When approaching the neighbourhood of Wallace Emerson it is hard for one to ignore the neon lights of Club Paradise illuminating a Buddhist temple that sits across the street. Slowing my walk to a creep to ensure 100% memory absorption, I realized that this antithetical matching does indeed lie within the boundary of the particular neighbourhood I was seeking out. Wallace Emerson immediately struck me as a neighbourhood of opposites and I was eager to explore the rest of the area to see if the residential portions lived up to what I had found on Bloor Street West (check out Realosophy's Wallace Emerson Neighbourhood Profile for local housing and school stats).
What some have called ‘run down’ and ‘shabby’, others consider ‘old-city charming’ and ‘Toronto’s living
history’. Older retail establishments with apartments above live the eastern portion of Bloor St. West. Proceeding into the neighbourhood along busy Lansdowne Avenue, the element of opposites rises again with the combination of industry and residential. Both are aged but remain functional and give Wallace Emerson the ‘old-city charm’ characteristic as opposed to the ‘shabby’ one.
Two-storey homes of semi and fully detached genres dominate this area. Tall and narrow, some have been rebuilt, but generally stayed true to the neighbourhood design. Contrasting these larger domains, smaller two-storey homes nestle in between their larger counterparts, continuing the opposition. Multi-unit housing does exist in the form of mid-rise apartment buildings along Lansdowne as well as in homes that have been converted into duplexes. Walk-out basements also allude to some residents having downstairs tenants.
I could not find any significance to the name of this neighbourhood other than that it was probably taken
from the cross streets that lie at its centre. Searching for a founding family that would have left their legacy to the land they once owned, as in the case of Hoggs Hollow and Fairbank proved fruitless. However, another legacy is being created within Wallace Emerson as it is one of the few Toronto neighbourhoods to have a BMX park. Placed on top of the ice rink throughout the summer, the ramps burned down in May of 2008 and were rebuilt within a few months with the help of Crime Stoppers and community funding and volunteers of all ages. The opposition of this neighbourhood is once again apparent when ‘old Toronto’ is home to the growing sport of BMX.
Jesse Fleming is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Email Jesse
September 3, 2008Neighbourhood |