Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to Summerhill

Learn the ins and outs of the hip and family-friendly uptown neighbourhood of Summerhill.

By Danya Cohen

Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to Summerhill

Summerhill neighbourhood

These are the places in your neighbourhood

West-End import Danya Cohen wasn’t so sure she’d like her new neighbourhood when she moved here in 2010, but it has quickly become a happy home for her growing family. She gives us the scoop on everything from pizza to parks.

A version of this article appeared in our September 2013 Today's Parent Toronto issue with the headline, "Summerhill," pp.158-59.

Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillIllustration: Matt Dupuis

Mom-and-tot group

Moms gather weekly for this word-of-mouth playgroup. With no website or formal advertising, it’s thanks to enterprising mothers that it has been running for more than 15 years. Our 17-month-old, Evyn Rose, enjoys the sing- along, nutritious goodies (provided by moms on rotating snack duty) and a mountain of toys, while I get a chance to mingle with other moms and swap war stories. It runs for two hours every Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:30, and the vibe is social, laid-back and casual.

Rosedale United Church, 159 Roxborough Dr.

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: iStockphoto

Making Music Together

When Evyn Rose was born, I was surprised at how few songs I knew well enough to sing to her (beyond a selection of Prince ballads). This popular music class has given me a new repertoire. Also, for 45 minutes, my daughter gets a chance to be as loud as she likes and to move freely in a well-cushioned area, and I can rest easy knowing that the bells and shakers that end up in her mouth go into a wet bin for sanitizing. Each 10-week session features a different song collection and includes two CDs so one can stay in the car as a foolproof backseat-tantrum cure.

1086 Yonge St., 416-833-1231

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: iStockphoto

Putti Fine Furnishings

I’m not a girlie girl. I politely requested "no pink" when my daughter was born. But all that changed when I wandered into Putti, a home decor store featuring the finest in French, frilly and romantic home accessories. There's a hidden kids' nook at the back of the store spilling over with all pretty things, and, though I've vowed not to raise a princess, I caved and bought my girl her first over-the-top frock – a monogrammed tutu. I only stumbled upon this gem after three years in the 'hood, but it's been around for almost two decades.

1104 Yonge St., 416-972-7652

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: Putti Fine Furnishings


With two floors of seating, an elevator for easy stroller transport, a sprawling rooftop patio and a pristine change table in the bathroom, the newest outpost of this Italian favourite is a staple dining destination for us. It’s filled with young families eating early dinners, and weekdays it draws the maternity-leave crowd. Though strict on substitutions, their simple Spaghetti Pomodoro and Margherita Pizza are a hit with finicky eaters.

1095 Yonge St., 416-925-4020

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: Terroni

Rosedale Park

With the ideal early-fall weather, we can’t wait to take Evyn Rose to the crown jewel of playgrounds – the newly renovated facility at Rosedale Park. With two sets of tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a jungle gym and a wading pool with splash features, we’re excited that our girl will be able to practise her newly acquired walking skills.

20 Scholfield Ave.

Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: iStockphoto

Advice from a caterpillar

This boutique carries kids’ clothing from the catalogues of designers like Stella McCartney (including a miniature cashmere hoodie that I wish came in my size) and some of the chicest baby furniture I’ve ever seen. It’s not practical for stocking up on baby clothes, but I couldn’t help myself last winter and splurged on a pair of fur-trimmed boots for Evyn Rose.

Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: Si Hoang

BB Buggy

When baby accessories began to replace our furniture, we were relieved to find this store that focuses on well-designed, natural baby products. Rather than overwhelming new parents with endless choices, the owner has carefully curated items with an eye for value and quality. My best finds have been foam tiles that don’t clash with our entire home and the softest bamboo swaddles (that double as scarves). They’ll price match with other stores, and their sales staff are pros when it comes to explaining the more complicated baby contraptions.

10 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-8168

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: BB Buggy


I’m a cupcake connoisseur, so I was thrilled to see the newest Dlish shop open within walking distance. These handcrafted confections are always fresh – baked on-site throughout the day – so it’s no wonder they’re the best I’ve ever tasted. Their online schedule will tell you what flavours are available each day (so you can plan your walks around the neighbourhood accordingly).

848-A Yonge St., 416-925-3535

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: Dlish

All The Best Fine Foods

This gourmet specialty store carries last-minute supplies for every occasion. The prepared foods made from local ingredients make for delicious quick meals, and the baked goods are always a welcome offering whenever we get the chance to go to a dinner party. They also stock a small section of old-school toys and crafts (think Shrinki Dinks).

1101 Yonge St., 416-928-3330

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: All The Best Fine Foods

Branksome Hall

Founded in 1903, Branksome Hall has become well-known as a top school for girls from junior kindergarten to grade 12. The population of 880 includes 62 residence students from 20 different countries. The campus is located on 13 picturesque acres in the heart of Toronto.

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Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: iStockphoto

More family fun

Read more: Best apple orchards and farms across Canada>

Toronto neighbourhoods: Welcome to SummerhillPhoto: Birtch Farms and Estate Winery

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