Summerhill’s turn of the century houses, winding tree-lined streets, and abundance of parkland have made it one of Toronto’s most preferred neighbourhoods. It is conveniently located along the Yonge Street corridor, providing Summerhill residents with easy access to Toronto’s downtown business and entertainment districts.
The Summerhill neighbourhood is named after ‘Summer Hill’ house, a magnificent Regency cottage built in 1842, by transportation baron Charles Thompson. Summer Hill stood on the crest of the hill on what is now a pretty residential street known as Summerhill Gardens.
Thompson’s two hundred acre Summer Hill estate stretched from the present day Yonge Street to Mt. Pleasant Road. On this site Thompson established the ‘Summer Hill Spring Park and Pleasure Grounds’. This amusement park featured rides, games, swimming and a popular dance pavilion that was located inside the Summer Hill house. In 1866 the Summer Hill property was bought by Larratt William Smith, an esteemed lawyer and businessman. Smith turned Summer Hill into a private estate for his large family. The Summerhill neighbourhood was annexed by the City in 1903. Two years later Smith would pass away and in 1911 with the City encroaching at its doorstep Smith’s heirs sold Summer Hill to land developers. It was the end of an era.
Prior to the 1910s the only houses in this neighbourhood other than the Summer Hill estate itself were the Victorian row houses and labourers cottages at the south end of the neighbourhood near the railway tracks. These homes housed the workers at the North Toronto Railway station which was the prime passenger railway terminus in Toronto at the time. In 1929 the North Toronto station was replaced by Union Station as the main terminus for the City. However; the railway would continue to play an important role in Summerhill’s history. In 1954 Summerhill became a designated station on the Yonge Street subway line and in 2003 the North Toronto railway station with its distinguished clock tower and magnificent architecture was refurbished and brought back to life as one of the largest liquor stores in Canada.
Summerhill’s original housing stock consists of semi-detached and detached Victorian houses, and detached Edwardian style houses, built between 1880 and 1915. Many of these houses do not include driveways, however permit street parking is available from the city for a nominal annual fee.
Summerhill also contains a large number of modern townhouses, and a handful of low-rise luxury condominium apartment buildings, built mostly in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Summerhill residents are within walking distance of the many fine shops and restaurants centred around Yonge Street and Summerhill Avenue. The Bloor-Yorkville and Yonge and St. Clair shopping districts are also easily accessed from the Summerhill neighbourhood.
The Rosehill Reservoir Park is located east of Yonge Street, with access from Summerhill Gardens. The lower portion of this park features a foot path that is used by walkers, joggers, and cyclists. The north-east corner of this path leads to the David A. Balfour Park, a nature trail that winds through the Vale of Avoca Ravine. The upper portion of the Rosehill Reservoir Park includes a childrenÍs playground, a wading pool, a waterfall, and reflecting pools.
Lionel Conacher Park, situated off Birch Avenue, is a memorial to Lionel Conacher who was CanadaÍs athlete of the first half of the twentieth century. Conacher, who grew up in the Summerhill neighbourhood, played on two Toronto Maple Leaf Stanley Cup teams. He also competed at the highest level in a dozen other sports and served in the Ontario Legislature, as well as the House of Commons.