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The Beaches (also known as “The Beach”) is a neighbourhood and popular tourist destination located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located on the east side of the “Old” City of Toronto. The original boundaries of the neighbourhood are from Fallingbrook Avenue on the east to Kingston Road on the north, to Woodbine Avenue on the west, south to Lake Ontario. The Beaches is part of the east-central district of Toronto.
The lakefront is divided into four sections; Woodbine Beach to the west, Kew Beach and Scarboro Beach in the centre, and Balmy Beach to the east. It is four beaches which give the neighbourhood its name and defining principal characteristic. Until Lake Shore Boulevard was extended to Woodbine Avenue in the 1950s, Woodbine Beach was not a bathing beach, but rather a desolate wooded area known as The Cut. Woodbine Avenue was the western boundary of the neighbourhood. While the official City northern boundary ends at Kingston Road, the area to the north has become known as the ‘Upper Beaches’ according to real estate marketers. The area bounded by Queen Street, Woodbine and Kingston Road is nicknamed the ‘Beach Triangle’.
The name of the community is the subject of a long-standing dispute. Some long-time local residents assert that The Beach is the proper historical name for the area, whereas others are of the view that “The Beaches” is the more universally recognized neighbourhood name, particularly by non-residents. All government levels refer to the riding, or the ward in the case of the municipal government, as Beaches-East York.
The dispute over the area’s name reached a fever pitch in 1985, when the City of Toronto installed 14 street signs designating the neighbourhood as “The Beaches”. The resulting controversy resulted in the eventual removal of the signs, although the municipal government continues to officially designate the area as “The Beaches”. In early 2006 the local Beaches Business Improvement Area voted to place “The Beach” on signs slated to appear on new lampposts over the summer, but local outcry caused them to rescind that decision. The Beaches Business Improvement Area board subsequently held a poll (online, in person and by ballot) in April 2006 to determine whether the new street signs would be designated “The Beach” or “The Beaches”, and 58% of participants selected “The Beach” as the name to appear on the signs.
In fact, the two names have been used to refer to the area since the first homes were built in the 19th century. “Pluralists” hold that since the area had four distinct beach areas, using the singular term is illogical. Those preferring the singular term “Beach” hold that the term has historically referred to the area as the four distinct beach areas merged.
Historically, there are or were a number of institutions that used the term “Beach” in the singular, including the original Beach telephone exchange (1903 – 1920s), the Beach Hebrew Institute (1920), the Beach Theatre (1919 to the 1960s), and the Beach Streetcar (1923–1948). The singular form has also been adopted by the local historical society, which is called The Beach and East York Historical Society (from 1974). There are also numerous examples of early local institutions that use the plural form “Beaches”, such as the Beaches Library (1915), the Beaches Presbyterian Church (1926), the Beaches Branch of the Canadian Legion and a local war monument in Kew Beach erected post WWII by the “Beaches Business Men’s Association”.
In May 2009, the City of Toronto started the installation of “The Beach” signs along Queen Street.
Despite the naming controversy, most Torontonians recognize either name as referring to this particular neighbourhood, even though there are several other beaches located elsewhere in the city.
Originally a heavily wooded area dotted with private homes and swampland, the current shoreline and the Kew Gardens private park grounds were appropriated by the Toronto Harbour Commission in the early 1900s. The current beach was artificially enlarged and made continuous in 1930 with the use of wooden groynes. The public boardwalk and facilities were officially opened to the public in 1932.
The beach is diminishing as the sand is continuously pushed by lake currents from east to west. Historically, the sand was and to a lesser degree still is replaced by new sand generated by the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs to the east, this source of sand is itself diminished due to municipal efforts to reduce erosion of the bluffs.
The Beach itself is a single uninterrupted stretch of sandy shoreline bounded by the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant to the east and Woodbine Park to the west. A long boardwalk runs along most of its length with a portion of the Martin Goodman Trail bike path running parallel. Although it is continuous, there are four names which correspond each to approximately one quarter of the length of the Beach (from east to west): Balmy Beach, Scarboro Beach, Kew Beach and Woodbine Beach. Woodbine Beach and Kew-Balmy Beach are Blue Flag certified for cleanliness and are suitable for swimming.
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Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
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