Canada has just celebrated 150 years of history. As an immigrant, I thought it would be instructive for me to look at the history of the community where my family and I now live. The Lawrence Park Community has been voted among the top five areas in the city over the last few years in various publications – and this just reaffirms how lucky we are to live in this diverse neighbourhood.
It goes without saying that the major demographic in the area is families, which is reflected in both the housing stock and highranking schools in Lawrence Park. The area is home to lush parks and walking trails, and our Yonge Street corridor has plenty of restaurants and shops to give residents enough choice and a reason to champion local businesses.
So, when did this all take shape? The assembly of Lawrence Park began in 1907 by the Dovercourt Land Building and Saving Company, which acquired the north parcel of the park from John Lawrence (who was a tanner and farmer), after whom this neighbourhood is named. English-born Wilfrid Servington Dinnick, the young company president, was the new visionary for this undeveloped subdivision. He felt that Toronto had reached a level where it could support another Rosedale or Moore Park.
Dinnick saw this creation as a “garden suburb” akin to the garden suburbs being developed in England. Dinnick later referred to Lawrence Park as the “Hampstead Garden Suburb of Canada.” (Being an ex-Londoner myself, I can especially identify with this, as one of my favourite areas in London is Hampstead, which is situated in Northwest London.) He wanted to build a housing subdivision, mainly high-quality homes on larger lots designed to attract business executives and professionals. We can see this trend continuing to this day.
The original founders of Sheridan Nurseries (now on Yonge Street) were commissioned to do the landscape architecture for many of the new homes, boulevards and parks in the area. To this day you can see evidence of real gardening enthusiasts in the colourful, manicured residential gardens in the area. Lawrence Park’s first advertisement to attract new home owners described the new subdivision as “an aristocratic neighbourhood.” The Good’s Atlas of 1924 showed 225 houses in Lawrence Park.
Strict guidelines dictated that residential houses had to be detached, constructed of brick and stone, and have a value of at least $4,000. Today, Lawrence Park’s houses display a variety of architectural styles, including English Cottage, Tudor Revival, Georgian and Colonial. Most of these homes were built between 1910 and the late 1940s. Over the last few years, some lots in Lawrence Park have been redeveloped with larger houses that do not match the scale of the original housing in the neighbourhood.
Although it is hard to imagine in 2017, at the time lots sold for $15 to $75 per square foot, a world away from the current market value of approximately $900 to $1,000 per square foot. According to current Toronto Real Estate Board data, homes in the area have increased in value by over 100% in the last decade alone.
Only in 1949 was the area’s residential tradition compromised slightly with the construction of the Toronto Public Library branch at Yonge and Lawrence, and the establishment of the Lawrence Park Community Church. Two notable social institutions that now serve the residents of this district are the Rosedale Golf Club and the Granite Club.
I think it’s safe to say that Wilfrid S. Dinnick’s vision has come to fruition. What we see today is a picturesque “garden suburb” in Toronto with a strong sense of community and one that our friends, children and neighbours get to enjoy on a daily basis.
If you are interested in learning more about Lawrence Park, or if you’re looking to sell, upgrade or buy in the area, please call me at 416-419-5893. I am always happy to share neighbourhood statistics with you and help you with all your real estate needs.