The Annex is Toronto’s most heterogenous community. Its residents include successful business people, prominent artists, University of Toronto students and faculty, and people from all walks of life.
This is a vibrant neighbourhood that draws its energy from the University of Toronto, as well as from the bars, restaurants and nightclubs that crowd together along Bloor Street.
Many of the rooming houses and multi-unit homes in the Annex have recently been converted back to single family houses reflecting the return to prominence of this historic Toronto neighbourhood.
The Annex was subdivided in the 1870’s and 1880’s. It immediately became one of Toronto’s elite neighbourhoods.
The Annex’s first residents included the likes of Timothy Eaton, the patriarch of Eatons department store, and George Gooderham, president of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery.
The Annex’s Golden Era lasted until the 1920’s, when the upper classes began to migrate northward to newer more fashionable suburbs in Forest Hill and Lawrence Park.
Those who stayed behind helped form the Annex Residents Association. This powerful lobby group saved the Annex from the proposed Spadina Expressway which would have divided the Annex in half, had it been built.
The Annex has endured and is now over one hundred years old. It remains one of Toronto’s premier neighbourhoods.
The Annex houses, built between 1880 and 1910 are fine examples of Victorian, Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque architectural styles. Plum and pink colored Credit River sandstone, rich red brick, and terra cotta clay tiles, make up the exterior facades of many of these homes.
The architectural detail is among the finest in the city, ranging from pyramidal roofs and turrets to recessed grand archways and wooden spindled porches.
A second wave of Annex homes dates from 1910 to 1930. These homes are less elaborate than their predecessors, but are nonetheless fine examples of English Cottage, Georgian and Tudor style architecture.
The Annex’s main shopping district is on Bloor Street. This stretch of stores includes a hodgepodge of clothing boutiques, bookstores, food markets, travel agencies, restaurants, and outdoor cafes.
The Mirvish Village shopping district on Markham Street, south of Bloor Street, is a quaint collection of bookstores, art galleries, antique stores, and one-of-a-kind specialty stores.
The Annex really comes alive at night when people from all over the city converge upon its restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Fitness enthusiasts can get in shape at either the University of Toronto’s Athletic Centre, or the Jewish Community Centre at Bloor and Spadina.
The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is located in the Annex at 16 Spadina Road. This centre offers a variety of programs and services for Toronto’s Native community as well as the general public.
The Spadina Road Public Library at 10 Spadina Road, offers a wide variety of programming for neighbourhood residents.