston as the Humber runs to the west.

The Humber river is a few minutes’ walk away.

A cycle / walking trail along the Humber leads through Cruickshank and Lions parks, the latter having lots of sporting facilities – an open air pool in summer, baseball diamonds, a FIFA standard artificial turf soccer pitch, tennis courts, a skateboard park and one of Toronto’s oldest hockey arenas with outstanding french fries.

Weston’s outdoor pool.

Commuting:

The UP Express and GO stations are 5 minutes away and will whisk you downtown in 14 minutes while airport workers will get to Terminal 1 even quicker. Weston is the city’s second biggest bus hub so there are many routes to pick from.

So there it is; you truly will be living in a walkers’ paradise.

Readers, did I miss anything? Please comment in the section below.

10 thoughts on “A walker’s guide to Weston”

  1. oh you missed alot this description sounds like Weston of old before the garbage moved in and the gang base at Weston and Lawrence you also forgot to mention the recent shootings and stabbing at Weston and Lawrence.You paint a pretty picture but putting new buildings in is not going to change what has become of what I grew up in.Sorry but this is the real truth.

    1. I was expecting this kind of disheartening response but not quite so quickly. Maureen, nothing that I wrote in the article is untrue. Yes, there is crime and there has been a recent spate of it here but we’re reaping the rewards of years of austerity, courtesy of our last two mayors. Poverty begets crime. Immigration also breeds fear and distrust. The vast majority of people who have moved to Weston in recent years are not ‘garbage’. They want a decent life for themselves and their families. As in any society, it’s the few who can spoil it for the many. I choose not to be ruled by fear of what can happen but I must also keep in mind that by far the greatest danger that I can face on a daily basis is cycling on our streets or crossing the road. I still do those dangerous behaviours in spite of the risk.

      BTW, I didn’t forget to mention the crime that goes on in every part of the city but there’s enough reporting of that in the regular press. All immigrants seem to be vilified no matter where they appear. Back in the 1840s Irish immigrants were the target of Toronto’s citizens.

      “Irish beggars are to be met everywhere, and they are ignorant and vicious as they are poor,” read one particularly notorious column from the time. “They are lazy, improvident and unthankful; they fill our poorhouses and our prisons.”

      George Brown in The Globe.

      Sound familiar? – read the comment section in the Sun for a modern day equivalent.

      “Police Reports indicate that two-thirds of all men and four-fiths of all women charged between the years 1850-1860 were Irish”

      The Irish Immigrant Adjustment to Toronto : 1840-1860 by Rev. D. S. SHEA, M.A., B.Th.,

      You say that nothing is going to change – you’re probably right given the present mayor’s austerity. We need better politicians, more effective policing and better support for newcomers so the they can become productive members of society. After all, these are the people who will be paying our taxes and pensions down the road.

  2. Thanks for reminding us of the narrowness of nostalgia, Roy. Weston has lots to offer, and people who want to live here with everyone who’s here.

    There are problems of poverty here, but also dedicated people trying to make a difference in spite of political disregard of the problems.

  3. I agree with Maureen and am dreading the influx into the new building. I enjoyed the neighbourhood briefly after moving here 11 years ago, however it didn’t take long for my opinion to change. Fact is, it had already been ruined by people unlike myself, nor my great grandparents who came here with nothing. Weston sucks. There isn’t a place to get a beer with friends and it’s virtually offensive to stroll on Jane and Weston. Stores sell Hijabs, goat heads, hair weaves and there’s money lending stolen items at pawn shops. It is a truly dismal place. My neighbours recently sold out to move away from it all. Another couple on my street is actively looking to do the same. My home too will be up for grabs soon, dead center in lovely Weston. The situation is quite similar to what has happened in other over run area with lack of assimilation. Several of my friends grew up in Brampton and watched what they refer to, as many ex-Bramtomites do, ‘the great white exit.’ There is no denying that it is now an entirely different suburb. Most of the original families fled anywhere they could with Georgetown being a favourite. As for myself, I’m looking forward to a safer, kinder, friendlier, more at ease place, where I don’t have to hear sirens 24/7 and the odd gunshots. Weston of days past is gone, never to return. Good luck with your future here!

    1. ‘Soon’: you’re dealing with two issues here:

      1. A fear of crime and that crime in Weston is worse than elsewhere in Toronto. If you look at Macleans list of most dangerous cities in Canada, you will see that Toronto is way down the list at #124. Compare that to Victoria #30, Edmonton #31, Vancouver #35, Winnipeg #40, St Johns #77, Calgary #93, and Montreal #97. You may be perceiving crime to be worse here than in other parts of the city but the statistics don’t bear that out. As I said to Maureen, the most dangerous thing you can do in Toronto is cross the road or ride a bike on our dangerous streets.

      2. Your alarm at an influx of people who are culturally and physically different to you.
      When immigrants move to a new country, they often seek out others of their ethnic group who have come before them. It makes life easier if you can buy food you’re accustomed to and so on. In the 1960s, Italians bought up a large number of homes in the St Clair and Dufferin neighbourhood. Many Italian stores and restaurants sprang up and the area developed a very Italian vibe. Since that time, other ethnic groups have moved in and now there is an eclectic mix of nationalities. This is the way immigration patterns seem to work. That part of Toronto called ‘Little Italy’ no longer has an Italian vibe. Where did those people go? They moved elsewhere and assimilated. The same is happening in other parts of the city. Weston is still in transition and we seem to have a wide range of ethnicities. If this offends you, it’s probably wise for you to move but it would be even better to talk to people of different ethnicities and not feel so threatened by them.

