From its inception Don Mills has always had very ritzy neighbours—a tradition that carries on to this day. But back in the mid-1950s this area of the GTA was known as “horse country,” and it was the preferred stomping ground for toffs mad keen on hunting foxes, chasing polo balls or just cantering about the countryside on their favourite steed. All of the great Bayview estates are gone now—the Sifton family’s Armadale is now the Toronto French School, E.P. Taylor’s Wind-fields Farm, now the Canadian Film Centre, the Bain Family’s Graydon Hall, now an event space, and F.R. Wood’s manor house, now the Crescent School. Arguably the grandest estate of the all, Glendon Hall, is now Glendon College, one of Canada’s most unique post-secondary institutions: the only bilingual liberal arts college in the country. Once the home of F.R. Wood’s older brother, Edward, Glendon Hall evokes images of Old Money bluebloods disporting themselves against a backdrop of manicured lawns and Georgian terraces. But today the estate is spiffily up-to-date as symbolized by the Montreal architect Renee Daoust’s spectacular glass entrance pavilion for Glendon College, AKA, The Centre of Excellence. Mr. Wood’s beautiful Italianate manor house evokes a bygone age; the college’s gorgeous new glass box symbolizes the endless possibilities of the future. Both are just two of the many unique destinations easily accessible to Rodeo Drive residents.
When the Kilgour family donated their Sunnybrook farm to the city for a park, a section was deeded to the federal government in 1948 to create a veterans’ hospital for soldiers recently returned from the Second World War. It was, naturally enough, called Sunnybrook, and over the decades it has morphed into a world renowned medical complex. Sunnybrook is Canada’s largest trauma centre and maternity hospital as well as being a teaching hospital for the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. Mining magnate and noted philanthropist Seymour Schulich donated millions to create a world-class centre for cardiac care and research and a prominent business family, the Odettes, gave generously to establish a centre for cancer research. Just minutes from Rodeo Drive on Bayview Avenue, Sunnybrook Hospital is an invaluable community resource for all Don Mills residents.
Opening in 1969 to mark Canada’s Centennial two years earlier, the Ontario Science Centre, designed by Raymond Moriyama, is one of Toronto’s greatest cultural attractions. Over fifty million people have visited the world’s first interactive science museum in its nearly half-century existence and it continues to delight, educate and enthrall its legions of fans. A decade ago the Science Centre completed a $47.5-million upgrade of its facilities via its Agents of Change initiative. Among the new features was the entirely experimental Weston Family Innovation Centre, an exploration plaza called TELUSCAPE and two permanent art pieces: the FUNtain and Lotic Meander. Science Centre exhibits range from Renaissance geniuses—Leonardo da Vinci’s Workshop: Inventor, Artist, Dreamer—to 20th century wizards: Harry Potter: The Exhibition. Last year a new exhibit quickly became a fan favourite: “To Be an Astronaut,” featuring personal items on loan from Colonel Chris Hadfield and chronicling the career trajectory of Canada’s most famous man-in-space. All this adds up to a lot of fun, especially for kids, so it’s hardly surprising that 210,000 Ontario school kids visit the centre each year. Next year visiting the museum will become much easier with the opening of the Science Centre station on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. But for residents of Rodeo Drive this spectacular cultural and education attraction is just a quick hike down Don Mills Road. Enjoy.