Is it The Beach or The Beaches? This famous dispute is a long-standing debate going back to the 19th century. 'Pluralists' maintaining that since there are in fact, four distinct beaches, the singular isn't accurate while those who prefer the singular are adamant that it has been correct way since the four beaches were merged in to the one neighbourhood. The quarrel flared up in 1985 when The City Of Toronto installed 14 street signs with simply 'The Beaches' on them; they were eventually removed. In April 2006, it went to a vote with the 'The Beach' winning with 58% of the result. Regardless of your preference, though there are several other beaches in the city, Torontonians recognise either name as specifically referring to this neighbourhood.
The Beaches in question were originally a wooded area with a few private homes and some swampland. What we know as the current shoreline and the Kew Gardens private ground were appropriated by the Toronto Harbour Commission at the start of the 1900's. The beach was artifically enlarged and made continuous in 1930 with the public boardwalk and facilities officially opening for public usage in 1932. The Beach can claim to be one of the neighbourhoods with the largest variety of architectural styles in the city. A lot of the original frame beach cottages built in the latter half of the 1800's and early 1900's still stand, having been modernized. The majority of homes in The Beach were built in the 1920's and 1930's with the side-streets mostly populated by semi-detached and large Victorian houses, Edwardian and new-style homes.
Recreation is the reason most people flock to the Beach in the warmer months with the Boardwalk tying it all together. The Boardwalk runs parallel to the Martin Goodman Trail which travels the length of the city's waterfront from The Beach to the Humber River. Ashbridge's Bay Park is a favourite spot for picnics and all the activity that comes with having a beach near you: windsurfing, beach volleyball and boating just to name a few. The Donald Summerville Pool overlooks the lake at the foot of Woodbine Avenue and includes an Olympic swimming pool, children's pool and diving pool. There are a multitude of different schools in the area, among them are Junior schools (Adam Beck, Balmy Beach), Senior schools (Glen Ames), Alternative schools (Beaches Alternative), a high-school (Malvern Collegiate) and a Montessori (Avalon Children's Montessori).
Queen Street is the main shopping drag in The Beach with many of the stores carrying on the beach theme in many different ways, while independent specialty stores mirror the uniqueness of the area. One can find small but refined dining spots or quaint pub with the perfect patio to spend a summer night drinking in the beach breeze. With its lakeside resort feel, The Beach could make even the most hardened Torontonian feel that they may have stepped out of their city and into a pleasant coastal holiday town.