The Beach or the Beaches?
The Beaches is a lovely neighbourhood in the east end of Toronto and it lies along the beautiful shores of Lake Ontario. It roughly stretches from Coxwell east to Victoria Park and it is bordered by Fallingbrook Avenue to the east, by Kingston Road to the north and by Woodbine Avenue to the west.
Queen Street East is the main street that runs through The Beaches community. It is the heart of most of the action in The Beaches and it is full of many unique boutiques, restaurants and bars. The commercial district of Queen Street East lies at the heart of The Beaches community. It is characterized by a large number of independent speciality stores.
The Beaches also has many nice parks as well as a beautiful boardwalk, biking trails and a pretty beach that stretches out along the shores of Lake Ontario. Both Woodbine Beach and Kew-Balmy Beach are rated as ‘Blue Flag’ beaches, which means that they are clean and suitable for swimming. Many tourists and visitors flock to this area each summer to enjoy this wonderful outdoor playground. The Beaches is known as being a great place to raise a family with very little crime as well as many parks and schools.
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 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.
The side streets are mostly lined with semi-detached and large-scale Victorian, Edwardian and new-style houses. There are also low-rise apartment buildings and a few row-houses. Controversy has risen in recent years over new development in the neighbourhood that is changing the traditional aesthetic, with denser housing causing some residents to protect the traditional cottage-like appearance of the homes with heritage designations for some streets.
It is also the home to The Beaches annual International Jazz Festival which is a 10-day music festival held each year in the lakeside Beaches community of Toronto in the month of July. The festival first started in 1988. It is one of Canada's largest free jazz festival with nearly 800,000 attendees, throughout its 10 day span. The Festival takes place across a number of venues. Stage concerts are held in several different parks within the area and also along a two kilometre stretch of the Beach mainstreet - Queen Street East. Every year, the Festival brings in internationally acclaimed jazz performers while also showcasing local talent, including “new generation” jazz musicians. The Festival now hires around 1000 artists per annum, including 50 bands for its “StreetFest” event along Queen Street East.
The Beach or The Beaches? 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. In his book, Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto, Robert Fulford, himself a former resident, wrote: "the historical argument for 'the Beaches' as a name turns out to be at least as strong as the historical argument for 'the Beach'". "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.