      Lastly, if you’re looking for a place to have a beer with friends, have you tried P&Ms? It has good food, friendly service and a pleasant atmosphere.

  4. Thank you, Roy, for the mention! Much appreciated. We are the oldest retail business at over 91 years but not the oldest in Weston – Ward Funeral Home would take that. And they are also another family business that has been passed down. We used to have 6 or 7 2nd-generation businesses in Weston and we currently have 4 that remain: us, Wards, Peter the Barber and P&M. It’s pretty spectacular, I think, to have that many remaining. Even Cruickshank Ford would technically be the oldest except it has changed hands and name over the years. We have a thriving Historical Society and Heritage Conservation District too. We are older than the city of Toronto.

    What I have said for years and still maintain regarding our main street is this: when residents abandon their main street to go shopping at big box retail or the large malls where they have ‘one-stop shopping’ and free parking, of course the main street will suffer! No one can stay in business when their customer base has left or abandoned them for the ‘greener pastures’. And other businesses will soon fill in those gaps whether they be ethnic or otherwise. And I, for one, am grateful for many of the newcomers who do support the store and have so over the years including those who no longer live here but regularly come back to shop because they know they can get what they need and want. We have clients from all over the place but I have to beg the Westonites who live in the residential side to come shop!!! And these are my own neighbours!

    I reject the idea that Weston is unsafe. Everywhere is unsafe. Yorkdale was yesterday. Because of idiots with too much testosterone and too small a brain. We have had 1 single murder in a year – how does that make us unsafe? You could have been unsafe on the Danforth. In the Entertainment District. On Yonge Street. Weston is only unsafe in the minds of those who believe it is. And you have to take care anywhere you go these days. This is the world we live in. Good luck in a smaller community. They have other issues. I’ll stick with Weston, warts and all. Yes it is discouraging some days but it could be a lot worse.

    I grew up in 2 very nice communities – both had rashes of break-ins. And a historical aside: my own mother, in 1976, at Yonge and Lawrence in our old store, was held up at knife point. Crime finds opportunity. In a very nice area. 42 years ago. When we were ‘Toronto the Good’…. just saying.

  5. I have worked in Weston for the past 10 years. I often work late at night and have never once felt unsafe on the streets of Weston.
    Friends of mine from outside the community often meet me for lunch at P & M, Zeal or Chicken Jerk King and marvel at the super friendly vibe on the street and in the stores. None have ever mentioned feeling unsafe in the area.
    A teacher friend of mine who lives at St. Clair and Bathurst dropped by my office the other day and when he was leaving told me he was going to buy school supplies at this great little book store he found the last time he visited me. He was speaking of Squibbs and my heart leapt out of my chest with joy. An outsider was seeing the gems in our midst that we sometimes overlook while we’re busy Weston bashing.
    It’s up to all of us to change the narrative and we can do that by supporting our Weston Village businesses, enjoying our parks and waterfront and supporting the multitude of community events held in the village each year. And most importantly, let’s stop looking back. Change is a constant and over the past two years and the upcoming 5 years, we are so fortunate to have so many new and exciting developments coming into the area. Let’s celebrate the good fortune that has been laid at our door and work together to put Weston back on the map as a great place to live, work, shop and play.

  6. Thank you both for speaking up so eloquently! Weston is what we make it, and we can be welcoming or we can circle the wagons and build walls. And we have so many advantages, as Roy points out.

    Moving will not solve the problems; staying and committing to improving our shared spaces definitely will.

  7. Damn. Maureen beat me to it. I value the opinion of both sides. Such optimism from the dedicated few Anglos left in the neighbourhood. Roy please do not compare Italian immigrants with the current crop in Weston. The Italians came here worked hard in residential construction trade, built little communities that pleasantly resembled their home of origin. I drive by Weston and Lawrence in the middle of any weekday and I see alot if welfare collectors. “Little Italy” is great! Resembles Italy and has shops run by people with western values. I’ve never been to Somolia or Saudi Arabia but here’s hoping the Little Somalia or Little SA happening at Weston/Lawrence will be all the rave!

    Oh ya, regarding the rent at the new buildings there I hope it’s as much as a condo! The higher the better. Bring in the yuppies that transformed Queen West, King West, and Roncesvalles. We have enough “affordable rent” buildings surrounding Weston Village.

    1. Why are people trying to convince themselves that 22 John St is ‘only’ affordable housing? The building is a standard market-rental with less than 15% geared to income. The artists lofts on the backside of 33 King are also geared to income and only vetted artists will live there. This city needs purpose built rentals – we haven’t built any in about 30 years. Weston will be a destination for people looking for a decent rental with amenities and close to higher order transit.

      We are NOT getting another TCHC building with 22 John. People need to stop spreading misinformation- it’s counterproductive.

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