In east Scarborough, you won’t find anything like the strip of Bloor that runs through the Kingsway in Toronto’s west end—nor anything like its access to the subway—but West Hill does offer a slice of small-town streetscape at Old Kingston Road, where a mural depicts the history of Highland Creek, which borders the neighbourhood. In a part of town where driving is the norm, it makes you want to park and walk around for a few minutes.
The favourable comparison with The Kingsway (at less than half the price) becomes less of a stretch on the residential streets, which offer similar large, detached homes (many of them ranch-style bungalows) on wide, wooded lots.
Bordered by parkland on all sides, West Hill is home to top-notch recreational facilities, including a hockey arena, tennis courts, and indoor and outdoor pools. University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus is on the northern edge of the ’hood, and the historical architecture of Guildwood Village is on the western edge. In between, in the admittedly unattractive plazas on Lawrence, you can find some excellent Caribbean, Chinese and Middle Eastern restaurants served by mom-and-pop gourmets.
It’s not quite Pickering but it’s darn close. West Hill sits near Port Union at the city’s easternmost boundary line, just north of the lake.
West: Scarborough Golf Club Road; East: Military Trail; North: Ellesmere Road; South: East of Morningside, south to Lake Ontario.
Getting to the 401 will require an eight to 10-minute trip depending on traffic, and you can zip downtown on GO’s Lakeshore East line from Guildwood Station.
Time to Union Station (All times are approximate)
32 minutes by car
1 hour and 26 minutes by bus-subway combo
27 minutes by GO Train from Guildwood Station
West Hill borders Scarborough’s Highland Creek, an area teeming with forests and undeveloped greenery. To the north, Morningside Park offers residents lots of picnic space and opportunities to play “spot the deer,” courtesy of its wildlife and foot trails that connect to the Waterfront Trail on Lake Ontario. Highland Creek Park bookends the neighbourhood to the south.
Heron Park Community Recreation Centre is West Hill’s major hub for leisure activities. Outside, a ball diamond and a large pool attract families and athletes in the warmer months; inside, a gym and two indoor rinks provide ample programming facilities. The centre also offers drop-in programs like ballroom- and line-dancing, table tennis and “progressive euchre.” Programs requiring registration include sports, arts and dance for young children and fitness classes (including yoga and tai-chi) for older folks.
There is plenty to choose from, academically speaking, in West Hill. George B. Little, St. Margaret’s, Heron Park, Peter Secor, Joseph Brant, Galloway Road and West Hill are just a few of the elementary offerings from the public board, along with St. Malachy on the Catholic side. West Hill Collegiate Institute is the central secondary public option and Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary sits just north of Ellesmere Road. Nearby post-secondary options include Centennial College to the northwest and the University of Toronto’s satellite Scarborough campus to the northeast.
Highest ranked elementary school
George B. Little Public School (6.8/10)
Highest ranked high school
Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School (5.3/10)
Situated at the base of nearby Highland Creek Park, Cedar Ridge Creative Centre was built as a family home in 1912. It houses the Cedar Ridge Gallery, which hosts innovative art exhibitions. On-site studio space is used for all-ages creative programming, including a popular children’s fine-art camp and workshops on pottery, sculpture and watercolours for the older folks. History buffs can visit the Scarborough Historical Museum, a 10-minute drive west.
Ranked the 127th safest out of 140 Toronto neighbourhoods.
WHAT’S THE CATCH?
There isn’t much for a pedestrian to love about West Hill. Once you get to the parks and landmarks, a walk around is lovely, but the distances involved mean it’s an impractical way to get around.
GOOD TO KNOW
Former MuchMusic personality and CBC-Radio head Denise Donlon and Toronto’s favourite mysterious musical son, The Weeknd, are alumni of West Hill CI. Indy driver Paul Tracy’s nickname is “The Thrill from West Hill.”
63 Shoreview Dr.
Draw: Built in 1965, this four-level side-split has been remarkably well-maintained with new windows, a deck and fresh paint recently added. A large front porch and fenced-in lot—listen up, dog owners—surround the exterior.
Catch: The original hardwood flooring and kitchen could use a modern touch.
48 Orton Park Rd.
Draw: This three-bed, three-bath detached home sits on a large, mature lot and lists a newly-renovated main bathroom, hardwood floors and proximity to Highland Creek Park as selling points.
Catch: The kitchen skews a bit small and you’d have to rent the furnace for $50 per month.
113 Cultra Sq.
Price: sold for $368,000
Draw: This is a great opportunity for Brady Bunch/minivan-sized families with a high bedroom to bathroom ratio (4:3), air conditioning and close proximity to schools.
Catch: The exterior looks a little tired; a bit of landscaping and new accent paint might enhance the view.
WHAT THE NEIGHBOURS SAY
Cassandra Louis, 38, Stay-at-home mom
How long have you lived in West Hill?
Why did you move here?
“There were lots of shootings in my old neighbourhood. There’s less crime here; it’s a nicer area. It was a safety decision.”
Why is West Hill so livable?
“Everything you need is here. Stores, pharmacies, Tim Hortons—which is always important. You don’t need to travel anywhere.”
What’s your favourite thing about the neighbourhood?
“The park behind Morningside Library is nice. There’s a pool there as well.”
How is the neighbourhood changing?
“Not much has changed other than new businesses. There’s going to be a new Caribbean grocery store opening.”
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