History of Summerhill
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.
Ed. Note: The former Summer Hill Coach House, circa 1865, is still standing today, at the rear of 36 Summerhill Gardens. This house with its distinctive slate roof can be seen from the south end of the Rosehill Reservoir.