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institutions, businesses and St Casimir’s Catholic Church located along Roncesvalles Avenue. The businesses along Roncesvalles organized into the Business Improvement Area known as "Roncesvalles Village" hold an annual Polish Festival.
The neighbourhood is predominately residential, with a commercial strip the full length of Roncesvalles, composed predominately 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 garage. 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 have been converted into loft-style condominiums. At one time a large TTC bus garage was located along Sorauren and the 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.
Roncesvalles Avenue, looking south from Marmaduke Avenue
Location of Roncesvalles within Toronto
Country Province City Established Government - City Councillor - Federal M.P. - Provincial M.P.P.
Canada Ontario Toronto 1890 Subdivided Gord Perks Gerard Kennedy Cheri DiNovo
Roncesvalles ( [ˈɹɒnsəsveilz]) is a neighbourhood in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada centred around 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. An approximate boundary would be High Park to the west, Bloor and Dundas Streets to the north, Sorauren Avenue to the east, and Queen Street to the south. 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. Culturally, the area is known as the centre of the Polish community in Toronto, with prominent Polish
John Howard’s ’Sunnyside’ now St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto’s first Highway to the west was Dundas Street starting at Queen Street along today’s Ossington and west along its current path west to Dundas (near Hamilton). While Toronto’s boundary was Dufferin Street, a very early village mostly built around hotels sprang up along Dundas just before it met Ossington and entered Toronto; this was Brockton. The Subdivision of land for Brockton included the portion of the neighbourhood east of what is now Roncesvalles Avenue.
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although little of this was built on. The rest of what is now the Roncesvalles neighbourhood began as farm lots given to Toronto’s prominent Ridout family and the architect John George Howard. These men had careers in the city so little was done with their farmland most of which was never even cleared of the natural forest. Two houses were built by John Howard on these farms: Sunnyside (where St. Joseph’s Hospital is now), and Colborne Lodge (Mr. Howard’s own cottage built 1837) in what is now High Park. A path running through Sunnyside Farm was an Indian trail (now Indian Road) thought to have originally been an ancient Mississauga Indian path, leading from Lake Ontario north. In the 1850s, concurrent with the building of the railway, the central part of Brockton was separated from the Roncesvalles subdivided lands except for a small strip along Dundas between the railway and Bloor. Founding of Parkdale and annexations
High Park Carnegie Library
1895 Streetcar Yards on Roncesvalles Avenue north of Queen Street In 1850, Colonel O’Hara acquired the land north of Queen from Roncesvalles Avenue to just east of Lansdowne Avenue. In 1874, Colonel O’Hara died and his land was subdivided. Following the subdivision of two other farms south of Queen, a new village was rapidly took shape that in 1879 was incorporated, despite protests by the City of Toronto, as the Village of Parkdale. The subdivision of O’Hara’s land and the streets laid out after his death had names related to his family, largely superseded the Brockton subdivision south of the railway between Roncesvalles and Sorauren. Development in Parkdale crept up Sorauren Ave and there was even some building on Roncesvalles Avenue before a series of annexations brought Parkdale (1889), Brockton (1884) and the surrounding farmland (including Sunnyside farm) into the City of Toronto. In all there were 13 separate annexations by the City of Toronto between 1883 and 1893. Roncesvalles Neighbourhood develops When Parkdale was annexed to Toronto, streets were laid out or extended to Keele Street (this section later renamed Parkside Drive) and the street grid took the shape it has to this day. In the 1890s the intersection of Roncesvalles and Queen became more important as a Lake Shore streetcar was built enabling residents of Toronto to travel to the west for recreation more easily. A streetcar yard was added at the intersection in 1895.
