Riverside 40 Years, 40 Stories: ‘De Grassi Street’ vs ‘Degrassi Street’

Right here in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, there’s De Grassi Street: originally named for the soldier, Filippo “Philip” De Grassi (1793–1877) was an Italian ‘soldier of fortune and influential player in the Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada’.

Then there’s’ Degrassi Street’! The street was made famous locally and internationally after it inspired the hit TV series franchise, including: the Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, Degrassi: The Next Generation (which starred now famed artist Drake), and Degrassi: Next Class…

De Grassi Street Sign

Kids of Degrassi Street

Yes, De Grassi Street is located right here in Riverside, and has a wonderful historical residential character. Many of its homes date back to the 1880s and were built in the distinctive tall, narrow bay-and-gable style. It runs one-way northbound from Queen Street East north to Gerrard Street, and is located approximately halfway between Broadview and Carlaw Avenues.

Also known as workman’s cottages, these (see example at 52 De Grassi) were built originally for workers in the many manufacturing companies that operated around these parts; before the turn of the last century, they comprised the most common form of small house in Ontario. Take a self-guided walk and learn more about the architecture of these homes with our Riverside Architecture Self-Guided Walk.

Example of a Workers Cottage at 52 De Grassi Street

At the corner of Queen and De Grassi Street sits Bonjour Brioche, a famed cafe locally and Toronto-wide for over 25 years. But did you know, the cafe appears in ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’?

Fun fact: The train underpass at De Grassi Street appears in ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Orphan Black’ (Side note: are you a Film/TV buff – we’ve got the Riverside’s Film/TV self-guided walking tour. Check out the rest of the stops here!)

Bonjour Brioche  – Photo credit: Lana Malykh (https://lanamalykh.com/)

Scene from ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ inside Bonjour Brioche

Bruce Mackey Park, located on De Grassi Street, just north of Queen Street East, was officially dedicated to a founding friend and supporter of the hit Degrassi TV series in its early day: Bruce Mackey. He opened his De Grassi Street home to young filmmakers, Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood, who were making a short children’s film from which the Kids of Degrassi Street was ultimately born. Bruce’s enthusiasm for his diverse neighbourhood led to many De Grassi Street homes, and local parks and schools being featured in the early episodes of the ‘Kids of Degrassi Street’. Click here for a rare copy of the film company ‘Playing With Time Inc’s notice of filming and promotional materials about the series along with a thank you note, kindly shared by the Queen & Saulter Library Branch.

Plaques in Bruce Mackey Park tell the story of Bruce and the Degrassi series.

The world famous De Grassi Street has been an integral part of Canadian arts and culture and a much celebrated part of the Riverside community and we are proud to share this snippet of its colourful story and encourage you to go explore it for yourself.


The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.