Queen West is the hipster design district humming with vintage stores, art galleries, patios and restaurants. Once named Toronto’s coolest neighbourhood by Vogue Magazine, the area offers a distinct mix of contemporary design and local labels, fused into a collection of neighbourhoods along the street.
While the historic street has developed and gentrified over the years thanks to a new breed of retailers, real estate and boutique hotels, there are more hidden gems than meets the eye. Here are 3 things you probably didn’t know about Queen West.
Queen Street wasn’t always Queen Street.
Before it was Queen, it was referred to as Lot Street, named for Toronto’s 100-acre “park lots.” It was the first area lots laid out by the city, and designed to entice the upper class to take up residence. The street was renamed Queen in 1837 after Queen Victoria. We’re quite fond of the name——West Lot West just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Really old buildings.
Like Osgoode Hall, Toronto’s legal building near University and Queen. Constructed around 1832, it’s one of the oldest structures in the city and an example of original Neoclassical-style architecture of the time period. The front facade has remained unaltered since construction, while the interior has kept its original courtrooms, tiling, stain glass windows and oil paintings. There’s also a secret restaurant hidden within the building. Opened only during the lunch hour, the Law Society’s Convocation Hall transforms into a medieval dining room, open to the public. It’s a well-kept secret and worth checking out for the impressive formal dining experience.
The best short cut to Dundas.
The iron gates at Trinity Bellwoods Park serves as the gateway to this incredible 37 acres community park. The entrance starting at Queen and Strachan Avenue spans the entire neighbourhood and is a scenic detour to Dundas by foot or bike. It’s a “short cut” although it will probably take you much longer, bypassing multiple tennis courts, the recreation centre and the off-leash dog park. There’s a discovery walk path highlighting the park’s over 100 year old trees and lush grounds. If you walk straight through to Dundas, it will take you about 10 minutes, but likely, it will take you all afternoon. Here’s an interesting photo history of the park.
Photo via Twitter, @lotstreet
Photo via City of Toronto Archives
Photo via Wikipedia, by Mikerussell