Old Howard Park Schoolhouse, 1909 The Sunnyside railway station at the intersection was opened in 1912. At the turn of the century the first school was built in the neighbourhood, the Old Howard Park school on Boustead Avenue. Although a number of Victorian homes had already been built extending north from Parkdale, the neighbourhood was largely built from 1900 until the First World War with almost all houses built in the ’foursquare’ style. Originally these homes were designed for the middle class while wealthier homes were found in Parkdale. Also at this time, the first four Carnegie Libraries were opened in Toronto. Apart from the Central Library all (three) libraries were identical, one of them being the High Park branch on Roncesvalles Avenue. The three original churches were also built at this time; St Vincent de Paul (Roman Catholic), St Jude’s (Anglican) and Howard Park Emmanuel (United Church). In the later years of its development, Roncesvalles began to attract some wealthier families and many impressive homes were built from 1910-1930 on High Park Gardens and High Park Boulevard. The lakefront was developed by the Toronto Harbour Commission in the 1910s, leading to the development of the Sunnyside Beach and Amusement Park in 1922. Its popularity spurred development of the area commercially. The foot of Roncesvalles became a commercial and transportation hub, with a train station, a bus depot and the streetcar loop. The Park was demolished for the
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Gardiner Expressway project in 1955 and the Sunnyside intersection bypassed, leading to a decline in commerce and residential values in the area. The wealthy moved away from the area to newer suburbs further west and many local large homes being divided into apartments. However, Roncesvalles has remained largely middle class, attracting an influx of successful immigrants especially from Poland reversing the relationship between Roncesvalles and Parkdale. St Casimir’s Catholic Church was built to serve the growing Polish community in 1948.
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 public school.
Centre of Toronto’s Polish community
Memorial to Katyn Victims Pope John Paul II visited the neighbourhood when he came to Toronto in 1984. He dined at the Sir Nicholas Tavern, which is now the site of the coffee shop Tinto. 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 around a statue of Pope John Paul 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. 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 recognized as the centre of the Polish community, the ethnic makeup of the area around Roncesvalles Avenue varies widely, as is the case throughout
The Pope John Paul II statue at Fern Avenue The street is the centre of Toronto’s Polish community. There are several Polish-speaking restaurants, delicatessens and shops specializing in Polish goods on Roncesvalles Avenue. The sign "Mówimy po polsku" ("We speak Polish") is displayed in many storefronts. The office of Gazeta, Toronto’s Polish language newspaper, is located on Roncesvalles Avenue as is the headquarters of the Polish-Canadian National Congress. In Poland, the Catholic faith is predominant, and this is the case for persons of Polish descent 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
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Toronto, one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities (see Demographics of Toronto).
churches, Emmanuel - Howard Park, High Park Baptist and the Annunciation Of The Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Another, St. Jude Anglican, was demolished and the site converted to condominiums. High Park Baptist, founded as the Hewitt Avenue Mission in 1908, was originally a outpost of Walmer Road Baptist Church. At the time, Roncesvalles was largely unpopulated, with the Eaton family home on Indian Road being one of the only residences in the area. The original building has been expanded several times, culminating in the construction of a unique circular sanctuary in 1927. Located at the corner of Hewitt Avenue and Roncesvalles (one block north of Howard Park Avenue), High Park Baptist holds Sunday services, small group Bible studies in the church and local homes, and hosts "Room To Roam" a drop-in for parents and children in the neighbourhood, a popular food and clothing bank, summer day camps for local children, and more. Emmanuel - Howard Park, located at the corner of Roncesvalles and Wright Avenues, operates a mission and a daycare. The church was renamed Emmanuel Howard Park in 1972, following the merger of its congregation with that of Howard Park United Church. Cheri DiNovo was the pastor of the church until she was elected as the current MPP of High Park-Parkdale in 2006. The former Howard Park Church is located at Sunnyside and Marmaduke and is being converted into housing. 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.
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, food stands and outdoor musical entertainment, including polka music. In 2006, over 75,000 people attended the festival.
Roncesvalles Festival in 2006.
Westside performing at the festival in 2006.
View of the crowds in 2008.
Culture and commerce
The popular repertory movie theatre Revue Cinema, at the intersection of Roncesvalles and Howard Park Avenue first opened its doors in 1911. It recently 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 which 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.
The large St. Joseph’s Health Centre at Sunnyside and The Queensway in the south of the district has been on the site since the 1840s, being first the site of the Sisters of St. Joseph Order, then an orphanage and later the hospital. The Order still operates the hospital. It occupies the site of Sunnyside Lodge, the first home of John Howard. The street is home to several independent drugstores, including the fixture Solarski Pharmacy which is one of Toronto’s oldest pharmacies. There is also a Guardian Pharmacy just a few stores south of Solarski.
The High Park branch of the Toronto Public Library, a Carnegie library, is located at Wright Avenue. It was opened in 1915, and renovated in 1980.
There are several elementary public schools nearby, including Fern Avenue, Garden Avenue, Howard Public School and St. Vincent de Paul. Graduates of these schools move on to the nearby Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton, Humberside, Parkdale, Western Technical and West Toronto high schools.
