Named after the continuous stretch of sandy beach that comprises most of its southern border, this vibrant community in East Toronto has a history which dates back prior to our Confederation as a country and as far back as 1793.
Initially subdivided for Lieutenant Governor John Simcoe, the area and its local infrastructure were slowly built up by its initial owners into a cluster of small villages and townships. A major government initiative built a connecting road between York (the name of Toronto at that time) and the Bay of Quinte in Kingston in the 1800s. Kingston Road as it is known today, quickly became the primary and major artery connecting the City of Toronto from the east, (until latter replaced by Hwy 401 in the 1900s), are now represents the northern border of this community.
As the small villages and encampments along the waterfront grew, the area became a popular waterfront destination for many in the 1800s. By the 1870's, The Beach had become the summer destination of choice for residents of Toronto and the surrounding area. Street car service increased access to the area and to the waterfront of Lake Ontario. The villages grew into Towns, and the City of Toronto eventually incorporated them into the City proper. In 1910 to 1920, the local governments began to buy the land that many of the private and commercial recreational areas occupied. Property purchases and renovation work progressed slowly, but in 1932 the Beaches Park opened, and there has been no looking back since. Growth and development in this area has continued and flourished to this date.
The Beach contains a number of historic buildings and or sites that are either designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, or listed in the City of Toronto's inventory of heritage buildings. One of these landmarks includes Dr. William D. Young Memorial. The memorial, located in Kew Gardens, includes a drinking fountain and is dedicated to Dr. William D. Young, a local physician who, in the era before universal health care, had devoted himself to the health and welfare of children of the neighbourhood. Young was stricken with the flu while tending to the sick during an influenza epidemic and died almost penniless due to his voluntary work with the local children.
The Beach Boardwalk is the premier tourist destination of the area. Traversing Kew Beach, Woodbine Beach and Balmy Beach, it is 3.5km long, and has some spectacular scenery of Lake Ontario and local community. There are many parks in it offering picnic tables, bike and roller-blade trails and sandy beaches. Among the most popular parks, Kew Gardens remains one of the most prominent and most visited in the Beach neighbourhood. The park stretches from Queen Street East to the Lakeshore at Kew Beach. The park began as a private 20.7-arcre farm owned by Joseph Williams in the 1850s. As more visitors from the city began visiting the lake front, he transformed his holdings into a tourist destination. In 1879 he setup a large park and built several recreation facilities, tennis courts, picnic areas, boating and swimming facilities. He also built his home on this site which still stands today and is home to the park's caretakers. Today, the park has many more amenities to offer such as a baseball diamond, a wading pool, and a hockey and lacrosse rink just to name a few.
Definitely a very popular tourist destination in Toronto especially during the spring and summer months due to various events and festivals, the Beach is a destination worth exploring. Among some of the famous festivals include Beaches International Jazz Festival that began back in 1989. Celebrating over 26 years, this blossomed into a 10-day event that attracts millions of fans and makes a major contribution to promoting Canadian jazz excellence in Toronto and on the world stage.
You will find more than 390 independent and specialty stores along the commercial district of Queen Street East. The stores along Queen Street are known to change tenants quite often causing streetscapes to change from year to year, and often creating new shopping opportunities for frequent visitors. The community is both warm and engaging for all visitors.
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