Armour Heights Neighbourhood Profile
A family oriented area of the city
By Elysse Zarek, revised by Sarah Bleiwas
Armour Heights is a large swath of land that stretches from Highway 401 to Finch Ave., and from Bathurst St. on the west side to Bayview Ave. on the east. During World War One, Armour Heights landowner Colonel F.B. Robins donated the land for a makeshift airfield training base, where famous American aviator Amelia Earhart worked as a nurse.
Home construction began in the 1920s and continued until the 1970s, creating a hodgepodge of different architectural styles (Dunkelman, Your Guide to Toronto’s Neighbourhoods). Recent construction means that some of the older homes, modest two storey homes and cozy brick bungalows are scattered between impressive Tudor stucco houses, giving the area the feel of a neighbourhood in transition.
Described by a local real estate agent as a middle-class neighbourhood inhabited by professionals and their children, Armour Heights is a prime location for Jewish families, in part because of the many Jewish schools and synagogues along Bathurst St. and dotted throughout the area. “There are a lot of homes in the area that are more reasonably priced for a home in the core of the city, especially when you get closer to Bathurst St.,” he says.
Armour Heights encompasses a relatively large area, and although there are enough Jewish residents to register on the census’s top 10 list of ethnicities in the neighbourhood, this is predominantly because of the area west of Yonge St., where there are significantly more Jews. Other top 10 ethnicities in Armour Heights include Canadian, British, Scottish and Irish. Compared to the rest of Toronto, Armour Heights has few immigrants and more Canadian citizens.
Due to its central location and the various
Jewish day schools in the area,
Armour Heights by the number
49,950: neighbourhood population
6,010: number of Jews
12: % of Jewish residents
1,335: number of Jewish seniors
120: Russian-speaking households
$692,300: median price for a single detached home
$1,400 average rent for a two-bedroom apartment
population figures - 2001 Canada Census
or a reasonable drive away in Bathurst Manor, many young families have moved to Armour Heights. In the last 10 years, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of children in the area; Armour Heights now has the third-highest number of Jewish children in the Census Metropolitan Area. There is also a larger-than-average senior population in Armour Heights, again because of the neighbourhood’s proximity to Jewish shops and services.
After English, Russian is the most commonly spoken language in this neighbourhood.
The Armour Heights neighbourhood lies directly adjacent to Bathurst Manor, which is home to a plethora of synagogues, Jewish schools and general institutions serving the Jewish community. Residents in the west side of Armour Heights can access Bathurst St. with a short stroll, while those further east may opt for synagogues and schools which are more central in the Armour Heights neighbourhood.
Conservative synagogue Adath Israel is located at the tip of Armour Heights where the neighbourhood meets Bathurst Manor and Lawrence Manor. Adath Israel has about 1900 members and has a congregational school and numerous programs for people of all ages.
“A lot of people belong to the congregation because their families have been members for some time, and even though they may have moved up to places like Richmond Hill, they still associate with the congregation because of their families’ affiliation with it,” says Associate Rabbi David Seed, who moved to Toronto from Philadelphia in 2003.
Beth Tikvah is a traditional Conservative synagogue at the opposite side of Armour Heights on Bayview Ave., bordering the Bayview Village neighbourhood. Its members travel from as far as Richmond Hill and the Beach to attend its Kabbalat Shabbat services. Beth Tikvah has several youth programs and a congregational school, and its choir has won several awards for its music programming. As well, Beth Tikvah houses Tikvat Hayim School, an award-winning educational program designed for children with learning challenges.
Further west is the Orthodox Beth Joseph Lubavitch that holds services and also has a mikvah.
For a Jewish education, Robbins Hebrew Academy's Bayview campus is located within Beth Tikvah. Robbins Hebrew Academy is a dynamic Conservative day school for children in grades 1 to 8 integrating Jewish and General studies programming, and incorporates both Hebrew and English in the curriculum.
Ulpanot Orot High School for Girls, an Orthodox Zionist high school, is situated at the junction of Armour Heights and Bathurst Manor and the Toronto Heschel School, with a focus on environmentalism, can be found on Sheppard Ave. west of Bathurst. Additionally, Associated Hebrew Schools has its newly renovated junior high campus on Finch Ave. at Bathurst St., where it continues its ivrit b’ivrit program. For the wee ones, Menorah Day Care for youngsters aged 18 months to five years has a nursery school during the academic year and a kids’ summer camp during July and August.
Shops and Services
Most Armour Heights residents go to the No Frills grocery store, at the corner of Bathurst St. and Wilson Ave., for kosher foods. The plaza at Bathurst St. and Sheppard Ave., on the west side in Bathurst Manor, also has a 24-hour Metro Supermarket, a drug store, a bank and a dry cleaning shop. Several kosher delis, bakeries and restaurants also line the stretch of Bathurst St. that Armour Heights shares with Bathurst Manor neighbourhood.
Along Yonge St., there are also several grocery stores in the stretch between Finch Ave. and Sheppard Ave. that carry limited selections of kosher products.
Avenue Road, which runs through Armour Heights, has numerous shops. From upscale restaurants, beauty salons and fashion stores to affordable food markets, toy shops and fast food outlets, there is something for everyone. Yonge St. also has a mix of shops, including an international selection of restaurants and food markets, and the upscale Bayview Village Shopping Centre is also nearby.
Armour Heights is home to Earl Bales Park, one of the area’s largest green spaces. In this expanse of green space, it’s common to see dogs and their owners prancing through the trees or families munching on picnic goodies during the summer. In winter, the city turns Earl Bales into a small ski slope and offers introductory skiing and snowboarding. The park also contains a Holocaust memorial and a bust of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of 10,000 Hungarian Jews during World War Two. The Jewish community hosts an annual Yom Hashoah ceremony at the Park.
Earl Bales Seniors Place, located in the park, has a seniors’ club with more than 600 members that hosts bingo games, social events and computer classes, as well as organizing day trips. both Mel Lastman Square and the Armour Heights Community Centre offer programs for residents in the area, in addition to a massive public library and amphitheatre.
The Prosserman JCC and the Koffler Centre of the Arts, both located on Sherman Campus (Bathurst Street, just north of Sheppard Avenue) are no more than 10 minutes away by car from anywhere in the neighbourhood. It has quickly become one of the focal points with programming and classes for everyone regardless of age or background.
When it comes to entertainment, residents of Armour Heights often head to other neighbourhoods for fun times. There are cinemas at Yorkdale Mall or at Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave, and various coffee shops dot the area.
The largest pitfall to this neighbourhood is also one of its highlights. Highway 401, the main artery that runs through Toronto, forms the southern boundary of Armour Heights. Depending on the location of your house, this can be frustrating. There are also areas in the southern part of the neighbourhood where not a single honk or screech can be heard.
Dena, who lives on the 8th floor of a condominium tower overlooking the 401 – “I could do traffic reports” – thinks it’s a fair trade-off. “The 401 is noisy, but I’m on the 401 in 30 seconds,” she says.
Regardless, the highway also provides quick access for commuters to the entire city. Yonge St. (which runs through the heart of the neighbourhood) also provides a direct route to downtown Toronto. It takes approximately half an hour to get downtown this way.
Public transportation is available on all the major streets, and connects passengers to the Toronto Yonge subway line at the intersections of Yonge St. with both Finch Ave. and Sheppard Ave. Additionally, the University-Spadina subway line can be accessed a few traffic lights west of Bathurst Street along Sheppard Ave. or Wilson Ave.
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