Elia is a culturally diverse neighbourhood that has traditionally been home to many new Canadian families. Elia's plethora of high-rise apartment buildings in the Jane and Finch corridor help make it one of Toronto's most densely populated neighbourhoods.
York University and Black Creek Pioneer Village are located at the north end of this neighbourhood off Steeles Avenue. The Black Creek meanders through a series of connecting parks in the centre of this community providing an ideal recreational greenspace for residents to enjoy.
The earliest inhabitants in what is now known as Elia were the First Nations tribe which established a village along the banks of the Humber River, just to the north of present day Finch Avenue. This First Nations village was in existence from 1400 to 1550.
The pioneers who arrived in Elia in the late 1700's and early 1800's were of German descent. These pioneers travelled from Pennsylvania in oxen led Conestoga wagons with their cattle in tow. They were followed by English and Scottish families who settled in Elia in the 1820's.
The Elia name originated with the post office of William Snider which opened in 1878 at the south-west corner of Keele Street and Finch Avenue in Sniders general store. The two focal points of this farming community were the one room Elia schoolhouse and the Elia church. Both of these former landmarks were closed in 1956 when Elia's farms were sold to developers.
The Elia church renamed "Elijah", situated at 1130 Finch Avenue West, is all that remains of this historic hamlet whose landscape is now dominated by residential subdivisions and shopping plazas.
Elia's housing stock includes bungalows, split-level and two-storey semi-detached houses. There are some small pockets of detached homes here as well. All of the houses in this neighbourhood were constructed in the 1960's and 1970's.
Elia has one of the highest concentration of apartment buildings in Toronto. Many of these apartment towers are located around the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue. There are also many Ontario Housing apartment and townhouse complexes within this neighbourhood that offer rents geared towards income.
There are three shopping malls located at the crossroads of Jane Street and Finch Avenue. The Jane Finch Mall on the south-east corner is the largest of these three centres with seventy retail shops and services highlighted by national department stores. York Gate Mall located on the north-west corner contains over sixty stores including professional and medical offices. Norfinch Shopping Centre on the south-west corner is the place to eat with numerous fast food franchises located here.
Keele Street is another shopping destination with many shopping plazas, value centres, and food markets. The Jane-Sheppard shopping plaza also serves this community.
Elia residents have an abundance of recreational facilities to choose from. There are three community centres in this neighbourhood. The Driftwood Centre at 4401 Jane Street and the Northwood Centre at 15 Clubhouse Court offer numerous programs for children and adults. Both of these community centres have a gymnasium and an outdoor pool. The Yorkwood Community Recreation Centre at 20 Yorkwoods Gate is a small facility that runs tiny tot and after school programs. The Jane Finch Boys and Girls Club also operates out of this centre.
The Boake Greenbelt can be accessed from Northwood Park off Sheppard Avenue, just west of Keele Street. This parkland runs through the centre of the Elia neighbourhood and features a scenic 4.7 km bicycle and walking trail. This trail finishes at Black Creek Pioneer Village, which gives Elia residents a glimpse of what their community was like back in the 1800's. Black Creek Pioneer Village has over 35 restored pioneer buildings, a visitors centre and exhibit gallery, a restaurant, banquet facilities and seasonal events such as the Spring Fair and Christmas in the Village.
Elia is also filled with smaller parks that have various recreational facilities including tennis courts, sports fields, swimming pools, and children's playgrounds. Fountainhead Park at 445 Sentinel Road has an artificial ice rink. Indoor hockey and pleasure skating arenas are located at 23 Grandravine Drive and 230 Gosford Boulevard.
The York Woods Regional Library at 1785 Finch Avenue West offers programs for children and adults. Adjacent to the library is the York Woods Library theatre, a state of the art multi-purpose theatre that is used extensively by the local community.
An outdoor Fun Park located next to York Gate Mall includes mini golf, batting cages and bumper cars, as well as a licensed restaurant with a patio and bar.
Bus services along Sheppard, Finch and Steeles Avenues connect passengers to stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. The Keele and Jane Street buses travel south to subway stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway line.
Motorists are approximately five minutes from Highways 400 and 401 which link up with all the major highways leading into and out of the city.
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