Bloor West Village typifies why Toronto is known as a city of neighbourhoods: far from the central core, the neighbourhood has a small town feel complete with a busy main street, Bloor, that has just the right mix of services and shops. It’s also a very family oriented neighbourhood and the strollers will be out in force by day.
The neighbourhood is bookended by High Park in the east and the Humber Valley in the west where riverside trails lead south to the lake or north through the wooded ravine. The residential areas to the north and south have a solid stock of early twentieth century housing, and more recently condo developments along its western shoulder.
Bordered roughly by Bloor Street on the south, Jane Street on the west, Dundas Street West and the CP railroad on the north and Runnymede Road on the east, Runnymede-Bloor West Village first began in the 1800s, on the estate of John Scarlett, who named his cottage-styled house Runnymede, built in 1838 on what is today the intersection of Runnymede and Dundas. Although the area was quickly planned for development, residential construction didn’t begin until the early 1900s.
The area got a huge boost with the development of the Bloor streetcar line in the 1920s, and with the constructon of the Bloor subway in the 1960s.
Today, the neighbourhood is anchored by the Bloor west business strip. While the area has its share of large stores, it is also home to hundreds of smaller, independent businesses, including boutiques, specialty clothing stores, bookstores, and many esteemed restaurants and cafes. The Bloor West strip is also widely credited with forming the world’s first Business Improvement Area in 1970, an idea that has since been widely adopted by other neighbourhoods in Toronto and around the world.