Homes in The Annex surged in growth in between 1880-1930 and feature such architectural styles as Victorian, Queen Anne, Richardsonian, and Romanesque. The serene residential area is full of three-storey stately mansions with flourishing details that make them seem even grander. Situated on tree-canopied one-way streets, many of the once multi-unit houses are being converted back into single family homes. Most of the Casa Loma neighbourhood homes were built between 1905 and 1940, and the housing stock includes a mix of large Tudor, Georgian, Edwardian, and English Cottage style homes, as well as some luxury condo high rises along Avenue Road and townhomes on Spadina Road.
The Annex and Casa Loma neighbourhoods are served by many fine public and private schools including the Catholic De La Salle College and St. Michael’s College, an all-boys prep school. For higher education, the George Brown College campus is located in Casa Loma and the University of Toronto in The Annex.
The Gothic Revival style Casa Loma is filled with secret passageways, breathtaking towers, an 800-foot tunnel and opulent furnishings and is one of Toronto’s major tourist attractions. The castle’s surrounding five acres boasts numerous sculptures, fountains, and a Secret Garden; while the wooded hillside showcases wildflowers, ferns, and decorative grasses. In addition, Spadina House, older than Casa Loma, was built in 1866 and is a city-owned historic museum. Extensively renovated in 2010, visitors tour the facility viewing original décor and artifacts and explore the restored 1905 gardens. Lectures, workshops, special events, and school field trips are also hosted at the venue.
The Casa Loma neighbourhood is bisected by the Beltline Trail in the Nordheimer Ravine, a forest of mature oak and maple trees which links to the foot of the Allen Expressway and then back again to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Sir Winston Churchill Park is the community’s largest park with ten tennis courts, a playground, long running track, and wooded scrublands connected to the Beltline Trail. The Annex neighbourhood offers local attractions too numerous to list, however, among the most notable are the Bata Shoe Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Annex Theatre and the adjacent Randolph Theatre (formerly Bathurst Street Theatre) which is a landmark roadhouse for original Canadian theatre. Held in and around the Annex in summer, the Toronto Fringe Festival is one of the city’s cultural highlights, featuring comedy, drama, dance, and a range of other independent productions.
The Annex provides public transit options with several subway stations and bus routes servicing the area. Although drivers will be able to access the downtown core in less than five minutes, commuter highways are at least a 25-minute drive. The Casa Loma neighbourhood features bus service on Bathurst Street, streetcars on St. Clair Avenue West, and subway access at the Dupont and St. Clair West Stations. Just a short drive to Toronto’s financial hub, commuters also enjoy easy access to downtown via the 400 and 401.
Bloor Street is a shopping mecca in The Annex neighbourhood, home to an array of restaurants, outdoor cafes, clothing boutiques, bookstores and even one of the city’s last independent movie theatres, the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (formerly Bloor Cinema), which is over one hundred years old. Many of the area’s venues are aimed at the university student demographic from which it draws its energy–young, multicultural, health-conscious, and eco-friendly. Although people from all over the city and from all walks of life converge upon its restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the evenings. Casa Loma residents find most of their household and personal needs at the Bathurst and St. Clair shopping district. While, Spadina Road in Forest Hill Village is where they go for gourmet dining and boutique shopping, Avenue and Davenport for flowers, and the Bloor-Yorkville shopping district which caters to the high-end needs of upscale consumers.
Based in a quaint house with a romantic garden patio and old-world charm, Fieramosca serves superb traditional Italian cuisine lovingly presented like you are family. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will be delighted at Fat Pasha, a unique take on Middle Eastern and European Jewish fare in a funky hipster setting. Be sure to save room for their decadent homemade Israeli jelly doughnuts. Playa Cabana is a cozy hidden gem offering authentic Mexican dishes featuring sauces bursting with a medley of flavours. With food rivalling Michelin award winners, L’Unita gives gourmands a taste of Italian comfort food served without pretence.