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    About

    Roncesvalles /ˈrɒnsəsvlz/ (or Roncesvalles Village) is a neighbourhood in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada centred on Roncesvalles Avenue, a north-south street leading from the intersection of King and Queen Streets to the south, north to Dundas Street West, a distance of roughly 1.5 kilometres. It is located east of High Park, north of Lake Ontario, in the Parkdale-High Park provincial and federal ridings and the municipal Ward 14. Its informal boundaries are High Park to the west, Bloor Street West to the north, Lake Ontario/Queen Street West to the south and Lansdowne Avenue/rail corridor to the east. Originally known as 'Howard Park', most of this area was formerly within the boundaries of Parkdale and Brockton villages and was annexed into Toronto in the 1880s....

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    Culturally, the area is known as the centre of the Polish community in Toronto with prominent Polish institutions, businesses and St Casimir's Catholic Church located on Roncesvalles Avenue. The businesses along Roncesvalles have formed the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area and hold an annual Polish Festival.

    History

    Roncesvalles /ˈrɒnsəsvlz/ (or Roncesvalles Village) is a neighbourhood in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada centred on Roncesvalles Avenue, a north-south street leading from the intersection of King and Queen Streets to the south, north to Dundas Street West, a distance of roughly 1.5 kilometres. It is located east of High Park, north of Lake Ontario, in the Parkdale-High Park provincial and federal ridings and the municipal Ward 14. Its informal boundaries are High Park to the west, Bloor Street West to the north, Lake Ontario/Queen Street West to the south and Lansdowne Avenue/rail corridor to the east. Originally known as 'Howard Park', most of this area was formerly within the boundaries of Parkdale and Brockton villages and was annexed into Toronto in the 1880s....

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    Culturally, the area is known as the centre of the Polish community in Toronto with prominent Polish institutions, businesses and St Casimir's Catholic Church located on Roncesvalles Avenue. The businesses along Roncesvalles have formed the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area and hold an annual Polish Festival.

    Character

    The neighborhood is predominantly residential, with a commercial strip the full length of Roncesvalles, composed predominantly of small businesses, churches and institutions. To the west of Roncesvalles, the area is nearly completely residential except for St. Joseph's Health Centre and a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) streetcar barn. East of Roncesvalles along the CN and CP rail lines is an older industrial area that is in transition. Several of the buildings along Sorauren Avenue have been converted into loft-style condominiums. At one time a large TTC bus garage was located along Sorauren Avenue; this property has been converted into Sorauren Park. Two other old industrial buildings along Wabash are owned by the City of Toronto, and are slated for a future community centre project. One of the buildings currently serves as a clubhouse for the Park.

    The City of Toronto defines three official neighbourhoods as having boundaries with Roncesvalles Avenue. To the west, the official neighbourhood is High Park-Swansea. To the east, the official neighbourhood is named "Roncesvalles" - often referred to as "Roncy". To the southeast of Roncesvalles Avenue is "South Parkdale".

    Culture

    The street has long been known as the cultural and commercial centre of Toronto's Polish community. A number of Polish-speaking restaurants, delicatessens and shops specializing in Polish goods are located on Roncesvalles Avenue. The sign "Mówimy po polsku" ("We speak Polish") is displayed in some storefronts.

    In Poland, the Catholic faith is predominant, and this is the case for persons of Polish descent ('Polonia') in Canada. There are two large Catholic churches on Roncesvalles. St. Casimir's Roman Catholic Church offers Polish-language masses every Sunday. St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, at Westminster Avenue, holds masses in English and Latin.

    The public library branch holds a collection of Polish-language books and magazines. Polish-language lessons are part of the curriculum at St. Vincent de Paul separate school.

    An enormous memorial was held on Roncesvalles Avenue when Pope John Paul II died, with standing room only on the street and sidewalks of Roncesvalles from Marion Avenue to Wright Avenue. The memorial was loosely centred on a statue of the Pope located at the St. Stanislaus-St. Casimir's Credit Union, a credit union for people of Polish descent. A tribute of candles and flowers around the statue continues today. When Pope John Paul II visited Toronto in 1984, he had visited Roncesvalles and dined at the Sir Nicholas Restaurant at 89 Roncesvalles.

