Toronto Neighborhood Focus â€“ Earlscourt
The musical, Oliver, portrayed a life lived to the fullest by the residents of the mean streets of old London. This fictitious portrayal of the spirit of the poor of England played itself out, in many ways, in the village of Earlscourt, now a community of Toronto, during the earliest part of the 20th century.
A collection of tar paper shacks, housing the poor British and Scottish labourers in the local factories, were the temporary homes of these immigrants, while they saved to build a proper brick home.
Houses in the area mostly were built between 1910, after Toronto annexed the village, and 1960. However, a few of the older homes still stand as a testament to the hardy, persevering nature of the early settlers. In the 1960s, a significant influx of Italian immigrants contributed other unique elements to the community.
Homes of these hard-working new residents almost inevitably had a cold cellar, and lawns gave way to backyard gardens. Following the arrival of the Italian population, arrivals from Portugal, then Greece, West Indies, India & Mexico contributed to the diversity of the area.
Like the fictitious characters in Oliver, Earlscourt residents know how to celebrate. BrazilFest, held each July in Earlscourt Park, is Canada’s largest Brazilian cultural event. Dusk Dances is another unique event held in Earlscourt, where contemporary and traditional dance is presented in local parks.
Since the influx of the Italian community in the 1960s, Earlscourt has become their cultural and business centre. Corso Italia Shopping Area is the hub of this commercial experience, and has been the filming site of many Hollywood movies. St Clair Gardens, Davenport and Dupont , as well as the nearby Galleria Mall round out the retail & restaurant offerings.
36-acre Earlscourt Park forms the recreation centre of the area, with tennis courts, indoor & outdoor pools, indoor soccer, and a host of other recreation amenities. Yet, there are numerous other parks and playgrounds and wading pools interspersed in Earlscourt.
Ask anyone on Earlscourt for directions, and they will be unable to say, “You can’t get there from here.” Close to downtown, Earlscourt is moments away from the Allen Expressway, next door to a variety of bus routes, and a short bus ride away from three subway stations, or the GO train at Bloor Street.
The numerous schools (7 elementary public schools, 5 Catholic and one public high school), De la Salle College, George Brown College,
St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, and Ryerson University) nearby mean that the area is sure to produce some exceptional alumni. Hon. Madam Justice Silberman Abella (Supreme Court of Canada judge), Hon. Elinor Caplan (former federal cabinet minister) and Vincent del Buono (awarded Nigeria’s top medal of honour) are just a few.
Earlscourt is a storied community that continues to show that life in the area offers a wealth of opportunity, excitement and entertainment.