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Ontario's top 10 historic downtowns

Copper1212

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Cobourg is my hometown and I believe well deserved on the list.

One thing I appreciate about Cobourg is that, yes, there is an historic downtown but just a block away is a modern day thriving waterfront. A lot of the places with historic cores cling to it so much because its all they can offer.



Victoria Hall, Cobourg by Ross Dunn, on Flickr




Downtown Cobourg by Kiril Strax, on Flickr




DSCN0132 Street fair, Cobourg, Ontario by pvalentine1, on Flickr


Cobourg 5 by Sean_Marshall, on Flickr

As I was saying while not necessarily historic in built form, the waterfront being connected to the downtown adds to the vitality of both.


Cobourg Marina by Pouncer 2, on Flickr



Cobourg Beach by Saugh30, on Flickr
 

W. K. Lis

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You'd think that Toronto or maybe even Ottawa would be on the list.

The City of Toronto was created in 1834. Using this map, what would you consider "historic". (Lot Street is now called Queen Street.)
Toronto1834.gif


As for the former Town of York, which was created in 1793, the boundaries of the town were:
York1793.jpg

on the west George Street, on the east Ontario Street, on the north by Duchess Street [now Richmond Street], and on the south Palace Street [now Front Street].

I would tend to keep "historic" north of Front Street and around Parliament Street. Unfortunately, how many "historic" buildings are still left in the area?


See this link.
 

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ShonTron

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In terms of intact Victorian and Edwardian era architecture, retail vibrancy and mix of local and tourist uses, I almost totally agree with the list in the OP. Though Port Perry? It's not bad (actually Queen Street is charming), but I might have gone with Picton or Lindsay instead. St. Mary's is very charming, but I feel it's a little undersized and lacking in business vibrancy that makes a great downtown.

As for runners-up, I would easily choose Huntsville (which is similar to Bracebridge in terms of character and downtown composition), Orillia, Kincardine, Orangeville, Collingwood, Gravenhurst (and Picton and Lindsay).

Amongst the worst downtowns in terms of architectural merit, vibrancy and attractions are Welland, Cornwall, Brantford, Niagara Falls (despite recent attempts), and sadly, Windsor.
 

Hank

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Kingston has a nice downtown, but I was really surprised when I was there a month ago or so and it seemed like about one in three stores downtown were closed or for lease. Has Kingston fallen on hard times recently? I don't remember it being like that when I went to university there about 15 years ago. Most of the old favourites are still there (Woodenheads, White Mountain, the Copper Penny, etc), but even some big retailers like the Indigo are shuttered.
 

ShonTron

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This could be a really good conversation, and I hope this thread remains vibrant.

Kingston has a nice downtown, but I was really surprised when I was there a month ago or so and it seemed like about one in three stores downtown were closed or for lease. Has Kingston fallen on hard times recently? I don't remember it being like that when I went to university there about 15 years ago. Most of the old favourites are still there (Woodenheads, White Mountain, the Copper Penny, etc), but even some big retailers like the Indigo are shuttered.

Most of Kingston's heavy industry closed a while back (Alcan, Northern Telecom, plus cutbacks at DuPont/Invista) and a lot of the employment has long been based on the institutions (Ontario government decentralized offices, the hospitals, Queen's, RMC, St. Lawrence College, Canadian Forces, Corrections Canada, most of which are going anywhere, Kingston Pen closure notwithstanding). Plus there's always more students than ever. Regional tourism hasn't been especially hit either, since much of it is regional, rather than international. Or maybe I'm missing something.

The city does have a very nice diversity of restaurants and bars and still has good retail. But I was looking at Streetview just now of Princess Street (April 2012) and yeah, there are quite a few vacancies.

Perhaps rents have gone up? It's too bad Indigo pulled out but mostly because of its anchor status and the fact that it likely made downtown lose an independent bookstore back in the 1990s. (I'm not a fan of Indigo or Heather Reisman.)
 
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