Living in Humber Summit
Humber Summit is a small, middle class community located in the north-west pocket of North York. This neighbourhood is bordered to the west by the Humber River and to the east by industry. Humber Summit’s northern boundary is Steeles Avenue which also serves as the border between the City of Toronto and the City of Vaughan. Humber Summit is a close knit neighbourhood with an established Italian community. In recent years, Humber Summit has welcomed many new families of East Indian and Asian background into the neighbourhood.
History of Humber Summit
Humber Summit began as a pioneer settlement in the 1840’s. This community revolved around the Rowntree grist and saw mills which operated on the banks of the Humber River where Rowntree Mills Park is situated today. Many of Humber Summit’s first settlers are buried in the historic Pine Ridge Methodist Church Cemetery on Islington Avenue. By the early 1900’s, Humber Summit settlers had turned their attention to farming. Then in the 1940’s, with the city encroaching at its doorstep, Humber Summit was transformed into a popular summer resort known as Riverbank Park.
Riverbank Park was popular with Toronto residents who built cottages overlooking the Humber River. These cottages had been converted to year round use by the time Hurricane Hazel struck in 1954. Hurricane Hazel was the worst hurricane in Toronto’s history and its deadly fury wrecked havoc on the Humber Summit community as ten houses were swept away by the raging river. Hurricane Hazel’s toll on this community would have been much worse if not for the heroic deeds of the Humber Summit Fire Brigade. This volunteer bucket brigade consisting of twelve men worked valiantly in the dark to safely rescue all of Humber Summit’s residents. The Humber Summit Fire Brigade closed down in 1966 however a plaque commemorating their service hangs in the Humber Summit Public Library which is located on the site of the former fire hall.
Homes in Humber Summit
Humber Summit’s winding roads and rolling hills west of Islington Avenue contain a curious mix of old frame cottages from the 1940’s and 1950’s together with newer two-storey custom designed homes. Houses on Riverside Drive and Rowntree Mill Road feature beautiful views of the Humber River Valley. The houses east of Islington Avenue consist of semi-detached backsplits with built-in garages and front porches decorated with cast iron railings. Elaborate front archways also add to the character of these post-war suburban houses which were built largely in the 1960’s.
Lifestyle in Humber Summit
There is a small pocket of shops and services located on Islington Avenue. This retail district includes Italian bakeries, cafes, pizzerias and food markets. The closest shopping plaza is Finchdale, which has a large discount store, banks, a bakery, a beer store and an Italian restaurant. There is also a large Italian supermarket brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Recreation in Humber Summit
Rowntree Mill Park accessed off Islington Avenue from Rowntree Mill Road, is part of the North Humber watershed and contains many nice picnic spots set amidst open meadows and woodlands. Hiking and nature walks are popular activities in this park. To the east of Islington Avenue and south of Finch Avenue are access points to the West Humber Parkland trail. This 5.5 kilometre paved trail follows the Humber Valley to the Humber Arboretum. The Humber Arboretum is operated by the city of Toronto and features a wide variety of plants and wildlife with demonstration gardens, self guided trails and a visitor interpretation centre. Golf enthusiasts are just minutes from the Humber Valley public golf course off Beattie Avenue at Albion Road. This par 70 course challenges golfers with its combination of links and valleyland holes.
Transportation in Humber Summit
Humber Summit is well served by public transit. The Islington Avenue bus connects passengers to the Islington Go Train and Bloor-Danforth subway stations on Bloor Street. The Finch Avenue bus connects to the Finch station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. Motorists are approximately ten minutes from Highways 400 and 401 which can be accessed off Islington Avenue.