North of downtown Toronto, the neighbourhood of South Hill is dominated by a steep escarpment which allows residents here to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city. Casa Loma, a castle-like mansion built in the early 1900s, is a Toronto landmark and popular tourist destination.
In the late 19th century, South Hill became home to some of Toronto’s wealthiest citizens. Atop the hill, a series of majestic manors were home to some of Toronto’s most influential residents. Senator John Macdonald built Oaklands, which today is part of the private De La Salle College. The Eaton family built Ardwold Estate and James Austin built Spadina House, which is now a museum. Many of the manors that were built on the hill have been demolished or converted to other uses. South Hill remains an upscale neighbourhood in Toronto, and even features its own independent (and unofficial) republic, Rathnelly. This midtown community of about 250 homes, banded together in the 1960s to protest various proposed city developments including a roadway that would bisect their neighbourhood. Now the neighbourhood is home for many artists, musicians, writers, journalists and academics.
Defined by Avenue Road, South Hill contains some of the largest houses in Toronto. Mixed in with upscale homes are relatively new condominiums as well as some upscale rental apartment buildings. Families here appreciate the close proximity to some of the most highly regarded public, private and Catholic schools. South Hill is also close to George Brown College, and the Tarragon Theatre – Toronto’s leading venue for independent drama. South Hill is walking distance to the Royal Ontario Art Museum, University of Toronto, Yorkville, Bloor Street and the multi-cultural shops and festivals on St. Clair.
Joggers and those who love going for walks will appreciate the well-lit and family-friendly Nordheimer Ravine, which connects to Toronto’s Beltline Trail. Nearby is Winston Churchill Park, favoured for its running track, playground, and 10 tennis courts. The St. Clair Reservoir is popular with dog walkers.