There are numerous small businesses, which are mostly independent. These include gift shops, drug stores, grocers, health food stores, dollar shops, book stores, video stores, hardware stores and law offices. The former S.S. Kresge store, now a Royal Bank, was built in 1936 and retains its original Kresge signage.
In addition to the two Catholic churches described above, the neighbourhood has three other large
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Roncesvalles is well-known for the large number of small restaurants, cafés and food shops of various cuisines as well as Polish. There are several bakeries and several delicatessens.
The opening ball of the High Park Curling and Lawn Bowling Club in 1911, by F. W. Micklethwaite The current rink was opened in 1911. There are two tennis clubs in High Park. Along the lakefront, there are rowing clubs including the Argonaut Club. The Boulevard Club operates tennis and boating facilities.
Former linseed oil factory, and future Wabash Recreational Centre on Wabash Ave. The Roncesvalles area has several parks and sporting facilities. The schools of the neighbourhood also provide facilities, including swimming pools for school-age children. The intersection of Roncesvalles, Queen and King streets has long been a transportation hub of the city of Toronto. Passenger trains first served the area in 1855. In the 1890s the location became the hub of commuter streetcars going as far west as Port Credit. In 1895, Toronto Railway Company (forerunner of the TTC) built the Roncesvalles streetcar yards, which continue to dominate the northwest corner. The intersection itself is famous for its huge number of streetcar tracks, possibly the most numerous in the city. The area has also been home to two other TTC yards, one streetcar yard in the triangle formed by Howard Park Avenue, Dundas Street West and Ritchie Avenue, and the bus garage on Sorauren Ave on the current site of Sorauren Park.
The largest park in the area is High Park (400 acres) to the west with playgrounds, Grenadier Pond, a zoo, baseball diamonds, outdoor swimming pool and forest. A new park, Sorauren Park, was created at the intersection of Sorauren Avenue and Wabash Avenue on the site of a former bus garage. It now holds two tennis courts, two soccer fields and a fieldhouse. A playground is across Wabash from the park. At the site, a former linseed oil factory is now in the ownership of the City and is earmarked for a future recreation centre. To the south of the area, the Sunnyside lakefront provides playgrounds, picnic areas, the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, a boardwalk, a recreation trail and beaches.
High Park provides baseball diamonds and organized youth baseball programs. High Park also has two soccer fields, tennis courts and an artificial ice rink in the winter. West Toronto Collegiate on Lansdowne Avenue to the east provides an all-weather track and a soccer field. The closest hockey arena is at McCormick, east of Lansdowne. There are several club-run facilities. High Park Curling Club on Indian Road is Toronto’s oldest curling club.
The TTC’s Roncesvalles Carhouse, at Roncesvalles and The Queensway. Today, the area is well served with the Dundas West and Keele subway stations to the north at Bloor Street. The 501, 504, 505, 506, and 508 streetcars provide frequent service and the Queensway bus provides service along Parkside Avenue from Keele station. GO Transit operates trains along the Lakeshore rail line, although no longer stopping at Sunnyside, now stopping nearest at Exhibition Place. There are GO trains
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operating along the CN/CP lines to the east, stopping at Bloor Street and Dundas Street West. There once was an intercity bus depot at the northwest corner of Roncesvalles and Queen, now converted to a fast-food restaurant. This took over from the commuter streetcars, although streetcars do travel as far west as Long Branch from Roncesvalles. The former Toronto - Sunnyside passenger train station, providing intercity train connections, on the Great Western line opened in 1910 at the foot of Roncesvalles. It replaced the railway station located at Jameson and Springhurst, that opened in 1879. Sunnyside station shut in 1971 and was demolished in 1973.
• Sunnyside Ave, Parkside Dr, Colborne Lodge Drive (in High Park), Howard Park Avenue, High Park Gardens, High Park Boulevard, High Park Ave (in the High Park neighbourhood) - all relate to John Howard. • Grenadier Road - (Grenadiers from Fort York were the first regular users of High Park). • Ridout Street - the Ridout family • Indian Road, Indian Grove, Indian Road Crescent, Indian Valley Crescent, Indian Trail and Algonquin Ave - all named after the old native path.
