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How do you pronounce “Roncesvalles”? According to the internet there are no fewer than 3 Youtube tutorials (including in “Columbian”), with or without the ending “es”, a wiki guide, a Reddit help list, a Yelp help list, a “Tarrona” Toronto Star article, and first and 14th places on two hardest to pronounce TO neighbourhood lists. Perhaps the most beloved pronunciation is simply “Roncey”.
Originally the land west of Roncesvalles was owned by architect John Howard. East of was owned by soldier Walter O’Hara. Howard named Roncesvalles after the spot he fought at during the Battle of the Pyrenees in 1813. Marion St. is named after Howard’s wife. Constance St. is named after his daughter and Fermanagh after his birthplace Ireland.
The Roncesvalles neighbourhood is bordered by Bloor St. at the north, the lakeshore at the south, High Park on the west and Parkdale on the East. While Roncesvalles Ave. is the main street of the neighbourhood, the Roncesvalles Historical Society lists Sorauren Ave. as the original main street.
There is also an anecdote about the Roncesvalles name recounted by the historical society. Back before the streetcars, the transportation was horse (and carriage). One horse driver, who could not pronounce or spell the name, but had to be part of a police record, said, “King, my horse dropped dead on King” (instead of Roncesvalles). It was after that King street would be the south boundary of Roncesvalles.
The area began its major development with the building of the streetcar running north-south and meets the Queen streetcar, King Streetcar, and at the north Dundas West station.
Many houses were initially single-family of British descent, starting in the early 1,900s. Following WWII Polish and Eastern European families moved into the area. Local retail and restaurant shops sold fresh and homemade foods. Polish is still a major spoken language in the neighbourhood today. In the fall there is a Polish Festival, as well as Roncey Rocks.
Shopping & Eats
Shops of all types: cafes, candy stores, hardware, ethnic restaurant line Roncesvalles from North to South. A female long standing staples remain: Solarski Pharmacy at Garden Ave. Ari’s Place (sometimes favoured by local teens) just near High Park Ave. Patrons will recognize more familiar names like Tim Horton’s, the Friendly Thai, Butler’s Pantry, and Sobey’s. For entertainment there’s the Revue Cinema, live music at The Local, and Hugh’s Room Live, where Dundas intersects. There are Public schools on Fern Ave., and Garden Ave. St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School is at Bloor St. West.
Many of the east-west cross streets have single family, multi-family and basement and upper level apartments in fully and semi-detached houses. Listings can be found on popular streets such at Geoffrey, Fern, and Galley Ave. Larger streets like High Park Ave or Howard park often have larger more unique homes, including duplexes, fourplexes and larger. Listings for apartment style units for a one bedroom can start at close to $500,000. A larger 2 bedroom penthouse style lists at close to $2,000,000. A three bedroom house can start at $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
Roncesvalles Village Available Listings
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