LIFE November 7th, 2017


Helendale a small gem in a big neighbourhood


Helendale street view
ANDREA FREEDMAN/Streeter LONG AND SHORT OF IT: Helendale Avenue is just two blocks long but it features a diversity of housing options and a changing demographic.

Walk just a couple of streets north of Eglinton Avenue from Yonge Street and you will find Helendale Avenue, a small residential street spanning two blocks from Yonge Street west to Edith Street.

Back in the early 1900s a boutique hotel by the name of Oulcott’s stood at the northwest corner of Yonge and Helendale. The building was later used as a post office from 1914 to 1936. Currently, a large condo building is under construction on that very same corner.

Despite some of the changes taking place in the neighbourhood, most of Helendale remains the same, including some of its nearly 100-year old-homes and the Northern District Library, which has backed onto the street since it was built in 1984.

Frank Nagy, a semi-retired photographer, has lived on Helendale with his wife for the past 30 years. Nagy likes the street’s small size, as well as its proximity to the Eglinton subway station and grocery stores — and that he is able to get where he needs to go on foot or by riding his bicycle.

There are many different styles of semi-detached and detached homes on Helendale, which Nagy relishes because it makes the street more interesting.

Also he says, “Different styles attract people from different backgrounds.” He and his wife like the mix of people on their street, which includes doctors, lawyers, families, singles, and gay and straight couples — with or without children.

He jokes that “except for a few” exceptions, neighbours on his street are accepting, welcoming and open-minded.

Since moving to his house 30 years ago when the Yonge-Eglinton neighborhood was considered to be “whiny, young and eligible.”

Nagy has seen many people come and go. “I’m one of the original yuppies,” he laughs.

It doesn’t bother him though. In fact, he says “I love the change.”

Nowadays, the demographic also includes renters in their 20s and 30s, which keeps it youthful. Many of the renters are still establishing themselves and their careers, which Nagy finds “interesting to watch.”

He isn’t thrilled with the sight of the Neon condo at the corner of Orchard View Boulevard and Duplex Avenue, which he can see from his front porch.

But he also appreciates it because it gives people a chance to buy a home in Toronto, where home ownership in today’s real estate market might otherwise be out of their reach.

As far as safety is concerned, “short of living in some kind of compound,” Helendale feels extremely safe. All in all, “this is a great neighbourhood to live in.”