Roncesvalles a Historic District in Toronto

Integrated into Toronto in the late 19th century, Roncesvalles is a historic district on Roncesvalles Avenue, from the intersection of King and Queen Streets to the south, north to Dundas Street West with a significant Polish community. This pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is served by the TTC streetcars. Miles of trails are also available at the lush High Park, one of the city's premier green spaces. Click to book your Toronto City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.

Polish Culture

Roncesvalles in Toronto
Roncesvalles a historic district in Toronto
The Roncesvalles Polish Festival is one of the largest ethnic-themed events in the Greater Toronto Area. This annual festival reflects the significant Polish population in the city and the surrounding communities. More than 40 food vendors and dozens of other retailers participate in the celebrations. Music concerts and other shows are held at the Main, Polkamania and Copernicus stages. The Beverage Gardens serves signature beer imported from Poland. Some other features of the Polish Festival include the Art Zone, Art Walk, Busker Zones and Family Zones. The European Classic Car Display includes a collection of vintage automobiles, especially models that were popular in Poland decades ago. Besides getting support from small local businesses, the Polish Festival is partially funded by corporate partners, such as Scotiabank and LOT Polish Airlines. You can also enjoy authentic Polish food and drinks daily in the heart of Roncesvalles. The district is home to numerous grocery stores, restaurants, cafes and bakeries that specialize in traditional items, including kielbasa, pickles, dumplings and gingerbread. For example, Zywiec beer is readily available at the stores that cater to the Polish-speaking community. The neighborhood is also home to several Roman Catholic churches that accommodate the local Polish enclave. Established in 1914, the St. Vincent's de Paul Church is perhaps the most notable religious landmark in the district. Featuring Greek Revival columns and other classic installations on the facade, this historic venue is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Toronto. Founded in the middle of the 1940s, St. Casimir's Church is another place of worship that's important to the local Polish community. Born and raised in Poland, Pope John Paul II visited the neighborhood in 1984. Today, a statue of this beloved pope stands in the heart of the district.

Recreation and Activities

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Roncesvalles occupies dozens of blocks along the eastern section of High Park, an urban green space with nearly 400 acres. A nature center, outdoor tennis courts and ball fields are some of the notable recreational facilities at this municipal park. Families also love to visit the High Park Zoo, which originally opened in the early 20th century. After admiring exotic animals and barn pets, visitors could take a stroll around the Grenadier Pond, which is home to a variety of wild birds and other interesting creatures. The Grenadier Cafe is the ideal venue for lunch and dinner after an exciting day at High Park. Click to book your Toronto City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.

Visiting Roncesvalles

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) 504 streetcar runs along Roncesvalles Avenue during the day. At night, limited streetcar service on the avenue is provided by the 304 line. The 505 and 306 streetcars also stop near the corner of the avenue and Dundas Street West. Additionally, the Dundas West subway station is located only a few blocks north of the historic neighborhood. This underground rail station is one of more than 30 stops along the Bloor-Danforth Line. The Bloor GO station is another major rail hub that's within walking distance of the community. Featuring multiple outdoor platforms, this stop is served by the Kitchener commuter trains and Union Pearson Express trains. The UP Express line runs between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station in the city's downtown area. Parallel parking spots are limited on Roncesvalles Avenue, which has a relatively narrow layout with a significant portion dedicated to streetcar tracks. However, bicycle lanes are open on the northbound and southbound sides of the avenue.
By: Denise Marie
Published On: 2019-08-02
Updated On: 2019-08-02

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