Historic Cabbagetown Colours
Recently we did a piece on Regent Park, which was once part of the neighbourhood of Cabbagetown long ago. While Regent Park was razed for redevelopment, the small community of Cabbagetown decided upon conservation. Today it is a vibrant community running largely along Parliament Street and a designated heritage conservation district. Lauded as the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in all of North America, Cabbagetown is home to many artists, musicians, journalists and writers, as well as professionals, doctors and social workers affiliated with nearby University of Toronto or one of the many hospitals on University Ave.
The History of Cabbagetown
Cabbagetown was once known as the village of Don Vale, just outside of Toronto. The community got its name from the Macedonian and Irish immigrants who first moved to the area beginning in the late 1840s: they were said to be so poor that they grew cabbage in their front yards. In the 1850s, the area consisted of farmland with cottages and vegetable plots.
Don Vale was absorbed into the city of Toronto in the late 19th century, still home to many working-class Irish. Many brick, Victorian style houses were built and the working-class neighbourhood reached its peak of prosperity just before WWI, which is the age of many of the homes.
After the war, the area became impoverished. Many families were forced to take shelter under one roof, and the beautiful brick houses began deteriorating, which lowered the perceived value of the neighbourhood. It was at this point that much of the southern area known as “Cabbagetown” was razed to become what is now known as Regent Park.
In the early 1970s, efforts were made to preserve the area against the urban renewal of Regent Park, which resulted in borders being drawn for the Cabbagetown we know today. A ban was put in place to keep any building higher than 4 storeys from being built, as residents worried for the aesthetic of their community. Gentrification eventually set in, as wealthier residents began restoring the small Victorian row houses and became activists for their community. Several forerunners of the efforts were headed by gay and lesbian residents, leading to the neighbourhood being known as queer friendly. Property values steadily rose.
In the early 2000s, after decades of fighting developers plans to change the landscape, the community was able to convince the City of Toronto to designate Cabbagetown as a heritage conservation district. This allows the area to hold onto its overall appearance, landscapes, and open spaces, and has lead to the beautiful pocket of colour and history we all know and love today.
Cabbagetown Farmer’s Market
Cabbagetown’s Farmer’s Market takes place from June to October, 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Riverdale Park West. Opened in 2001, it was Toronto’s first organic market. It was closed for a short while in 2015 until strong community drive brought it back, wishing to make sustainably sourced food more available to downtown residents.
Cabbagetown is home to many historical eateries, from traditional British pubs like House on Parliament, to posh sushi offerings from Kingyo Izakaya. Gorgeous greenery-filled streets surround you on the patio of The Blake House. Famed café JetFuel Coffee is one of Toronto’s most cherished sources of caffeine.
For how small it is, Cabbagetown is chock full of gorgeous and unique restaurants around every corner to explore.
The Toronto Necropolis
An unorthodox place to visit, but one of the most beautiful. The Toronto Necropolis dates back to the 1850s, making it one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. Stunning Gothic and Victorian architecture is surrounded by a generous amount of greenery, and there are even a few stained glass windows. The Toronto Necropolis is the resting place of many important figures in Canadian history, including Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, and Jack Layton.
Typically happening in early September, the Cabbagetown Festival showcases the community’s best and brightest as locals of all kind take to the streets. Arts and crafts vendors, a myriad of food offerings, entertainment and more are on display for this colourful festival.
Riverdale Park West
This massive park sits on the East side of Cabbagetown. There’s plenty of space to wander while also leaving room for a number of facilities, including two ball diamonds, a cricket pitch, a picnic site, wading pool, pond and dog off-leash area.
That’s all for our look at the wonderful, storied little space called Cabbagetown. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did researching it! If you have any more questions about Cabbagetown, or looking at real estate there, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help!