Aerial photo of residential neighbourhood.
Here + Now,  History + Community

Interviews with People Living On the Danforth

Traditionally, the Danforth is considered to be a primarily Greek community, with its countless Greek restaurants, Greek street signs, and annual “Taste of the Danforth” food festival serving as indicators of the neighbourhood’s rich cultural ties. But what are the causes and effects of the Danforth’s evolutionary transformation away from its formerly exclusive Greek identity? Although this is a long, unfinished process, the Danforth is very different than it was just a few years ago due to the newer demographic of residents and visitors influencing the area. The following interviews with Danforth locals demonstrate the differences and similarities between newer and long-term residents to help personify one of Toronto’s most beloved neighbourhoods.

Q: Can you tell us your name, age, and what you do for a living?

Raza: My name is Raza. I’m 36 years old and I’m a compliance and ethics consultant for technology firms. I have also created my own content and public relations firm focused on technology and social impact.

Krissia: My name is Krissia. I’m 33 and a single mother to a six-year-old boy. I have been on long-term disability for depression since he was a year old. In the meantime, I’ve taken up stand-up comedy and event photography.

Phyllis: I’m Phyllis. I’m 64 years old and I do freelance writing and teach business communication workshops.

Q: How long have you lived in the Danforth? Where did you live beforehand?

Raza: Since 2015. Before living here, my wife and I lived in Casa Loma and then in Liberty Village for a few months, but we realized that we wanted to stay in one place for longer and try to buy a house.

Krissia: My parents and I moved to the area in 2001. We lived in Leslieville in the 90s and were pushed out when gentrification started to occur around us. My parents wanted to stay in the east end, so we began to look for homes east of Coxwell.

Phyllis: Since 1985. I’m American by birth, but I moved to Toronto and bought a house between Coxwell and Woodbine because it was the only thing I could afford at the time.

Q: What are some changes you’ve noticed happening around the Danforth?

Raza: I notice businesses in the Danforth changing as the area becomes more diverse. But it’s sad because there have been some really good, iconic places that have shut down as a result. The shootings that happened around Danforth and Broadview were also a negative thing, but I think it has had positive outcomes with the community coming together after that sad moment.

Krissia: There seems to be a lot of home renovations happening and it feels like we’re always under construction. The bike lanes on Woodbine were also a major but good change.

Phyllis: A big change is with the prices of houses. My ex-husband bought our house for $40,000 in the 80s. You didn’t have to be rich to get in the housing market, but now, a lot of stores are being priced out because of rent. The Taste of the Danforth is also a victim of its own success. When it first started, it was truly a local festival. Now, there are too many people and the food is pricier and it’s the same that you can get any other time of year. It just doesn’t feel like a community thing anymore.

Q: What makes the Danforth feel like home to you?

Raza: My wife and I—before she was my wife—had our first date at Pizza Libretto on the Danforth. Now, our neighbours here say hello to us every day. My wife and I just had a baby about five months ago and my brother-in-law also moved closer to us. We’re definitely going to live here long-term.

Krissia: I feel connected to the heartbeat of Toronto, especially because of our subway line. We have a community feel with all the luxuries of living in the big city. I think I’ll live in the Danforth for the rest of my life. No other place feels like home.

Phyllis: The Danforth of the 80s was really Greek. My family doesn’t live in Toronto but my Greek neighbours really embraced me. I remember when I was in my eighth month of pregnancy, I wanted to dig up my front yard one day. Once I had started, my Greek neighbours ran over to me and dragged me away, saying that I was going to hurt my baby. That made me feel like I had a family who cared about me, and the language barrier didn’t even matter. I see people here who I’ve known for twenty years and even if I don’t know some by name, we usually have a mutual friend. I feel like if I moved out of the neighbourhood, I might as well leave the city because my whole life is here—where else would I go? Sometimes I think it would be nice for the Danforth to go back to what it was, but that’s unrealistic to say and there are so many nice places that have opened up and good things that have happened as a result of the evolving neighbourhood.

Change is inevitable, but can be both beneficial (especially in hindsight) and challenging at the same time. Raza, Krissia, and Phyllis all have varying experiences living on the Danforth, and yet, share a deep-rooted love for the community that they call home, no matter how it continues to grow and evolve.

Do you have any stories or memories to share about living on the Danforth? Let us know in the comment section below!

*Interviewee answers have been edited for clarity and length.


  • Mark

    It’s interesting to hear the different perspectives from these people, and how each of them has had a different series of experiences and reasons to call the Danforth home! Great article!

  • Leslie

    I enjoyed reading about the experiences of each person interviewed. It is amazing how the Danforth has changed so much in the Last 30+ years. Great read.

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