WHERE IS MOUNT DENNIS?
The Eglinton Flats, which include the charming Topham Pond, are one of Toronto’s largest park complexes, and the community boasts other parks as well: Westlake, Pearen, Portage Trail, and the historic Denison Cemetery. Mount Dennis is also home to extensive woodland beside the Humber River, and even part of Keelesdale Park in the Black Creek Valley. These green spaces provide great opportunities for healthy walking, as well as more vigorous sports activities.
Mount Dennis is one of Toronto’s most ethnically diverse communities. It had an Anglo-Saxon working class character in the 1800s, became a more ethnically diverse immigrant reception area after 1900, and is now home to people from all over the world. Its housing features a mix of sizes, ages, and styles on almost every street. More than half the residents live in apartment buildings, large and small, many of which enjoy dramatic parkland views.
Few of this area’s homes are more than a hundred years old. As Toronto’s streetcars expanded outwards in the late 1800s, its mills, brickyards, farms and woodlots started giving way to residential neighbourhoods. The first big housing boom followed World War I, after Kodak and other large employers moved into a new industrial zone east of the rail corridor. Kodak closed in 2005, but the area now known as “Black Creek Business District” remains an employment zone, with Toronto’s newest TTC bus garage, Canada Post’s Toronto West distribution centre, and MCM millwork, as well as important social enterprises such as Foodshare and the Learning Enrichment Foundation.
Kodak’s former property is now a construction site for the Mount Dennis Station – terminus of the new Crosstown Eglinton LRT subway line. When it opens in 2021, Mount Dennis Station will be Toronto’s second largest transportation terminal (after Union Station) accommodating GO trains, an Air-Rail express stop and a major bus station. The site will also include a maintenance and storage facility for trains.
Weston Road is Mount Dennis’ main street – an extensive retail strip that grew around the streetcar that once ran on Weston, but has struggled in recent decades against the malls and big box stores. But with the station coming and other positive developments, change is in the air. Beyond its hair salons and corner stores, Weston Road can now boast an award-winning rebuilt Library, an upscale appliance store, an indie coffee shop, a vegan Caribbean restaurant and Nyctophilia, an attention-getting light sculpture. On Eglinton Avenue there is a new Recreation Centre, on Buttonwood Avenue the West Park Hospital complex is undergoing a major redevelopment, and the Portage Trail area, which brought in hundreds of new residents ten years ago, has room for further growth. After years with the “Improvement Area” label, Mount Dennis is now a community where the improvements are increasingly obvious.