Roncesvalles (or Roncesvalles Village) is a neighbourhood in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada centred on Roncesvalles Avenue, a north-south street leading from the intersection of King and Queen Streets to the south, north to Dundas Street West, a distance of roughly 1.5 kilometres. It is located east of High Park, north of Lake Ontario, in the Parkdale-High Park provincial and federal ridings and the municipal Ward 14. Its informal boundaries are High Park to the west, Bloor Street West to the north, Lake Ontario/Queen Street West to the south and Lansdowne Avenue/rail corridor to the east. Originally known as 'Howard Park', most of this area was formerly within the boundaries of Parkdale and Brockton villages and was annexed into Toronto in the 1880s.
Culturally, the area is known as the centre of the Polish community in Toronto with prominent Polish institutions, businesses and St Casimir's Catholic Church located on Roncesvalles Avenue. The businesses along Roncesvalles have formed the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area and hold an annual Polish Festival.
The neighborhood is predominantly residential, with a commercial strip the full length of Roncesvalles, composed predominantly of small businesses, churches and institutions. To the west of Roncesvalles, the area is nearly completely residential except for St. Joseph's Health Centre and a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) streetcar barn. East of Roncesvalles along the CN and CP rail lines is an older industrial area that is in transition. Several of the buildings along Sorauren Avenue have been converted into loft-style condominiums. At one time a large TTC bus garage was located along Sorauren Avenue; this property has been converted into Sorauren Park. Two other old industrial buildings along Wabash are owned by the City of Toronto, and are slated for a future community centre project. One of the buildings currently serves as a clubhouse for the Park.
The City of Toronto defines three official neighbourhoods as having boundaries with Roncesvalles Avenue. To the west, the official neighbourhood is High Park-Swansea. To the east, the official neighbourhood is named "Roncesvalles" - often referred to as "Roncy". To the southeast of Roncesvalles Avenue is "South Parkdale".
The street has long been known as the cultural and commercial centre of Toronto's Polish community. A number of Polish-speaking restaurants, delicatessens and shops specializing in Polish goods are located on Roncesvalles Avenue. The sign "M+¦wimy po polsku" ("We speak Polish") is displayed in some storefronts.
The Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area holds an annual Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival each fall, closing Roncesvalles Avenue to vehicular traffic. The festival features amusement rides, clothing, craft and food stands and outdoor musical entertainment, including polka music. In 2011, an estimated 300,000 people attended the festival. The official patron of the festival is the Polish Consulate. It is considered the largest Polish festival in North America.
The popular repertory movie theatre Revue Cinema, at the intersection of Roncesvalles and Howard Park Avenue first opened its doors in 1911. It closed for a year as part of the dissolution of the Festival Cinemas chain. It reopened as a non-profit operation of the Revue Film Society. The Society laboured for a year to find a way to reopen the Revue, and partnered with a local couple who purchased the theatre and now leases it to the Society.
Another theatre, the Brighton, closed in the mid-1980s. It is in use as a convenience store, although it has not been renovated, other than its marquee signage removed.
The area has several bars and restaurants with live music. Gate 403, located at 403 Roncesvalles is a jazz bar with live music daily. The Local pub offers live music daily. Inter Steer offers live music twice a week. Loons Restaurant & Pub offers live music on Friday nights. Latinada, on Bloor Street west of Dundas, is a Tapas bar with live music. Zag?oba restaurant also offers live music. On Dundas Street just north of Roncesvalles, Hugh's Room books folk, jazz and blues daily.
The High Park branch of the Toronto Public Library, a Carnegie library, is located at Wright Avenue. It was opened in 1916, and renovated in 1979 and again in 1991.
The largest park in the area is 400 acres (160 ha) High Park west of Parkside Drive, with playgrounds, Grenadier Pond, a zoo, baseball diamonds, outdoor swimming pool and forest. A new park, Sorauren Avenue Park, was created at the intersection of Sorauren Avenue and Wabash Avenue on the site of a former bus garage. It now holds two tennis courts, two soccer fields and a fieldhouse. A playground is across Wabash from the park. At the site, a former linseed oil factory is now in the ownership of the City and is earmarked for a future recreation centre. To the south of the area, the Sunnyside lakefront provides playgrounds, picnic areas, the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, a boardwalk, a recreation trail and beaches.
High Park provides baseball diamonds and organized youth baseball programs. High Park also has two soccer fields, tennis courts and an artificial ice rink in the winter. West Toronto Collegiate on Lansdowne Avenue to the east provides an all-weather track and a soccer field.
There are several club-run facilities. High Park Curling Club on Indian Road is Toronto's oldest curling club. The current rink was opened in 1911. There are two tennis clubs in High Park. Along the lakefront, there are rowing clubs including the Argonaut Club. The Boulevard Club operates tennis and boating facilities.
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