By Sharleen Chebet
– St. James Town Press, November 2021 edition –

St. James Town is a neighbourhood located in Toronto’s downtown core.  Composed of a diverse and resilient community, it represents the best of Toronto.  Here are some facts you may not know about St. James Town: 

Fact 1
It’s one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Canada.
The population of St. James Town is officially listed as approximately 17,000 residents but estimates say there could be more than 25,000 residents living here. 

Fact 2
St. James Town is one of the smallest neighbourhoods in Toronto.
Having a land area of just 32.1 acres comprising 19 high rises, explains why St. James Town is regarded as one of the smallest and most densely populated neighbourhoods! 

Fact 3
St. James Town was once known as the Homewood Estate.
Yes, back then (in the 1800’s) it was occupied by upper middle-class residents and the homes had more in common with Rosedale. Once the car became popular, most of the wealthy folks left for the suburbs. 

Fact 4
The first Pizza Pizza location was opened in St. James Town.
Yep! The first ever Pizza Pizza location is located on Wellesley and Parliament Streets. Founder Michael Overs opened the location on December 31, 1967. 

Fact 5
The local high school serving St. James Town is the oldest in Toronto.
Jarvis Collegiate was founded in 1807, making it the second oldest high school in Canada – just two years behind Saint John High School in New Brunswick which was founded in 1805. Jarvis even has memorials of students who died in World War I and World War II.

Fact 6
Finding a spacious park in St. James Town is extremely difficult.
St. James Town has the least amount of park space per capita of any neighbourhood in Toronto, according to a CBC report.  The densely-populated area has less than one square metre of park space per person.  

Fact 7
Princess Diana has visited St. James Town.
In 1991, Princess Diana visited Casey House, a hospice located on Isabella Street.

Fact 8
St. James Town might be getting a park with a halo light.
Yesss! Our very own St. James Town West Park is currently going through revitalization. One of the design plans includes a large halo light installation floating above the central plaza. If everything goes according to schedule, construction will begin mid-2022.

Fact 9
The St. James Town cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Toronto that is still in operation.
The St. James’ Cemetery was founded in 1844 for the burial of people of the Anglican faith. At that time, most of the city’s population lived south of Queen Street West, and the cemetery’s location was regarded as being outside of the city limits. Today, the cemetery serves people of all faiths. 

Fact 10
St. James Town once possessed the tallest mural in the world.
The phoenix is a mythical bird associated with the sun. The mural of the phoenix located at 200 Wellesley Street in St. James Town represents the rebirth and resilience of our community. The building was chosen for the mural because of the 2010 fire that displaced more than 1000 residents. The idea for the mural came from a group of artists who in 2013, had been working with a handful of kids that lived in the building.

How many of these facts did you already know?

Sharleen Chebet is a youth journalist with the Focus Media Arts Centre ~ a partner of the St. James Town Community Corner.