View of southeast Steeles from L'Amoreaux Park
Steeles is a suburban neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This geographically localized community is in the former municipality of Scarborough which was amalgamated into the City of Toronto in 1998. Steeles is located at the northern edge of Toronto (the very north-western corner of Scarborough) and is bordered by Steeles Avenue East to the north, Kennedy Road to the east, a hydro-electric transmission line to the south (just south of McNicoll Avenue) and Victoria Park Avenue to the west.
Steeles lies atop the watershed of Highland Creek, specifically West Highland Creek. The river's source is located in the neighbourhood: the L'Amoreaux pond behind Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School. The parkland around this pond is some of the most scenic in the neighbourhood.
An archaeological excavations led by Ron Williamson discovered the remains of a pre-modern aboriginal settlement next to the pond in L'Amoreaux Park that is the source of West Highland Creek. The excavation area, known as the Alexandra site, yielded some 20,000 archaeological artifacts from a Huron-Wendat village of approximately 1,000 inhabitants that thrived circa 1400 CE.
After many centuries of life in what is now Southern Ontario, the Huron-Wendat were driven out by the Six Nations. European settlers settled the area following the Toronto Purchase, who converted the area into farmland which, in turn, was developed into residential, commercial, and public buildings complemented by small lots of parkland. Before the neighbourhood was developed, much of the land was covered by deciduous forest. The L'Amoreaux woodlot is the only area that retains a significant amount of original vegetation.
Most residential development was completed by the early 1980s. Shepton Way was developed over the last farm in the neighbourhood. Development is mostly complete in the neighbourhood, save for some new homes and businesses that continue to be built.
Population (2006): 24,705
- Children (0-14): 3,170 (12.8%)
- Youth (15-24): 3,680 (14.9%)
- Working Age (25-64): 13,930 (56.4%)
- Seniors (65+): 3,920 (15.9%)
- Male: 11,830 (47.9%)
- Female: 12,875 (52.1%)
Ethnicity (2001): Nearly 60% of residents are of Chinese descent. There are also significant populations of East-Indians, Greeks, English, Scottish, Italians, Irish, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Guyanaese and Filipinos.
Income (2001): Median family income is $54,109, although a notable gap exists between rich and poor. While 18.6% of families generate over $100,000 in annual income, the second largest income bracket (12.1%) consists of families that make between $20,000 and $29,999 per annum.
Poverty (2001): 19% of residents live in poverty. This is down from the 27% poverty rate in 1996. Up to 17% of youth are unemployed. Of those employed, 22.1% of youth earn low incomes; 57.5% of these are recent immigrants (1996–2001).
Housing (2001): 80% of dwellings are owned; 20% are rented. Most (51%) are single-detached houses. 35.1% are apartments in buildings that have five or more storeys. These apartments are concentrated within Bamburgh Circle. Row houses (7.8%), semi-detached houses (2.8%), and other kinds of apartments round out the remaining dwellings.
Other (2006, 2001): Relative to the rest of Toronto, Steeles has more youth (14.9%; +2.2), seniors (15.9%; +1.8), immigrants (72.3%), visible minorities (81.2%), and Canadian citizens (85.1%), but fewer children (12.8%; -3.6) and aboriginals (0.1%).
Small and medium-sized businesses bookend the east and west sides of the community; most commercial outlets are concentrated in the west between Victoria Park and Pharmacy. Within this commercial area, the Bank of Montreal has a major Institute for Learning facility. Bamburgh Gardens Shopping Plaza is the largest shopping centre in Steeles. It can be found in the middle of the neighbourhood at 375 Bamburgh Circle, one block south of Steeles off Warden (east side). Other small and medium-sized business centres include Passmore Shoppers, and Victoria Park Business Centre.
