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Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Legendary Pastoral wonderland in YORK U

You will never know York U has such amazing pastoral wonderland in the area

You won’t find these neighbourhoods on tote bags in boutique shops. You can’t buy maps of their streets woven into pillowcases. They aren’t on Vogue magazine’s “coolest” neighbourhood lists. At least not yet. These are some of Toronto and the GTA’s most underrated blocks, where homes often still sell for under $1 million, where tourists don’t always wander, but where Torontonians can find plenty to satiate their inner urban explorer.

Where: The south side of Steeles Ave. down to Finch Ave. W., west of Keele St. and east of Jane St., with a bite taken out of the south-west corner of the square—Black Creek Parkland is in the area we’re looking at, but immediately south of Shoreham Dr. is not. Give or take a few roads or parks!

When: Excavations show Huron-Wendat villages were only a little bit north of this area in the 1450s. The Black Creek Pioneer Village in the north-west corner is a preserved and recreated town depicting what life in the area was like for some people in the 1860s. As part of North York, it was a township in 1922, then a borough in 1967, and finally part of the City of North York in 1979 before the 1998 amalgamation that brought it into Toronto. York University—whose Keele campus largely defines the area—was founded in 1959.


What: A spread out area dominated mostly by campus buildings clustered closely at the core and radiating outwards among residential houses, strip malls and highways hemming in unexpected patches of green spaces and trails, such as the Black Creek Parkland trail. There’s a notable amount of sports stadiums clustered in the north-west corner, such as the York Lions Stadium and the Aviva Centre. Apart from York University, there’s also the Seneca@York campus to complete the college atmosphere.


Who: Notable graduates of York University, include actress Rachel McAdams, who studied theatre at York; Toronto mayor John Tory (who studied at the affiliated Osgoode Hall Law School, which moved to the Keele campus area in 1969); Michael Redhill, award-winning poet, playwright and novelist; Lily Singh, YouTube creator and artist; and the late Jack Layton, former leader of the NDP, who got his Master of Arts in Political Science through York.


If you’re not getting a degree through York or Seneca though, you may not have taken the time to explore the area. Those who live downtown often have the perception that northern parts of the city contain nothing but bleak, concrete commercial buildings and highways—that they’re places you move through on the way to somewhere else, not places you visit. Here’s the why of visiting the York University area to eat, drink, pamper and find a little bit of whimsy.



Black Creek Community Farm

4929 Jane St.


The best way to take care of yourself isn’t always to get a new haircut, or a fresh nail varnish—sometimes, it’s to get your hands dirty. Reconnecting with nature has “a huge improvement on your mental health,” said Leticia Deawuo. The 35-year-old is the director of the Black Creek Community Farm, an innovative urban agriculture project started in 2013 on Jane St.


A colourful mural welcomes visitors who can wander through an array of gardens and down a food forest trail, peer into greenhouses and pallets made to house bees, and shop for fresh produce at the farm store. There’s a dizzying number of ways for the community and outside visitors to get involved: educational programs for schools, youth involvement programs, a seniors garden so popular there’s a waitlist, an outdoor oven free to use every second Saturday of the warm weather months, the opportunity to volunteer at the farm, or to get a plot of your own land at no cost to grow food on (Deawuo said while that detail isn’t on their website, there’s a form you can get in person to apply for it).


According to the Star’s neighbourhood map, this farm is still in the same neighbourhood as the York University area, but those who work and volunteer there consider themselves part of the Jane-Finch area. The farm aims to increase food security for residents in that community, Deawuo said, and they have special prices for low-income families and also give some of the harvest to food banks. Deawuo has lived in the Jane-Finch area for the past 23 years, and said she was drawn to the project by a desire to give back to the community.


Honestly, I believe the farm is like a real hidden gem in the city of Toronto,” Deawuo said. She wants people to know that there are beautiful aspects about her community, such as the farm. “And we’re right at the Pioneer Village station now, so I don’t think downtowners have an excuse anymore.


One highlight is in the idea that the farm is a farm park, and you can come and you can hang out under the trees and just relax. It’s a way you can comfort yourself.”



North York Allotment Gardens

20 Four Winds Dr.


I couldn’t leave it at just one gardening experience, not when the best thing I found about the area was all the unexpected green space!


There’s a wide ribbon of green grass in North York, stretching out east to west for kilometres, and all along it are pairs of hulking transmission towers, standing side by side like soldiers in a long line. Walk far enough west down Four Winds Dr. alongside this field, and suddenly the grass gives way to 245 squares of boxed off gardens, flowering under the shadow of the power lines. It’s the location of the second largest of the allotment gardens across Toronto. Allotment gardens are areas in the city where you can rent a patch of land for $79.55 annually (for the outdoor gardens—there is one greenhouse location, which costs more) and cultivate your own plants. In 2013, the city adopted the Toronto Agricultural Program, which aimed to expand urban agriculture and promote services like the allotment gardens, but if you hadn’t heard of them before, you’re not alone: although there are 12 allotment gardens in total throughout the city, it’s still something most residents aren’t aware of.


When I wandered off of Four Winds Dr. into the aisles between boxes of corn, sunflowers and tomato plants, I met two people watering a garden. After a brief chat, they told me I should consider renting a plot myself if I was interested. I didn’t catch their names, but as I walked away, I could hear them laughing happily over the sound of the hose. Even if you don’t have the funds to rent, just visiting the gardens was an experience that felt like a strange, magical mix of the urban and the natural. Metal stretching into the sky, roots stretching down into the soil. There’s definitely whimsy to be found in that.

Toronto Starhttps://www.thestar.com/life/2018/09/21/you-might-think-york-u-area-is-boring-suburbs-we-found-a-pastoral-wonderland.html

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