Highland Creek: More than meets the eye

It’s said that home is where the heart is. If that is true, then for those who call Highland Creek home, heart is definitely present.

The discreet neighbourhood in the southeast end of Scarborough is one of Toronto’s oldest communities. Although it appears quaint and quiet now, Highland Creek was the largest residential and business centre in the area in the 1850s, according to Toronto Neighbourhoods Guide.

Primarily made up of homes, schools, religious facilities, and independent restaurants, the current Highland Creek is not very different from the way it looked decades ago. To this day, the homes are small and snug. This is due to the fact that during the 1920s to the 1950s, the homes that were built in Highland Creek were brick bungalows originally used as summer cottages.

Although the houses in Highland Creek give off a cozy, homey feel, the most prized landmark possession of Highland Creek is the river.

The river, also named Highland Creek, runs to Lake Ontario at the eastern end of the Scarborough Bluffs. Its name originates from its given name by the Mississauga Indians, “Yat-qui-ee-be-no-nick”, which means the first creek below the high land.

But Highland Creek isn’t solely known for the meandering river. It’s primarily known for being a quaint neighbourhood in Scarborough that houses a communal environment for everyone who belongs to it.

An important asset to the neighbourhood is the West Hill-Highland Creek Lions Club, which has been a part of the community since it was established in 1944.

“The area is a great place to live and raise a family,” says club president Marius Ois, who has been a member of the club since 1982 and a resident in the neighbourhood for the past 40 years. “It’s a great sub-division and a close-knit community.”

The club works to bring unison within the community and to reach out to those in need, Ois said.

“We hope to maintain what we’re doing now while strengthening as members in order to improve as a club,” said Ois. “We have to do ongoing promotion, and as we do that we need to maintain the programs we already run and support. We would like to extend ourselves further in the future as well.”

The home of the Lions Club is at the Heron Park Community Centre at the corner of Manse Road and Lawrence Avenue. The current community centre was launched in 2001 after the original, opened in 1955, was donated to the city.

“Since we’ve had new development in the area, we’ve had new people moving in — a lot are young families,” said Ois. “I’ve noticed that other families are getting older and their kids are moving out, but a lot of the same people still live here. It’s amazing.”

The loyalty to the area is a definite bonding factor in Highland Creek. Kuoyon Li, the owner of Highland Creek Fish and Chips, also agrees the people in the area are faithful residents.

“We definitely have regulars. We have customers who have been coming here since we started,” Li said of the restaurant that opened 28 years ago.