We think Toronto is an amazing city for families, but don’t just take our word for it! We’re asking local moms all over the city to tell us why they love their neighbourhoods and to share their favourite spots for kids.
Hope Paterson is a spirited entrepreneur and food enthusiast mother of Sophia (6) and Alfie (3). Food is Hope’s core. When she’s not eating it (often with her hands), she’s sniffing it out, gathering it, cooking it, sharing it and teaching about it. She’s been smack in the middle of the kid’s food and nutrition world for over 15 years and has owned and operated a kid’s cooking camp, written kids’ cooking curriculums, and helped to build an innovative kids’ catering company. She’s now collaborating with leading kid’s food educator Rainbow Plate.
Here’s what Hope has to say about her neighbourhood.
Why I Love My ‘Hood
The Annex is brimming with the perfect ingredients for family fun. It’s heaving with historical appeal, riddled with incredible schools (public, private, and alternative), and has an unforgettable vibe with a titch of grit (to keep things real). Our ‘hood is humming with a terrific blend of students, professors, long-term renters and families of all ages. People who live here are “Annex-ers” for life.
1. Action Potential Lab
Holy moly—Lisa Carrie Goldberg’s whimsical workshop space is the bee’s knees for kid’s after-school activities, birthday parties and adult science labs. Her pharmacy turned lab space alone is worth checking out. Book in advance.
2. Jean Sibelius Park
There are many newly reno’d parks in our hood. This gem is central and superb for kids of all ages. There are shaded spots for picnics, a field for soccer/group sports, a mini climbing wall, a sand-pit toddler area and the essential Canuck outdoor ice rink from January to March (or whenever it’s cold enough).
3. St. Alban’s Boys & Girls Club
The Annex community centre/child-care centre is the bustling neighbourhood centre for kids’ swimming lessons and after-school programs and has a weekend drop-in playground.
4. Fanny Chadwick’s
It’s the ultimate local resto. It boasts homemade everything (including their ketchup), and is a welcome spot for kids and families. Try it for brunch, lunch, and dinner, they’re all delicious. But come early—it’s busy.
5. Pizzeria Napoli Centrale
All kids love pizza. Well, this place loves kids. They have ooey, gooey, splendidly sauced pizzas and terrific service.
6. Herbs & Nutrition
This souped-up health store/premium grocery has some of the best prices in the city and the helpful staff know their stuff. 572 Bloor St. W.
We dig this shop for all art supplies and kid gifties. The staff are super helpful and they have a swath of creative stock.
8. Frangipane Patisserie
They sell croissants to cry for, custom cakes, and fine pastries. Need a stellar birthday cake? Look no further.
9. Sushi on Bloor
The most kid-friendly, seriously inexpensive (yet tasty) sushi spot in the city.
The Annex is a downtown neighbourhood that is home to a lively section of Bloor Street and lovely tree-lined side streets lined with Victorian homes dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It retains much of its bohemian, arts-centric culture that emerged in the mid-twentieth century and is chock full of excellent restaurants, parks, and shops.
PHOTO: ADAPTED FROM JESS/FLICKR CC
Read more in our Why We Love Toronto series: