Affectionately known as the “Roncy”, Roncesvalles (pronounced ron-sess-veilz to most, but it’s still up for debate) is an eclectic and varied community tucked between Toronto’s larger Parkdale and High Park neighbourhoods.
The area is well-known for its quaint housing and tight-knit community. It’s made up of mostly old residential housing, and even older family businesses. Recently, a few of its older buildings have been heritage’d into high-rise condos.
Its informal boundaries are High Park to the west, Bloor Street West to the north, Queen Street West to the south and Lansdowne Avenue to the east.
An important piece of Roncy culture is based in its Polish roots. Home to the most well-attended Polish community events in North America, the Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival hosts almost half a million people each fall. Attendees are entertained with amusement park rides, food and craft stands, and Polish musical guests (read: polka, polka, and more polka).
Roncy is well-known, and well-liked, with a good reputation around Toronto and beyond. It has an eclectic mix of residents ranging in ages and income levels, and potential tenants won’t feel excluded in the residential mix. It’s also a pretty hip place to be, even without the traditional “Toronto-hip” mainstays of exposed-brick coffee shops and craft beer bars.
Despite its varied population, Roncy has a very tight-knit community. Polish restaurants and community centres welcome all races and cultures, and you can’t get a better dumpling on this side of the hemisphere. Although I suppose that’s up for debate too.
Its High Park border is a major draw for nature lovers, pet owners, and urban exercisers. Nearby access to the Bloor subway and the Queensway mean that it’s a short commute downtown for almost anybody, too.
Roncy is also far enough away from the downtown core to be slightly cheaper than similar properties in Yorkville, for example.
Roncesvalles is, I’m so sorry, really close to Parkdale. Parkdale has a reputation both in and outside the city as a “rougher” neighbourhood in the west end, although many of its residents would argue against that generalization.
Still, Parkdale has traditionally and historically been neglected for much-needed infrastructure funding, since it’s in a zone not-quite-downtown and not-quite-Etobicoke. Its in-betweenness isn’t a draw for those looking for one or the other, either.
It’s also where you’re most likely to spot Toronto’s only non-Ford international anti-celebrity: David “Zanta” Zancai. If you’ve lived in Toronto for more than a week, you’ve probably spotted the Santa-hat-clad shirtless entertainer doing pushups in heavy traffic or making friends in unlikely places. While Zancai himself - and mental illness, in general - should not be looked down upon, he’s received numerous complaints for mischief, being a public nuisance, and holding up traffic around the neighbourhood.
I absolutely love Roncesvalles. I think it’s an up-and-coming neighbourhood that will receive a lot more attention in the future, as both a community and an investment opportunity.
That being said, I think Roncesvalles’ property boom is a long, long time away. Decades, even.
A lot of the City’s money has been moving eastward, to Scarborough transit (trying to avoid its secession?), the Regent Park revitalization, the Canary District project, and the re-booming of the Beaches. Toronto’s lesser-known west hotspots are also little less hot these days, with Liberty Village and the Entertainment district taking a lot of the west-side story.
There also hasn’t been a construction boom in the area, so you’re not likely to find lots of investment opportunity. A few condos have gone up, but it hasn’t kept pace with the steady influx of new Toronto residents. This means that people are actually choosing not to settle in Roncesvalles, and instead are moving to other neighbourhoods in the city.
What I’d recommend? Keep a close eye on Roncesvalles (and Parkdale, for that matter!) in the near- and far-future. When more than a few developers start scoping and churning out some high-rise housing, I’d say it’s time to revisit and re-assess for investment potential. Until, then, have you seen the Annex?