    At the southern end of Roncesvalles Avenue, at the Sunnyside intersection of King, Queen, Queensway and Roncesvalles streets, two monuments are erected in memory of two events in Polish history. A large monument in memory of the massacre of Polish prisoners of war during World War II, and especially the mass graves of officers found in Katyn forest. Fresh wreaths are placed there regularly. Next to it is a memorial to thousands of Polish citizens deported to Siberian labour camps during the Second World War.

    While still recognized as a centre of the Polish community, the ethnic makeup of the area around Roncesvalles Avenue varies widely, as is the case throughout Toronto. According to the 2006 census figures, in Ward 14, which includes Roncesvalles, there were 2,775 residents who identified Polish as their mother tongue, or 5.5% of the population. This is the second-largest group after English. According to the 2011 census, the overall number of residents of Toronto who identify Polish as their mother tongue is 27,880.

    Polish Festival

    The Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area holds an annual Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival each fall, closing Roncesvalles Avenue to vehicular traffic. The festival features amusement rides, clothing, craft and food stands and outdoor musical entertainment, including polka music. In 2011, an estimated 300,000 people attended the festival. The official patron of the festival is the Polish Consulate. It is considered the largest Polish festival in North America.

    Theatres

    The popular repertory movie theatre Revue Cinema, at the intersection of Roncesvalles and Howard Park Avenue first opened its doors in 1911. It closed for a year as part of the dissolution of the Festival Cinemas chain. It reopened as a non-profit operation of the Revue Film Society. The Society laboured for a year to find a way to reopen the Revue, and partnered with a local couple who purchased the theatre and now leases it to the Society.

    Another theatre, the Brighton, closed in the mid-1980s. It is in use as a convenience store, although it has not been renovated, other than its marquee signage removed.

    Music

    The area has several bars and restaurants with live music. Gate 403, located at 403 Roncesvalles is a jazz bar with live music daily. The Local pub offers live music daily. Inter Steer offers live music twice a week. Loons Restaurant & Pub offers live music on Friday nights. Latinada, on Bloor Street west of Dundas, is a Tapas bar with live music. Zagłoba restaurant also offers live music. On Dundas Street just north of Roncesvalles, Hugh's Room books folk, jazz and blues daily.

    Annually in June, the "Roncy Rocks" one-day music and art show is held outdoors along Roncesvalles. Several side streets off Roncesvalles are closed and musical stages and art displays installed. Musicians and artists are mostly local to the community.

    Libraries

    The High Park branch of the Toronto Public Library, a Carnegie library, is located at Wright Avenue. It was opened in 1916, and renovated in 1979 and again in 1991.

    Institutions

    Schools

    • Fern Avenue Public School is a public elementary school and middle school on Fern Avenue, east of Roncesvalles.
    • Garden Avenue Junior Public School is a public elementary school on Garden Avenue west of Roncesvalles. It was founded in 1957 and was known as Argentina Junior P.S. between 1961 and 1982, but this was changed back to the original name during the Falklands conflict.
    • Howard Junior Public School is a public elementary school on Marmaduke Street at Sunnyside Avenue.
    • St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Elementary School is a Catholic elementary school on Fermanagh Avenue east of Roncesvalles. It was founded in 1914 operating out of a storefront on Roncesvalles Avenue, across the street from the church. With the end of the war in 1918, a separate building was constructed for the school behind the church on Westminster Ave., which was run by Sisters of Loreto. The school was extended to Fermanagh Avenue shortly after. Problems with low enrollment threatened the existence of the school which was considered for closure during a reorganisation of the Metropolitan Separate School Board (which became the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) ) and general changes of demographics.

    Four high schools that serve Roncesvalles are Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton, Humberside, Parkdale, and Western Tech high schools. Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton was formerly West Park Secondary School and is now leased by the TCDSB. Two francophone high schools (École secondaire catholique Saint-Frère-André and École secondaire Toronto Ouest) operate nearby on Lansdowne Avenue in the former West Toronto Collegiate building.

    Churches

    The Annunciation Of The Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Cathedral is located at Sorauren Avenue and Galley Avenue. Until 1961, it was the North Parkdale United Church, when it was purchased for $160,000. It was elevated to Cathedral status in 1967. Its interior was damaged by fire in 2000 but was refurbished.

    Roncesvalles United Church, located at Wright Avenue, operates a missio

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