This neighbourhood, north of the Beaches, spans the area above Kingston Road, from Coxwell to Victoria Park to the train track, south of Danforth. Up until the early 2000s, the area was almost like real estate no man’s land and referred to in hush tones by the residents as part of the Beaches but not without an eye roll by anyone south of Kingston Road. So real estate agents began marketing the neighbourhood as “Upper Beaches” which made everyone happy and real estate prices rise steadily. Most of the houses here are a mixture of older semi-detached and detached single family homes, along with pockets of newer construction townhouses along Kingston Road and throughout the neighbourhood. Great schools and parks make this an ideal area for young families and the buses and streetcar on Kingston Road and Gerrard make for easy commuting to downtown.
Even before the development of the Beaches, this neighbourhood was a postal village called Norway, named after the Norway pine trees which were harvested and the sawmill was on the main industries in the area. Charles Coxwell Small owned most of the land in the early-mid 1800s and the hub of all the town’s activity was at the corner of what is now Kingston Road and Woodbine. The wooden post office was built in 1825 and the steam powered sawmill was established by iron mongers, Wragg and Co in 1835.
Tolls were the bane of travelers along Kingston Road but were a necessary evil to fund the upkeep of the road to the town of Kingston in Upper Canada. But the toll gate at Kingston Road and Woodbine became a happening spot on the stagecoach strip. It was 5 miles away from downtown which was quite a trek back then, so perfect timing for a tavern break. If you build it, they will come. A few inns were also built, a blacksmith shop
and a school. By 1850, the population of Norway was at 100. Charles Coxwell Small donated 3 acres of land for a church to be built which was a wooden structure built in 1850, and in 1853 the cemetery was added and called St. John’s Church, Berkeley. For years he kept trying to name the village Berkeley after his home town in England but nobody listened and the name Norway stuck. So in 1893, when the church was rebuilt in brick, it was renamed St. John’s Cemetery Norway. By 1909, the village of Norway was annexed to the city of Toronto.
The land north of Dundas was once mostly vacant farmland called Midway, which really was no man’s land. In 1876 The Toronto Golf Club took over some of this space between Woodbine and Coxwell. This was the third oldest golf club in Canada and hosted the Canadian Open twice, in 1905 and 1909. As the area grew in population, and the shoddy sewage system caused diseases, the golf course began to feel boxed in so they moved in 1909 to the west end to their current location in Mississauga. This was the same time Midway, like Norway, was annexed to the rest of the city. The sale of the golf club brought in developers by the name of Robin’s Group who called the area Kelvin Park. Along with the development of land the railroad along Gerrard being built (which is the current street car tracks), and this area was perfect for working class families, less expensive than the Beaches and with a view of the lake. As the railway got built, community expansion followed to the east end toward Victoria Park. Some of the tiny semi-detached bungalows south of Gerrard west of the Ted Reeves Arena, that Upper Beaches were once built for the railroad workers still exist, most of them renovated for a “condo-
like without the condo fees.” That what we call smart hockey marketing.
The Upper Beaches of today is a great neighbourhood to live, quite diverse in character but always warm and friendly. There are tony little pockets with large stately homes off of Main Street, on Lyall, Glen Oak, Benlamond, overlooking the ravine with a view of the city and lake. Tucked away at the bottom of the ravine, north of Kingston Road at Brookmount, are the cosy streets of Glen Davis and Love Crescent. Independent shops and restaurants along Kingston Road east of Main give the area charm and a village-
like feel. The hilly streets (once the golf course) north of the cemetery west of Woodbine have fun with generations of neighbours making a sport of sitting on their front porches watching kids play hoop and grownups chase after the balls that roll downhill. Some things are classic.