Toronto Junction: a Guide to Toronto's Coolest Neighborhood
Published: January 5, 2023
The Junction is one of Toronto's most amazing neighbourhoods. It's hard to describe it as up-and-coming, because it's actually one of the city's oldest. In fact, it was once its own independent city, and home to some of the earliest factories and workhouses in the region – all now converted to amazing shops and restaurants. Its main borders are generally agreed to be St. Clair Avenue West, the Canadian National Railway/Canadian Pacific Railway Main rail lines, Annette Street and Runnymede Road.
Remember: These days, it's best to check with your destinations before you head out. Businesses, services and attractions may open or close due to changing restrictions.
Arts & Crafts
One of the premier arts destinations to check out in the Junction is definitely the Angell Gallery. Home to the eclectic and the inspirational, the Angell is dedicated to presenting art collectors and enthusiasts with thoughtfully curated and engaging exhibitions of contemporary art. Representing emerging, mid-career and senior artists, the Angell Gallery showcases a wide range of media, from painting, drawing and sculpture, to photography, installation and video.
But it doesn't end with the Angell. One of the things that the Junction is most known for is its collection of galleries – eight in total in close proximity. Another definite stop you should make is the MOCA – a destination any art lover would be inspired by. Formerly the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, MOCA moved into a 55,000 square foot purpose-designed home in a former industrial space in 2018, and has been inspiring visitors ever since. MOCA has featured the work of over 1,100 Canadian and international artists, hosted 200-plus exhibitions and welcomed 40,000 annual visitors. MOCA works across all contemporary art forms in the local Toronto art scene. Closed temporarily during the first wave, MOCA is now back open to welcome visitors!
On Tap & On Pour
When you think Junction, odds are you think craft breweries and custom distilleries. For example, there's the Rainhard Brewing Co., which has crafted award-winning beers since it was the original 7 BBL brewhouse. Like many of the neighbourhood brew houses, it offers free local delivery and reasonable shipping within Ontario – or you can drop in on site and get some to go.
Or, maybe visit the Shacklands Brewing Co., which brews Belgian-style ales that range from traditional recipes such as Tripel and Dubbel, to Farmhouse Ales, Saisons, Brett and other aged and funky beers.
Another community favourite is the Indie Ale House – a small craft brewer with great offerings like Belgian Sour, Double IPA or English Porter. Some beers are regulars while others are specially-made, so it's always worth checking in to see what's on tap.
On the fine spirits front, there's the Nickel 9 Distillery, which makes premium spirits using fresh ingredients from local distributors.
One of our personal favourite places to eat in the Junction is The Drake Commissary. It's an eat-in restaurant, a go-to for grab-and-go, a prepared fare destination as well as a culinary workshop. It's 8,000 sq. ft. of innovation and experimentation as chefs, bakers, guests and makers participate in an animated exchange around the creation, presentation and consumption of food. Definitely a must-visit.
It's also definitely worth checking out Dirty Food – a great place to offset the chill of those crisp fall mornings. As the owners put it, Dirty Food is the embodiment of comfort food and guilty pleasure eating, and good ol' fashion home cooking. From bacons to baked goods and pickles to preserves, nearly everything is made-in-house. They're open for pick-up right now, so swing by and grab something warm that will make you feel good!
When the Pig Came Home is part restaurant, part deli. It was founded in 2012 by three passionate food-loving friends who just happened to be chefs, and is grounded in a belief in grassroots, local sourcing of high-quality seasonal food. Working directly with farmers, they have access to some of the highest quality, naturally raised, grass-fed, hormone-and-antibiotic-free meats available.
Over at Junction Fromagerie – perhaps not surprisingly, given the name – you'll find some of the best cheeses available in Toronto, let alone the Junction area. So, if you have a hankering for some fantastic fromage, be sure to add this to the list.
It's impossible to be truly representative of all the amazing options you have for shopping in the Junction. But, if we have to narrow it down...
A few of our favourites include SMASH, where you can find a jumble of reclaimed furniture, fixtures and architectural collections. Found objects are displayed throughout the vast space – you never know what you'll find. The shop is a go-to for local design studios and the film industry.
For amazing gifts and, well just great stuff, check out The Beau & Bauble.
Or, visit Arts Market. It's a destination that offers a vast array of products, including jewellery, pottery, photography, gift cards and a whole bunch more. The Arts Market is great for gift shopping. For your bigger design needs, check out Mjolk. The shop and gallery represents work by designers and artisans from Scandinavia and Japan. It's overflowing with new and antique treasures.