Home > Community > In Our Community > KV - Why I'm Here > Janis Smith, Elm Hill Cookies

DSC 0158 framedAmazing things happen when a woman realizes that cookies are not getting enough attention in the baking world and sets about to raise their profile. This was the mission upon which Janis Smith embarked after sixteen years as a stay-at-home mom to twin boys. Even though there was not a strong baking tradition in her home as she was growing up, Janis cannot recall a time when she was not interested in baking and in particular baking cookies.

Those who live in the Kerr Village neighbourhood can't help but observe the changes that are underway, transforming the area into a more and more diverse collection of businesses and services. While some enterprises come and go, others thrive and consistently rate accolades from their loyal customers.

What brings these varied shops and people to Kerr Village? WRRA Board Member Sandy Moshenko decided to find out through a series of interviews with entrepreneurs and service providers in the neighbourhood.

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So at age 46, Janis decided to return to school and studied Baking and Pastry Arts at George Brown College. Here she learned about the science of baking, how ingredients interact and how to bake on a professional level.

Janis's plan to raise the profile of the cookie was in part based on a belief that, while other baking trends come and go, the popularity of cookies prevails. Everyone loves a cookie. They appeal to children for their portability and the way they fit in the hand; adults can indulge in a biscuit or two without feeling guilty; and they are equally tasty with a cup of coffee, a glass of milk or afternoon tea.

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Cookies can be fancy or plain and made with a wide variety of ingredients. They are even tasty straight from the freezer! Inside the front door of Janis's store, Elm Hill Cookies, the wallpaper describes the history of the cookie and extols its timeless appeal.

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Building  framedJanis's decision to locate her bakery in Kerr Village almost didn't happen. She had selected a location in Oakville and had already determined how the space would be configured when she learned that a grocery store in the plaza objected to her presence because she would compete with them. It was back to square one!

Janis and her family had lived for 18 years in the Kerr Village area. so when an opportunity arose to locate on Kerr Street, Janis jumped at the chance. It was, she says, the best thing that could have happened. The space has been utilized to maximum advantage and provides a friendly, charming, modern and comfortable location in which customers can select and savour the product. Her trademark is a square cookie with rounded corners in keeping with the shop's tag line and baking philosophy of "no corners cut". Since opening in 2010, Janis has developed relationships with neighbourhood customers and is providing wholesale cookies to several businesses, including a food emporium in Muskoka.


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Janis's love of cookies and her business is evident from the moment you enter her shop. She is dedicated to providing a wonderful product made with the best of ingredients and presented beautifully in environmentally friendly packaging. Recently, Janis and her staff took a trip to Brooklyn, NY to observe and sample firsthand the upcoming trends in the food and baking industry. Janis describes the experience as amazing and although it is difficult to imagine how her cookies might be improved, customers should probably look for further innovation in the coming months.

Founding, designing and operating Elm Hill Cookies allows Janis independence and a chance to put cookies on the map. Kerr Village and her business also nurture her creative side. As proof, Janis has developed the Kerr St. Cookie, made with dried cranberries, oatmeal, milk and white chocolate, toasted pecans and coconut. It is a standout!

However, the best thing about the business, Janis exclaims, is that people are happy when they come into the shop. There is no better reason to be in Kerr Village.

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Elm Hill Cookies is located at 250 Kerr St.