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The Annex - Past
European settlement of this area began in the 1790s when surveyors laid out York Township. The area east of Brunswick Avenue became part of the village of Yorkville, while the region west of Brunswick was part of Seaton Village. In 1883, Yorkville agreed to annexation with the City of Toronto. In 1886, Simeon Janes, a developer, created a subdivision which he called the Toronto Annex.
During the 1950s and 1960s, an influx of Hungarian immigrants moved into the neighbourhood after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was suppressed, and many of the businesses and properties along Bloor are owned by Hungarian-Canadian families.
Annex - Present
The 'traditional' boundaries of the neighbourhood are north from Bloor to Dupont, west to Bathurst, and east to Avenue Road. The City of Toronto defines a broader Annex neighbourhood, with official boundaries of north from Bloor Street, extending west to Christie Street, north to the CNR/CPR railway tracks, and east to Yonge Street.This includes the areas of "Seaton Village" or "West Annex" to the west of Bathurst and "Yorkville" to the east of Avenue Road.
It is an affluent neighbourhood with well-educated residents and it borders the University of Toronto. The Annex has traditionally been home to many of the university's faculty, as well as housing the university's student body. The Annex is in the political riding of Trinity--Spadina, which is represented both provincially and federally by the New Democratic Party.
Homes in the Annex
The Annex is a mainly residential area, with quiet, tree lined one-way streets lined with beautiful Victorian and Edwardian homes and mansions, most of them built between 1880 and the early 1900s.
Many of these homes have been converted into buildings that offer multi-tenant apartments. However, the stretch of Bloor Street between St. George and Bathurst is a vibrant social and retail area, offering to Toronto a wide range of services from upscale dining to discount retailers like Honest Ed's. When someone says that they are "going to the Annex," this stretch of Bloor St. is usually what they are referring to.
The Annex is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Toronto in which to rent or own a home. Because of its proximity to the university, it has a high rate of seasonal tenant turnover, and its residents range from university students to long-time residents, including well-established and wealthy families.
The neighbourhood's appeal sometimes results in the stretching of its borders by realtors and residents of surrounding areas. For example, Seaton Village, the architecturally-similar district between Bathurst St. and Christie St., is considered by some to be the "West Annex", although the street signs on that stretch of Bloor call it the Korean Business Area. The area between Bloor and College Street is also sometimes referred to as the "South Annex" (again, most often by realtors).
It is interesting to note that, although the Annex is widely regarded as being peaceful, vibrant, and highly desirable, it is also fairly dense. In fact, if the rest of the geographical Toronto (the official City of Toronto, not including suburban municipalities) was built in a similar manner to the Annex, the entire population of the sprawling GTA (approximately 6 million people) would fit in an area less than one-tenth the size that it does now.
Shopping in the Annex
The Annex 's main shopping district is on Bloor Street. This stretch of stores includes clothing boutiques, bookstores, grocery stores, organic markets, bars, ethnic restaurants, cinemas and outdoor cafes.
The Mirvish Village shopping street on Markham Street, south of Bloor Street, is an interesting mix of restaurants, vintage stores, bars, bookstores and other eclectic shops. The focal point of the Village is the infamous and eye-catching Honest Ed's. You won't find a better bargain or more lights anywhere in the city! Search the Mirvish Village business directory for a complete list of services available in the neighbourhood.
Recreation in the Annex
The Annex area has a host of restaurants, bars and nightclubs that are constantly busy with students, businessmen and artists alike.