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Old Town is a neighbourhood and retail district in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was the first of Toronto's named neighbourhoods, having acquired the moniker no later than 1815, at which time the original town of York was expanding. The old neighbourhood was referred to as "Old Town" by residents, and the new neighbourhood as "New Town".[1] The site still has a large number buildings dating back to the 19th-century.

Old Town
View of Old Town from the southwest corner of Jarvis and King Street East
View of Old Town from the southwest corner of Jarvis and King Street East
Detail and location of Old Town within Toronto
Detail and location of Old Town within Toronto
Coordinates: 43°39′05″N 79°22′04″W / 43.651352°N 79.367912°W / 43.651352; -79.367912
Country Canada
Province Ontario
CityToronto Flag.svg Toronto

The neighbourhood's approximate boundaries are Queen Street on the north from Church Street east to Parliament Street, Parliament Street south to Front Street, Front Street west to Jarvis Street, one block north to King Street and Church Street north to Queen Street.



View of King Street East looking west from Jarvis Street in 1845 (left) and 2014 (right). The Cathedral Church of St. James is visible in the background of both images.

The first town plan for York was laid out by Captain Mann in 1788. However, the original plan was rejected by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe who had a new plan drawn up by Alexander Aitkin. The plan called for a compact, ten-block townsite, laid out in a gridiron pattern near the mouth of the Don River. This ten-block plan was bounded by George, Berkeley, Adelaide and Front Streets, with the areas east of Parliament to the Don, and west of Peter Street to the Humber set aside for government and military purposes.[2] Government buildings were erected near Parliament and Front Streets.[3]

In April 1849, the area was ravaged by the Great Fire of Toronto, destroying buildings on the north side of King Street East, between Nelson and Church Street. The Cathedral Church of St. James was among the buildings destroyed in the fire, although it was later rebuilt in 1850.


The area is filled with buildings predominantly two or three storeys tall. Along the main streets of Front, King and Queen are numerous first floor restaurants and stores with walk-up apartments on the upper floors. The area also has numerous older warehouses that have been converted to lofts or offices.

The area between Front Street on the south and Adelaide Street on the north, between Berkeley Street on the east and George Street on the west, is the ten blocks that make up the original town-site of York, as laid out in 1793.[3] While no buildings in the area date from that time period, there are numerous heritage buildings such as Toronto's first post office on Adelaide within the area.


Opened in 1833, the First Toronto Post Office (centre) is a museum and a full-service Canada Post office. It is located next to George Brown College.


The 504 King and the 501 Queen east-west streetcar routes serve the neighbourhood. The north-south 65 Parliament and 75 Sherbourne buses also serve the area.


  • Levine, Allan (2014). Toronto: A Biography. Douglas and McIntyre. ISBN 978-1-77100-022-2.
  1. ^ Firth, Edith G., ed. (1966). The Town of York: 1815—1834; A Further Collection of Documents of Early Toronto. University of Toronto Press. pp. xvii.
  2. ^ Levine 2014, pp. 25–26.
  3. ^ a b Levine 2014, p. 26.