While touring Cabbagetown, which is now one of Toronto’s most sought-after areas, you will likely not see any real cabbages, (maybe “decorative cabbages” planted in the Fall…). In fact, the name “Cabbagetown” was coined in the 19th century to demean the area’s poor early inhabitants, mostly Irish immigrants, who had fled the Potato Famine and who grew vegetables (mostly cabbages) on their front lawns.
The area peaked in the late 19th century when most of the houses you see today were built. WW1, the Great Depression, and WW2 saw Cabbagetown nose dive and become a slum, forgotten by city planners. Then, in the late 1970s, smart realtors saw the potential of this stock of largely untouched sturdy Victorian homes. Cabbagetown was reborn and is now one of the most sought-after areas of Toronto with its beautiful streetscape and “historical” feel.
Cabbagetown’s main street, Parliament Street, continues to evolve and offers some of Toronto’s most notable cafés, restaurants and pubs serving everything from Italian, Thai, Indian to Mexican and so much more! Added to the mix are great shops and service providers often greeting you by name. One of the many highlights of Parliament Street is found just south of Wellesley where some of the city’s best Sri Lankan grocers join our wide variety of offerings. As a whole, Parliament Street manages to capture the feeling of a small town’s Main Street tucked away in the heart of big city Toronto.
A visit to this special area would not be complete without going to Riverdale Farm (yes, a real working farm downtown Toronto) and its two heritage cemeteries, St. James and the Necropolis. They both opened in the mid-19th century and are the final resting place of many great Canadians. These two cemeteries are ideal for a walk in quiet contemplation. A handful of parks also pepper the area including Riverdale Park West, the largest in downtown Toronto, just next to Riverdale Farm and opening up into one of Toronto’s gems: the valley of the Don River and its bicycle and walking paths.
Various events and activities throughout the year also make Cabbagetown a great destination: Forsythia Festival, Hidden Gardens & Private Spaces (garden tour), Walking Tours, Cabbagetown Festival, Arts & Crafts Festival, Short Film Festival, Pumpkin Walk, and more.
Websites: cabbagetownto.com, cabbagetownpa.ca