Bedford Park is often lumped in with its neighbours in the town of North Toronto, which was incorporated in 1890 as the result of an amalgamation between Davisville Village, Eglinton Village and Bedford Park Village. Despite the merger, the old neighbourhood names remain in common use to differentiate the various pockets. Adding to the confusion, Bedford Park is also known as Lawrence Park North, which includes the Teddington Park and Wanless Park neighbourhoods. And the City of Toronto’s neighbourhood definitions place Bedford Park within a still larger neighbourhood, called Bedford Park-Nortown, which goes all the way to Bathurst Street on the west, Highway 401 to the north and Hillhurst Boulevard (just north of Eglinton Avenue) to the south! This larger area encompasses Ledbury Park, which is facing a huge migration of young professionals to the area, causing the classic bungalows that once dominated the area to be replaced by new construction.
For our purposes, the classic, definitive boundaries of the true Bedford Park pocket are Deloraine Avenue to the north (east of Yonge Street, it’s Snowdon Avenue), Lawrence Avenue to the south, Ronan Avenue to the east and Avenue Road to the west. Young families are drawn to this area by the schools, playgrounds, community centre, library and family oriented shopping available at the Yonge Lawrence Village. Residents enjoy close proximity to Wanless Park, with its 5 tennis courts, a basketball court, baseball diamond, tots’ playground and a wading pool. Nearby, the Bedford Park Community Centre is equipped with a gymnasium and indoor pool. Public, private and Catholic schools abound in the neighbourhood, including the highly rated Bedford Park Public School on Ranleigh Avenue.
Conveniently for one-car and ‘green’ families, the Lawrence subway station can be reached by foot by most Bedford Park residents, and the Yonge Street on-ramp to Highway 401 is only a five minute drive away.
Bedford Park began as a farming hamlet north of Toronto and took on the role of a popular stopover for farmers making their way to market in the city. The neighbourhood was probably named after the Bedford Park Hotel, which opened in 1873 at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Fairlawn Avenue, just north of Lawrence.
In 1890 Bedford Park was combined with the hamlets of Davisville and Eglinton to the south, and incorporated as the City of North Toronto. In the same year, the Metropolitan Street Railway of Toronto began servicing the area, encouraging residential growth.
The former Town of Bedford Park post office on Yonge Street, just north of Lawrence, is still a neighbourhood landmark.
Bedford Park has an aesthetically pleasing mix of detached and semi-detached homes built in the half-century period between 1890 and 1940, and newer custom built houses that have replaced many of the original bungalows. Because Bedford Park was originally conceived as a middle class housing development at the northern tip of the city, the original homes were mid-sized. The relocation of the Rosedale Golf Club in 1909 to the area northeast of Bedford Park brought about development of the more exclusive bordering neighbourhoods of Lawrence Park and Teddington Park.
The original bungalows are now dwarfed by new custom infill homes and multi-residential properties which, despite their size, have been designed to blend in with the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. Many of these homes are just steps away from the enormous range of shops and services on Yonge Street, making Bedford Park one of Toronto’s top selling neighborhoods, with average house prices in the $700,000 ++ ballpark.
A typical Bedford Park home recently for lease featured 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, a partially finished basement and 1 car garage. Located only a five minute walk from the Ranleigh entrance of Lawrence subway station, the monthly rent was a very reasonable $1800.
Homes for sale in Bedford Park are a different story. The transformation of the area is nearly complete, but one can still find a tiny bungalow for under $400,000, tear it down, and build a million dollar custom home – like the home that was recently for sale on Cranbrooke Avenue, for $1,180 000. With five bedrooms and four baths, the 3200 square foot home boasted exquisite finishes.
Another popular technique is to make extensive renovations to the larger existing homes.
Inside Bedford Park
Bedford Park’s gorgeous, quiet streets, towering trees, parks, and proximity to the 401 and Lawrence subway station attract people to the neighbourhood who also wish to be close to all the amenities: doctors, places of worship, restaurants, malls, and grocery stores. It is definitely a neighbourhood geared to families with young children – its child-friendly vibe and great education and recreation opportunities make Bedford Park a good place to raise a family.
Yonge Lawrence Village is a family oriented shopping district with a good cross-section of stores. It also features a good selection of coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants. The Avenue Road shopping district, north of Lawrence, has a diverse mix of shops and restaurants including national chain stores like the 24 hour Shoppers Drug Mart, home decorating stores, fast food restaurants, gift stores and gourmet food shops including the recently renovated gourmet grocery purveyor, Pusateri’s Fine Foods. Fine restaurants are springing up in this area that was traditionally lacking in great food – such as Locavore at 1552 Avenue Road, which was featured on Restaurant Makeover in 2008. It offers tasty local fresh fare at reasonable prices ($$).
Wanless Park is the largest park in the neighbourhood. It has five floodlit tennis courts, a basketball court, a baseball diamond, a playground and a wading pool. Wanless Park is close to the Bedford Park Community Centre which includes a gymnasium and an indoor pool. The Woburn parkette, west of Yonge Street, is a popular destination point for neighbourhood parents with toddlers and preschoolers. It features a tots’ playground and a wading pool. A few blocks north of the Woburn Parkette is The Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre, which operates out of the Fairlawn Heights United Church. This centre includes seasonal programming for residents of all ages.
The George Locke Public Library at the south-east corner of Yonge and Lawrence offers year round programs for adults, children, and preschoolers. It’s next door to Lawrence Park and Alexander Muir Gardens – easy to imagine sitting on a bench in one of these bucolic green spaces with a borrowed book, in the warmer months!
The Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre (FNC) is a unique venue offering a broad range of programming, from yoga to fitness to cooking, for all ages, at a low cost. The Centre has become a hub of the Bedford Park community.
Perfect for public transit commuters, the Lawrence subway station off Yonge Street, with its Bedford Park and Ranleigh Avenue exits, is within reasonable walking distance of all the homes in this neighbourhood. There is also regular bus service on Yonge Street, as well as limited service on Avenue Road and Mount Pleasant Road. By car, it is approximately twenty minutes to the downtown core and approximately five minutes to the Yonge Street on-ramp to Highway 401.
Acclaimed schools in the area include Bedford Park Public School, John Wanless Jr., Glenview Sr., and Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute.