Forest Hill, Toronto


Forest Hill is an affluent neighbourhood in central TorontoOntarioCanada. Along with Lawrence ParkRosedale, and The Bridle Path, it is one of Toronto’s wealthiest neighbourhoods. 


        

History

Forest Hill was originally incorporated as a village in 1923, and later annexed by the City of Toronto in 1967, along with the Village of Swansea. The village was named after the summer home of John Wickson; previously it had been known as Spadina Heights (a name that continued to be applied to the neighbourhood into the twentieth century). Spadina Heights is a derivative of the First Nations (namely Ojibwe) word ishapadenah, meaning a hill or sudden rise in land. Rather than electing a mayor as in a city, the leading municipal official was the reeve of the village.

Prior to World War II, Forest Hill's population was predominantly made up of wealthy Anglo-Protestants. During the 1940s and 1950s, many upwardly mobile members of the Jewish community moved from the Spadina area of Toronto into Forest Hill. Forest Hill has a number of businesses catering to the Jewish community along Eglinton Avenue West. Today, individuals of Jewish heritage make up almost a third of the population of Forest Hill, according to the 2001 census[citation needed].

In the late 1960s, the City of Toronto planned to construct a highway that would run from Highway 401 to downtown Toronto via the Cedarvale Ravine and Spadina Road. Forest Hill and the Annex would be bisected by the proposed route and numerous local houses would be sacrificed for the new expressway. This prompted local residents to rise to protest and raise the awareness of the greater public. The provincial government was forced to withdraw its support for the so-called Spadina Expressway in 1971.

When the neighbourhood was annexed by the City of Toronto, the annexation agreement granted local residents the right to have their garbage picked up from their doorstep rather than from the curb. It wasn't until 1993 that the public learned that this extra service cost $420,000 a year and was paid for by the municipal government. This time, the public opinion of other Torontonians forced the city to discontinue this favour to Forest Hill residents.[2]

The neighbourhood's original boundaries were Bathurst Street to the west, Upper Canada College to the east, Eglinton Avenue to the north, and Lonsdale Road and a portion of Montclair Avenue to the south (the original boundaries of School Section 30). Neighbourhoods north of Eglinton are sometimes though not unanimously regarded as Forest Hill. In 1999 Robert Fulford compared Forest Hill to Rosedale, the other traditional home of Toronto's elite: "While Rosedale has remained stable for half a century, Forest Hill's prestige has been growing steadily. There's a key tonal difference in the architecture of the two places: where big Rosedale houses shout 'history,' big Forest Hill houses shout 'grandeur.' More than any other district in the central city, Forest Hill has become the site of spectacular new 'neo-traditional' homes built on a grand scale, usually with lawns to match."[3]



Currently, for the purposes of social policy analysis & research, the city of Toronto’s Social Development & Administration division divides Forest Hill into two neighbourhoods: Forest Hill North and Forest Hill South.

Forest Hill Village is a part of Forest Hill occupying most of the original area of the village. The Village extends roughly from Briar Hill Avenue in the north (the Upper Village, officially part of Forest Hill North) to Heath Street in the south (the Lower Village, officially the major part of Forest Hill South along Spadina Road between Bathurst Street/Cedarvale Ravine (whichever is further east) and Avenue Road. The designations Upper and Lower are based on height of land and not on positions on a map or along a watercourse.

The Lower Village was completely developed by the 1930s[2] and is known for its upscale shopping and dining, although the actual mix of stores includes several modest enterprises. The Lower Village has attracted extensive residential development (especially of apartments), both within the original boundaries of Forest Hill and in adjacent neighbourhoods to which developers have now extended the Village and Forest Hill names.

The Upper Village was slower to develop due to the fact it had previously been occupied by the old Belt Line Railway, and then by industry.[4] Its houses were built mostly in the 1940s and 50's. Many homes have been, or are being significantly renovated, with some being torn down completely to make way for monster 'neo-classical' homes.[2]