For over one hundred years Rosedale has held the distinction of being the city’s most fashionable address, and many of Toronto’s wealthiest and most prominent citizens reside here. Built between 1860 and 1930, many of Rosedale’s large and stately homes are Heritage Properties constructed in Victorian, Georgian, Tudor and Edwardian styles.
Rosedale’s boundaries are the CP railway tracks to the north, Yonge Street to the west, Bloor Street to the south, and Bayview Avenue to the east, with the neighbourhood neatly divided into a north and south portion by the Park Drive Ravine. Along with the natural beauty of the ravines and gorges which pleasantly seclude Rosedale from the rest of the city, there are many recreational opportunities in Rosedale Park, Ramsden Park and Mooredale House, offering outdoor sports, play areas and community programs. Many public and private schools for all ages are situated in the neighbourhood, and residents enjoy a fine selection of upscale shops and restaurants in nearby Summerhill.
Even though Rosedale is situated in the city centre, virtually no vehicular traffic can be heard due to the abundance of trees and foliage that surround the community. The 82 Rosedale is Toronto’s oldest continuous running bus route, running along the neighbourhood’s only main through road (Mount Pleasant Road) as the demand for transit service has remained slight over the years. Rosedale is almost a world apart, while conveniently only a few minutes’ drive from the busy downtown atmosphere of the nation’s largest city.
South Rosedale was first settled by Sheriff William Jarvis and his wife, Mary, in the 1820s. Mary Jarvis, whose frequent walks and horseback rides blazed the trails for Rosedale’s winding streets, named Rosedale as a tribute to the profusion of wild roses that grew on the hillsides of the Jarvis estate. The Jarvis Family eventually sold their beautiful homestead in 1864, which led to the residential development of the area soon after. South Rosedale is currently home to the exclusive all-girls school, Branksome Hall.
North Rosedale’s development began after the construction of a bridge across the Park Drive Ravine, in 1909. Prior to its development, from 1899 to 1924, North Rosedale was the home of St. Andrew’s College, an all-boys boarding school (which has since moved to Aurora) and the Rosedale Golf Club. The golf club’s former lacrosse field is famous for being the site of the first Grey Cup game.
Rosedale is built among three ravines, preserved as parkland. Rosedale Park, which has been in existence for over 120 years, was originally the home of the Toronto Argonauts and is now the venue of the annual spring park party, Mayfair. The lively event, traditionally held on the first Saturday in May, typically consists of rides, games, flea market and other carnival-type activities, and is organized and funded by Mooredale House (which is right across the street from Rosedale Public School, a small elementary school). Located off Sholfield Avenue, Rosedale Park has a sports field, eight tennis courts, a wading pool and an artificial ice rink.
Chorley Park is equally rich with Toronto history. During the Great Depression, the parkland was the location of an elaborate government building, which housed the Lieutenant Governor of the province. The struggling citizens of Ontario resented the overhead that went into its upkeep, and as a result it was closed in 1937. In 1960 the palatial structure was torn down and the land added to the municipal parks system. Today, Chorley Park is a beautiful plot of land that is filled with trails and a beautiful view of the Don River Valley.
Several other parks in the Rosedale/Moore Park area offer a beautiful range of trails, scenery, and opportunities for outdoor activity, such as Craigleigh Gardens, Winston Churchill Park, and Beaumont Park. For family fun, the community centre at 146 Crescent Road offers, for a small annual fee, sports, fitness, arts and music programs for children and adults.
Prestigious public and private schools in the district include the Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, Branksome Hall, Bishop Strachan, and Upper Canada College. Rosedale Presbyterian Church, an important community institution, is celebrating its centennial in 2008.
Walking through Rosedale is like walking through history. The majority of homes in Rosedale were built during the Edwardian boom years, comprising such styles as neo-Georgian, Stockbroker’s Tudor and Edwardian Classical. These magnificent estates maintain their architectural integrity to this day, and range in price from approximately $1 million to $7 million. The area also boasts luxury condominiums, ranging in price from the modest $300K) to the truly decadent (over $2 million). High quality renovations and rebuilding are preserving Rosedale’s past, while some of the newer “monster” homes take centre stage, offering the utmost in comfort for every discriminating taste.
A recent For Sale listing for a Rosedale property is noteworthy, as it provides a snapshot of the exclusive, luxury real estate in the area: the asking price was $5,950,000 for the 7 bedroom, 9 bathroom single family home circa 1905. The listing description promised a blend of elegant architectural design and Old World traditions, meticulously restored and enhanced. The house boasted ten-foot ceilings, expansive bow windows, marble fireplaces, mahogany built-in bookshelves in the library, and features like a conservatory for casual gatherings, a six-piece master ensuite bath with a fireplace and sitting room, and a lower level games room. The opulence continued outdoors with the enclosed garden house, pool, waterfall and hot tub.
Rosedale remains a haven for the “old moneyed” elite. Real estate in Rosedale is at such a premium that buyers are willing to spend a million dollars on a home only to tear it down to build a custom mansion. There are currently fewer than a thousand residential properties in North Rosedale, with more than half of that stock bearing a historical designation. If North Rosedale succeeds in being named a historical district, it will be very difficult to construct new homes, which is expected to drive housing prices up even further.