Both TCDSB and TDSB operate one secondary school in the neighbourhood. TCDSB operates Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, whereas TDSB operates Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute. In addition to secondary schools, both school boards also operate several public schools in the neighbourhood. They include:
- Kennedy Public School (TDSB)
- Saint Maximilian Kolbe Catholic School (TCDSB)
- Sir Ernest MacMillan Senior Public School (TDSB)
- Sir Samuel B. Steele Junior Public School (TDSB)
- St. Henry Catholic School (TCDSB)
- Terry Fox Public School. (TDSB)
The French first language public secular school board, Conseil scolaire Viamonde, and it separate counterpart, Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir also offer schooling to applicable residents of Morningside, although they do not operate a school in the neighbourhood, with CSCM/CSV students attending schools situated in other neighbourhoods in Toronto.
Steeles is part of the federal and provincial electoral district of Scarborough—Agincourt. Municipally, the neighbourhood is part of Ward 39.
Voter turn-out is generally lower than regional averages in elections for all three levels of government. In spite of voter apathy, Liberal candidates are very popular here as Gerry Phillips (Member of Provincial Parliament) and Jim Karygiannis (Member of Parliament) have been re-elected numerous times. Conservative candidates tend to finish second; New Democrats third; Greens fourth. Independent candidates and smaller parties run occasionally but garner few votes.
Municipal candidates tend not to run on party slates. Sherene Shaw represented Ward 39 up until she was narrowly defeated in 2003 by Mike Del Grande. Only 401 votes, or 3.3% of the vote, separated the two candidates.
Ideologically, representatives tend to be fiscal conservatives, though their social attitudes vary. While most tend to be tolerant of ethnic diversity, some are socially moderate while others have been accused of being racist and homophobic. Del Grande has allegedly made several racially contentious statements while Karygiannis remains one of the few Liberals to oppose same-sex marriage rights in Canada.
Steeles is home to several municipal parks that feature playgrounds, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, fitness centres, gymnasia, and playing fields for soccer, football, and cricket. Municipal parks are managed by the Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division. In addition to municipal parks, the division also manages L'Amoreaux Community Centre, located in the southeast of the neighbourhood.
Municipal parks in Steeles include:
- Bamburgh Park
- Fundy Bay Park
- Gold Medal Park
- Huntsmill Park
- L'Amoreaux Park
- Sanwood Park
- Shepton Park
- Terry Fox Park
- Warden Avenue Park
- Mary Ward Multimedia Exhibition. A large-scale, installation-based art and technology exhibition held every spring at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School. Juxtapose was the inaugural show in 1998, followed by Katharsis ('99), Vertigo ('00), Incognito ('01), Manifesto ('02), Axis ('03), Ism ('04), Merge ('05), Enigma ('06), Recollect ('07), Echo ('08), Eccentrick ('09), and Tempest ('10).
- Guyana Festival. Held every summer at the L'Amoreaux Community Centre, the festival marks the anniversary of Guyana's Independence, and has earned the distinction of being the largest annual gathering of Guyanese out of Guyana.
Roads are used by automobiles and serviced by public transit, particularly Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) bus system. York Region Transit buses also pass through the area. Major roadways in Steeles includes Victoria Park Avenue, a north-south road that acts as the neighbourhood's western boundary, and Steeles Avenue, which acts as Steeles' northern boundary. The nearest highways are the Don Valley Parkway (404) to the west, the Express Toll Route (407) to the north, and the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway (401) to the south.
Although there are no designated bike lanes in the neighbourhood, cyclists often share the roads in addition to using the sidewalks along them and bicycle paths in parks. Such paths are also commonly used for walking and inline skating.
- Wesley Williams, Canadian rapper and hip hop artist known as Maestro (formerly Maestro Fresh Wes).
- Jay Manuel, make-up artist, fashion photographer, host of Canada's Next Top Model.
- Craig Kielburger, child rights advocate and author, (co-founder of Free The Children)
- Pat Mastroianni and Cassie Steele, actors (Degrassi: The Next Generation TV series)
- Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, singers of the band Dala
- Main source: "First Nations history in L'Amoreaux recognized," by Mike Adler, Scarborough Mirror, 2008.11.19.
- Source: Statistics Canada: 2001, 2006 Census.