• 2005 - Outdoor memorial mass for Pope John Paul II on Roncesvalles Avenue. • 1984 - Pope John Paul II visit, with open-air mass at Exhibition Place. • 1980 - Erection of Katyn monument. • 1979 - Copernicus Lodge retirement home opens. • 1971 - Sunnyside railway station closes. Demolished in 1973. • 1963 - The Sphynx cat is alleged to have originated from a litter born in a Roncesvalles Avenue alley. • 1958 - Gardiner Expressway opens. • 1955 - Demolition of Sunnyside Amusement Park. The Lakeshore Road is closed from the foot of Roncesvalles, the street ’The Queensway’ is built and streetcars are rerouted from the Lakeshore Road to The Queensway in a dedicated right-of-way. • 1952 - St. Casimir’s Church built. This coincides with the influx of Polish immigrants and the movement of Polish Torontonians from the Queen Street West area around St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. • 1930 - City acquires last part of High Park property, bringing total to 400 acres (162 ha). • 1922 - Palais Royale opens at foot of Roncesvalles. • 1922 - Sunnyside Amusement Park opens. • 1921 - St. Joseph’s Hospital established. • 1915 - High Park Library opens. • 1912 - Revue Cinema opens. • 1910 - High Park Presbyterian Church at Wright and Roncesvalles built. (Now known as Emmanuel Howard Park.) • 1910 - Sunnyside railway station opens to replace South Parkdale railway station, closed after grade separation project completion. • 1908 - Hewitt Avenue Mission, now High Park Baptist Church, built at Hewitt and Roncesvalles. • 1905 - Parkdale Canoe Club founded. Now known as Boulevard Club. First club building built in 1915 at foot of Roncesvalles. • 1895 - Roncesvalles streetcar yard built. • 1889 - Annexation of Parkdale by Toronto. • 1884 - Annexation of Sunnyside farm into Toronto. • 1884 - Annexation of Brockton Village into Toronto.
Roncesvalles Avenue is to be reconstructed in 2010, partially owing to the need to rebuild the streetcar tracks. The City has proposed reconstructing the roadway to incorporate roadway narrowing and sidewalk improvements. The proposal is currently in the Environmental Assessment (EA) process due to the scale of the project, which will also replace water mains under the street. The preferred proposal to create ’transit platforms’ to extend to the streetcar doors at transit stops is expected to receive EA and City Council approval in summer/fall 2009 with detailed design to follow and construction to follow starting either in late 2009 or 2010.
The City of Toronto defines three official neighbourhoods that have boundaries on Roncesvalles Avenue. To the west, the official neighbourhood is High ParkSwansea. To the east, the official neighbourhood is named "Roncesvalles". To the southeast of Roncesvalles Avenue is "South Parkdale".
• Roncesvalles Avenue - O’Hara named after the Battle of Roncesvalles which took place in the Roncesvalles gorge in Spain in 1813 in which he led a regiment that fought against the retreating army of Napoleon. • Sorauren Avenue - named after the Battle of Sorauren at which Col. O’Hara was present. • Marion, after his wife, • Constance, after his daughter, • Geoffrey, after one son, • Fermanagh, the county in Ireland of his birth, • O’Hara Avenue and West Lodge Avenue both to the east. • Grenadier Road used to be named Walter Avenue. • Fern Avenue used to be named Ruth Avenue. Other street names have historical connections:
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• 1876 - Sunnyside Residence, orphanage on grounds of then Sunnyside Lodge, and now the site of current St. Joseph’s opens, operated by Sisters of St. Joseph. • 1873 - Most of High Park given to city by John Howard. • 1856 - Grand Trunk Railway, running north-south to the east of Roncesvalles is built. Stations at Dufferin and Queen and at Dundas and Dupont. • 1855 - Great Western Railway rail line along Lake Ontario to Hamilton is built. Station at foot of Jameson and Springhurst built in 1879. • 1850 - Col. O’Hara acquires 420 acres (170 ha) to the east side of Roncesvalles, north of Queen Street, as part of compensation for helping to put down 1837 Rebellion. • • • • High Park Parkdale Polish Canadian Sunnyside Amusement Park
   
This list is always likely to be incomplete. • Percy Quinn - Humanitarian, alderman, businessman, professional hockey team owner. Lived at 92 Roncesvalles until his death in 1944. • William George Caulfield - founded Caulfield’s Dairy at 45 Howard Park Avenue in 1888. • Clara Humberston - Writer of scientific and natural history articles, lived at 50 Indian Trail. • Archie McKishnie and Jean Blewett - brother and sister writers, lived at 353 Sunnyside Avenue. McKishnie wrote historical novels about pioneer life; Blewett wrote poetry and was an editor for the Globe and Mail. • John Patterson - founder of Patterson Chocolates, which had a factory at 951-7 Queen Street West, lived at 71 Indian Grove. • Lt. Col. Hon. William Herbert Price, K.C - solicitor, MLA, Ontario attorney general, Ontario treasurer, lived at 7 Indian Grove. • Dr. Morton Shulman - Former Coroner of Toronto, outspoken local NDP MPP of Parkdale-High Park and TV talk show host operated a family medical practice on Roncesvalles until he retired. • Frederick Zeidler - German soldier and Iron Cross recipient and chemist, eventual president of Dickinson Dyeworks at 884 Dufferin Avenue. He lived with his family at 60 High Park Boulevard. • Professor Elwood S Moore - Royal Society of Canada, Professor of Geology-University of Toronto, Surveyor, Author, most noteable - the textbooks Ontario Children used in school. Member of the Society of Friends. Lived first at 16 Indian Grove, then 18 Indian Grove. He was an advocate for the preservation of Indian Valley and its now lost creek.
