Cities for People: Davisville Village is Toronto’s small town neighbourhood


This is part of a series of posts by students in OCAD’s Cities for People workshop. This post was researched and written by Yaw Asante, Lorene Casiez, Calvin Kuo, Heidi McCulloch, and Alicia Webster. Their psychogeographic map of the Davisville Village is titled “It’s like a small teeny tiny town unto itself.”

Davisville Village, a neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, has a unique small-town feel, contrasted by the big city that surrounds it.  Bordered by four major roads, this feel comes from its houses, residents and history.  Zoned as a “neighbourhood plan” in Toronto’s official plan, Davisville Village will remain untouched by the growing number of high rises and mixed use buildings, ultimately preserving and protecting its original character as it began in the early 1900s.

Davisville Village Mood Board

The houses of Davisville Village were predominantly built in the 1920’s and in the Edwardian and English Cottage styles.  The homes are situated on narrow lots and are in close proximity to one another, but each home has it’s own little yard, which is unique and customized, with painted porches, rope swings and gardens, by each of the residents.  Although the sidewalks are not very wide, the streets become pedestrian walkways and the cars seem to be move through with the knowledge that the people are priority here.

Davisville Village Houses

The people of Davisville Village predominantly fall into one of two major demographic niches: elderly persons or young families.  Many seniors have lived in the neighbourhood and in the same house for thirty to forty years while on the other end young couples/families are moving here or inheriting the homes from family and are just starting out.  It has been quoted that Davisville Village “has the most active storks in the city”.

Davisville Village Demographics

Seniors make up approximately 20% of the population in the Davisville Village. There is a church that has been converted into a seniors residence.  While other seniors have remained in their homes for since the 1940’s, they have seen their neighbours either pass away, move into one of these senior dwellings, or simply leave the neighbouhood.

These factors have facilitated the influx of younger families, which has helped build Davisville Village’s reputation as friendly and family oriented. However, as older neighbours have move out and the pace of life has accelerated, seniors in the area have had difficulty keeping up and building new meaningful relationships with their neighbours. Some seniors we interviewed described these changes in neighbourhood demographics and culture to inadvertently cause feelings of social exclusion.

Davisville Village Elderly Population

In addition to a bubble in the elderly population in Davisville Village, there is another bubble of young families.  The average age in the Village is 40 years old* with about 60% of the population made up of families with children**.

Consequently, the village features a large number of schools for such a small area including Maurice Cody Elementary (in midst of major construction for an extension), Hodgson Junior High, Manor Montessori, Beez Kneez Preschool, The Purple Tree Preschool, Little Tots Preschool as well as two private schools: Sunnybrook for junior grades and Greenwood for senior grades.

Not unrelated, Moms to Be and More, a popular store for expecting or early years parents located at Bayview and Manor, has grown from a small corner shop only 6 years ago to today being Toronto’s biggest baby boutique covering 12,000 square feet of retail space.

Davisville Village Young Families Population

The parkette below is an anomaly to the neighbourhood, as this green space is left fairly untouched or developed.  Originally, made to be a large divider along Belsize Drive, it now acts mainly as a thoroughfare through the neighbourhood.  With only a couple benches scattered amongst the tree-lined park you mainly see people walking their dogs, or young children with their parents walking and learning to ride bicycles.  This mostly untouched space could be a great place to re-connect the village.

Davisville Village Parkette

 *Census 2006, Statcan.
**Estimate only based on Census 2000 data through Realosophy.

One comment

  1. Great piece, but it’s a bit of stretch to call Davisville downtown though.  The City’s own definition would have downtown ending at Dupont (on the north).

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