Leslieville, after many years of playing the role of little brother to more developed Riverside, has emerged as Toronto's hippest place to dine, drink, shop and live, or so proclaimed a 2005 article in the New York Times that also anointed the neighbourhood as the new Queen Street West. Historically home to light industry and the Film District, it's now more known as one of Toronto's best brunch destinations and features some great cafes, vintage furniture, fashion and design stores.
Leslieville was a small village in the 1850s, which grew up around the Toronto Nurseries, which resulted in many of its original inhabitants being gardeners. As time passed, there were also a number of other industries flourishing in Leslieville, such as brick-making, metal processing, and tanning industries.
Eventually, Leslieville moved away from industrial work, and the original factory workers moved as well. With the dust settling on the pollution of industry, a more middle-class population with a focus on creativity took to the land.
A variety of new restaurants began to dot the streets and condos eventually rose from a few of the older buildings. Despite its new, up and coming neighbourhood feel, Leslieville is still populated by mostly middle and working-class citizens.
Today, Leslieville is a hub for Canada’s film industry, and it’s not uncommon to see film crews clustered along the side of a street on any given day. There are several notable condo developments crawling up to eventually boost the population, and new dining experiences appear regularly down Gerrard Street.
Leslieville borders East Chinatown, a small area down the edge of Broadview and Gerrard sporting traditional Asian supermarkets mixed with newer storefronts. At its west end, you’ll find Little India, Gerrard’s home for all markets, foods and textiles from South Asia. Nestled between, Leslieville proper is a home for a whole host of hip bars and trendy eateries. For the more day-to-day necessities, visit Gerrard Square Mall, and if you need groceries on the cheap there’s always the No Frills at Carlaw. Due to the diverse nature of the area’s population, you’ll find all sorts of ethnic treats carried even at this chain grocery store.