Roncesvalles Resurrected

Roncesvalles Street in the West End stretching from just below Bloor to King Streets has had to endure more construction anguish via the TTC and the City  then perhaps any other streets in Toronto with the possible exceptions of St.Clair West and Eglington Ave West. Ye Editor knows the Sheppard East and Parliament and Queeen east would beg to differ. But having endured 4++ years of totally disruptive TTC trolly track construction [twice] and City water pipe refittings, ye Editor can testify to the pluck of this largely Polish and East European neighborhood that has St Joeseph’s Hospital anchoring it in the South and Dundas Street and the Junction in the North.

Finally being able to walk on Rocesvalles with no construction barriers

The above is hardly a tourist shot for Roncesvalles, but it catches the relief of not having to pick yor way up and down the street – which is what pedestrian and shoppers have had to do for the past 2-3 years.  No gates, walking boards with dug pits in the sidewalk, no one way traffic – up this week? After much agony the street and its merchants breath a sigh of relief.

Many Roncy vendors did not survive the economic downturn +  street upheaval


The sad fact is that many favorite businesses and eateries just could not cope with the general economic decline in Ontario and Toronto plus the restricted access to their shops and places during the past 4 years. TTC construction followed by city water work uprooting followed by more TTC construction exacted its toll.

Roncy merchants had to resort to sidewalk sales when they could

If you had a business along Rocesvalles and survived the mugging from the city and TTC, you deserve a Medal of  Resilience and Pluck. Many merchants resorted to sidewalk sales that linger even after the the “fixup”. As well the creative marketing and cross business deals help to stave the worst. Roncy was an MBA schooling in How to Survive in Business that will stand its merchants in good stead over the next decade or more.

The constant improvements

Another trick used by business was to constantly make small improvements to their stores and offerings. They were certainly aware of their customers needs and demands. That spirit continues to this day – with many renovations taking place now that the street is habitable.

Small Store Shopping

Another sustaining aspect of Roncesvalles is the European small store shopping ethic. No big mall stores or chains wreak temporary  discounted havoc on the street. Quality and prsonal service helps to keep this in check. But also the European tradition of street shopping and service certainly helped Roncy survive. Take for example the many flower and grocery stores with flowers.

Every day, one can find great floral choices and displays on Roncesvalles


Ditto for fresh fruits and vegetables. And as for the Polish meats and sausages – schmeckt! One’s mouth just waters thinking of the meat shops on lower Roncesvalles.

So if you have been away due to the chaos, come down to Roncevalles again. The street is alive and thriving. Take the 204 King Streetcar South from Dundas Street West Subway stop. Or ride your bike. Its a great stroll during TheX.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *