Richmond Hill Neighbourhood Profile
A Family Oriented Neighbourhood North Of Toronto
By Alanna Petroff, revised by Sarah Bleiwas
Hill is a suburban town north of Toronto with the unofficial motto “A little north, a little nicer.” The town, which is part of York Region, was founded in the late 1800s, and the town’s development has been directly linked with the development of Yonge Street, the world’s longest street and a central street in Toronto. The Richmond Hill economy thrives because of its proximity to Toronto.
Richmond Hill has a wide variety of different options for housing, the most prevalent being detached, single-family homes. The town also has a smaller selection of condominiums, townhouses and semi-detached homes. Rental housing in Richmond Hill can be found along Yonge Street.
Some of Richmond Hill’s homes were constructed in the late 1800s, with the bulk of the residential community was built after the 1940s. There is currently a considerable amount of residential development taking place in northern Richmond Hill. Families who flock to these new northern developments have been doing so because the newly constructed homes are roomy and reasonably priced.
Margaret R., a mother and Richmond Hill resident, says that, all in all, one of her favourite things about the neighbourhood is that it’s “like a small town.”
Richmond Hill is now one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, with a large and multicultural population. It has 162,704 residents according to the 2006 census, representing 23% growth from the census conducted in 2001.
The Richmond Hill Jewish community is the result of two waves of northernly Jewish migration. The first wave of Jews moved into southern Richmond Hill en masse in the late 1980s and early 1990s when new housing developments were being built. Throughout the 1990s, the Jewish community remained static, but in recent years a new wave of young Jewish families has been moving into both the northern areas of Richmond Hill, and the southern areas where Richmond Hill meets the rapidly growing Thornhill Woods community.
These two waves of Jewish migration into Richmond Hill have resulted in a Jewish community of families with very young children and families with older teenaged children. There is a growing number of Jewish seniors in this community.
Richmond Hill by the numbers
162,704: town population*
16,081: Jewish population**
8.2% increase in Jewish community since 2001**
$532,000: median price for a single detached home
$1,475: average rent for a two-bedroom apartment
* 2006 Canada Census
** UIA Canada's National Task Force on Jewish Demographcs, 2009
UJA Federation has pinpointed the southern part of Richmond Hill (where it meets Thornhill Woods) as an area with tremendous potential for Jewish growth. UJA Federation's Tomorrow Campaign is building the Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus in the north part of Thornhill Woods. The new community hub will include the Schwartz/Reisman Centre offering fitness and aquatic facilities, summer camp, daycare, programs for all ages and more. The Lebovic Campus will also be home to Jewish elementary schools, social services, Jewish organizations and more.
In September of 2007, the TanenbaumCHAT (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto) moved its campus in Richmond Hill to the Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus in Thornhill Woods. The new TanenbaumCHAT- Kimel Campus high school currently provides a Jewish educational environment for over 600 students. Historically, CHAT students have an exceptional rate of success in university entrance. Most of the school’s graduates maintain connected to the Jewish community, and 10 per cent of its teaching staff is former CHAT students. TanenbaumCHAT also has a campus in Bathurst Manor.
Families with elementary age children looking for Jewish day schools bus or carpool to day schools located in the Thornhill-Vaughan neighbourhood, around Bathurst Street and Atkinson Avenue.
The large Jewish population in Richmond Hill also supports several supplementary schools. Beth Israel Hebrew Academy is a Conservative-style school that holds its junior kindergarten classes in a local public high school.
As for synagogues, a number of Jews who have recently moved into Richmond Hill from Toronto and the Thornhill areas commute to their original synagogues for services. However, there are a number of synagogues located in this area.
The Country Shul, located at Bathurst Street and Carrville Road, is an Orthodox outreach synagogue which calls itself “user friendly for Jews of all backgrounds.” It has daily, Shabbat and holiday services.
In the south end of Richmond Hill, where it meets with Thornhill Woods, is Thornhill Woods Shul, an Orthodox educational centre that hosts courses and lectures on topics such as ethics, marriage and current events.
Shops and Services
For Richmond Hill Jews looking to purchase kosher prepared foods, there are three Loblaws stores in Richmond Hill selling kosher pre-packaged cold cuts, hot dogs and salamis. In addition to pre-packaged meats, the new Loblaws Market at Bayview Avenue, north of Highway 7, also sells kosher chicken. There is also a Sobey's and a Longo's grocery store across the street from each other at the corner of Bathurst and Rutherford.
Richmond Hill Jews also drive to grocery stores in Thornhill-Vaughan when they are looking for an even larger selection of kosher fare.
Margaret R. says that when she moved to Richmond Hill she worried that she’d have to schlep her kids to Thornhill and Toronto for extra-curricular activities. But, once she became involved in the community, she discovered a wealth of after-school activities in Richmond Hill for her children. She says that now “we barely ever go downtown.”
The wealth of activities for children has to do with the many recreational facilities in the area. Richmond Hill has numerous ice arenas, baseball diamonds, swimming pools, golf courses and tennis courts for the public to use.
For entertainment, Richmond Hill residents do not have to travel far. The area is home to a number of malls, libraries, cinemas and a theatre. It even has its own 'downtown,' considered the strip of Yonge Street, between Major Mackenzie Drive and Richmond Heights.
For nature lovers, parkland and open spaces can be found throughout Richmond Hill. Mill Pond Park, located in the southern region, has numerous walking and biking trails and is home to a variety of wildlife species. There are also 5 recreational lakes in Richmond Hill including Lake Wilcox, a popular location for wind surfers and other water enthusiasts. An extensive bike path system throughout the community provides for both fitness and convenience.
Richmond Hill is close to three major highways: Highway 400, Highway 404 and Highway 407. These highways ensure that Richmond Hill is well integrated into Ontario's road network. The commute from Richmond Hill to downtown Toronto takes more than an hour in traffic, and approximately 40 minutes without traffic. The GO (Government of Ontario) commuter services are also very convenient for people who need to get downtown for work each day. However, if you travel downtown at irregular hours, GO services are infrequent.
When it comes to inter-Richmond Hill transportation, cars, vans and SUV generally rule the roads. Teenage kids usually resort to borrowing their parents’ cars to get around. However, for those without access to a car, public transportation is available. The new VIVA rapid transit system provides enhanced bus service on the major routes in Richmond Hill.
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