As part of the City’s COVID-19 response, all City-operated museums are closed until further notice. Stay up-to-date on all changes to City services.
There is a secret place hidden in the Don River Valley, between highways and subways, under bridges and behind trees; Todmorden Mills is a cross-section of Toronto, stacked century-by-century, and layer-by-layer upon itself. From an Indigenous waterway to industrial hub, from a prisoner of war camp to a modern arts and theatre venue; each community has made its mark and added another layer to explore.
The same wealth of natural resources, which brought Indigenous peoples to the Don River Valley, has been a magnet drawing settlers, industrialists, workers, artists and families for centuries.
Together, they have shaped Todmorden Mills into its current role as a vibrant natural, historic, and cultural landscape.
Todmorden Mills allows visitors to immerse themselves in Toronto’s history through the daily lives of the working people who made the lumber, ﬂour, beer, and bricks that built our city.
Time-ticketed HistoricTO tours at Todmorden Mills is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $10.
Hours of Operation
Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Buy your tickets online to book a time slot for your visit.
Take subway to Broadview Station. Get on any bus (not a streetcar). Get off at Mortimer/Pottery Rd. (at Dairy Queen). Turn left and walk down Pottery Road. Please note that Pottery Road turns into a fairly steep hill at Broadview and can pose varying degrees of difficulty for individuals. Walking down and returning up to the bus stop takes about ten minutes each way. For specific TTC route and schedule information call 416-393-4636 (INFO) or visit the TTC website.
Todmorden Mills Heritage Site opened to the public in 1967 as part of East York’s contribution to the celebration of Canada’s centennial. In 1821, the Helliwell family settled in the area and established a brewery and distillery. They re-named the area Todmorden after their home town in Lancashire, England as the landscape of the Don Valley was reminiscent of it. The Todmorden paper mill, now the Papermill Theatre and Gallery, was the first of its kind in Upper Canada to produce machine-made paper. It provided newsprint for some of the colony’s first publications including William Lyon Mackenzie’s newspaper The Colonial Advocate.
The Todmorden Mills Heritage Site grounds are home to a 9.2 hectare Wildflower (Nature) Preserve. The trail winds through several different habitats including Upland Forest on the slopes, Bottomland Forest, Swamp, Pond, Dry Meadow and Wet Meadow. The Wildflower Preserve is a long-term, ongoing project undertaken by volunteers. Their aim is to reintroduce the native plant species that were here when the settlers arrived and to remove the invasive non-native species that have been introduced. The preserve provides a green oasis within a major urban centre and is a highly valued spiritual, cultural, and environmental space.
The Helliwell Diaries: The Diaries of William Helliwell from 1830 to 1890
The Helliwell Diaries provide a first-hand glimpse of 19th century Upper Canada including early settlement in the Don Valley, aspects of brewing and milling industries and social life in Regency and Victorian Toronto. To receive a free, transcribed .pdf version of this primary source document, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.