The energy of the Annex is vibrant, sophisticated and a little bit bohemian. Due in part to its proximity to the University of Toronto, the neighbourhood is home to a sizeable population of academics, professors, artists, and activists. You’ll also find a number of more affluent residents living in The Annex who have been drawn in by the area’s gorgeous homes and mature trees. Notable residents include Margaret Atwood, as well as the late (renowned) urbanist Jane Jacobs. The Annex was also home to the iconic Honest Ed’s department store, the site of which is set to be transformed into a mixed-use development that will retain the neighbourhood’s community feel.
If you’re thinking of living in the Annex, here are five things you should know…
1) It’s book lover’s haven
Given the academic pursuits of many Annex residents, it’s no surprise that the area is home to some of the city’s most beloved bookstores. BMV runs its flagship store in the neighbourhood, where it offers a wide selection of fiction, nonfiction, magazines, and records. Nearby, Book City provides an eclectic mix of titles at reasonable prices (it’s known for its 10 per cent discount on hardcover selections). Thunderstruck Books specializes in comics, graphic novels, and manga, while Seeker’s focuses on all things New Age (from meditation to the occult).
2) You’ll find plenty of upscale and creative restaurants in The Annex
There’s no doubt that the Annex offers a lot of budget-friendly eats for students. That said, you’ll also find an abundance of chic eateries that will appeal to even the most discerning foodie. Bar Mercurio is known for its fresh pasta, gourmet pizzas, and flavourful espressos. L’Unita is another local favourite for Italian fare (don’t forget to indulge—the cannolis are incredible). Rose and Sons was recently transformed into a deli, and the Jewish staples on the menu—like matzoh ball soup and potato and onion knishes—don’t disappoint. If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, head straight to Sushi Couture (it’s a cut above most sushi joints). If you prefer comfort food, try it with a creative twist at Chadwick’s Craft Kitchen & Bar.
3) It’s a great place to immerse yourself in art, culture and history
If you’re an avid learner, you’ll feel right at home living in the Annex. Neighbourhood residents are just a short jaunt away from the Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM), which is devoted to art, world culture, and natural history. The ROM is continuously hosting new exhibits that are both thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. For this reason, patrons who live in the area tend to visit often. While not quite as well known on the international stage, the Gardiner Museum is absolutely fascinating. This national museum pays homage to traditions in ceramics and clay (it offers art classes to boot). Koerner Hall is another local cultural institution. A gorgeous music venue if ever there was one, this hall seats 1,135 patrons. Its acoustics are perfect for classical music, opera, jazz, and everything in between.
4) It’s home to a true community hub
At the corner of Bloor and Spadina, you’ll find an inclusive and extremely popular community centre. In its over 60 years of existence, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) has contributed significantly to the health and wellness of Annex residents. The centre provides state-of-the-art facilities (including a fitness centre and a multi-use theatre), along with a wide variety of programs, classes, and arts and cultural events. It’s also a founding member of the Bloor Street Cultural Corridor, and one of the primary organizers of the Annex Family Festival. While Jewish values lie at the heart of Miles Nadal JCC, its membership is diverse. Residents living in The Annex from all walks of life enjoy its amenities, as well as the priceless educational and cultural value it offers.
5) The beautiful architecture will wow you
On walks and commutes, Annex residents enjoy some of the most gorgeous architecture in the city. Specifically, the neighbourhood boasts a large number of bay-and-gable homes (a late Victorian style of home that’s unique to Toronto). These buildings, which are typically constructed of red brick or sandstone, feature polygonal bay windows and pointed gables. If you make the Annex home, you’ll likely also be surrounded by an abundance of historical and heritage properties. One of my favourites in the area is the Loretto. This beautiful condo building (a former day school) features a stately brick facade and beautiful, spacious units. I’m also a huge fan of the stunning mid-century condo buildings on Walmer Road. Put simply: if you’re looking for a home with character, the Annex might just be the neighbourhood for you!
Still looking for your perfect house or condo to buy, or maybe just more about living in the Annex? You can check out recent listings in the neighbourhood here. If you have any questions about the area, feel free to get in touch!