  
• Gardiner Expressway
^ Tremaine’s Atlas of the County of York. 1860. Lundell, Liz (1997). The Estates of Old Toronto. Erin, ON: Boston Mills Press. ISBN 9781550462197. OCLC 37982092. Wandsworth & Unwins. Map of the Village of Parkdale [map]. (1879) City of Toronto Map showing annexations; City Engineering Department, 1967, City of Toronto Archives, published in Hayes, Derek (2008). Historical Atlas of Toronto. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 9781553652908. OCLC 244637445. Also OCLC 233582390 Chas. Goad Fire Insurance. Map of Toronto [map]. (1890) Stamp, Robert (1989). Riding the Radials: Toronto’s Suburban Electric Streetcar Lines. Erin, ON: Boston Mills Press. ISBN 9781550460087. OCLC 20266052. "www.towncrieronline.ca/main/ main.php?direction=viewstory&storyid=7297&rootcatid=&rootsubcatid=" http://www.towncrieronline.ca/main/ main.php?direction=viewstory&storyid=7297&rootcatid=&rootsubcatid=. "High Park Baptist website". http://www.highparkbaptist.org. Retrieved on 2009-02-13. "History of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Virgin Mary". Greek Community of Toronto. http://serv01.siteground177.com/~greekcom/ index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=87. Retrieved on 2009-03-16. "High Park Club". High Park Club. http://www.highparkclub.com/index.asp. Retrieved on 2008-10-15. "Roncesvalles Avenue - Streetscape Improvements Municipal Class Environmental Assessment". http://www.toronto.ca/involved/projects/ roncesvalles_streetscape/index.htm. Retrieved on 2009-03-23. "High Park-Swansea neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/ cns_profiles/cns87.htm. Retrieved on 2009-02-13. "Roncesvalles neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/cns_profiles/ cns86.htm. Retrieved on 2009-02-13. "South Parkdale neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/cns_profiles/ cns85.htm. Retrieved on 2009-02-13. "Ex-Alderman Noted Athlete". The Globe: p. 8. October 30, 1944. ^ Kluckner(1988), p. 206 Kluckner(1988), p.126
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http://www.parkdaleliberty.com/quickLinks/history.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-30.
• Filey, Mike (1996). I remember Sunnyside: the rise & fall of a magical era (Rev. ed.). Toronto: Dundurn Group. ISBN 9781550022742. OCLC 36746570. • Kluckner, Michael (1988). Toronto the way it was. Toronto, Ontario: Whitecap Books. ISBN 0921396023. • Laycock, Margaret; Myrvold, Barbara (1991). Parkdale in pictures : its development to 1889. Toronto: Toronto Public Library Board. ISBN 9780920601129. OCLC 23691977. • Parkdale Centennial Research (1978). Parkdale : a centennial history. Toronto: Parkdale Centennial Research. OCLC 43532595. • "PLEDC History Timeline". Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation.
• Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation • Roncesvalles Village BIA • Roncesvalles Parkdale events and Business Directory • Roncesvalles MacDonnell Residents Association • Roncesvalles Renewed
Coordinates: 43°38′46″N 79°26′57″W / 43.646231°N 79.449048°W / 43.646231; -79.449048