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.
General admission is free. Some exhibitions and events may carry a separate charge where noted.
Hours of Operation
The Papermill Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Open on December 24 and 31.
Closed on December 25, 26, 27 and January 1 and 2.
Free Guided Tours
60-minute tours are offered Wednesday to Sunday at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.
Special Exhibits & Events
Browse the Toronto History Museums Calendar to find special exhibits and events happening at this and other museum sites.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Measures
As of March 21, 2022, Ontario has lifted provincial masking provisions for Museums and Heritage Services with the City of Toronto. In addition, the City’s mandatory mask by-law is no longer in effect. The general public is not required to wear a mask but may choose to wear a mask in any settings they wish and will be supported in doing so. Museum visitors are treated with respect and understanding, regardless of their decision to wear a mask.
On-Site Services and Accessibility
- Picnic area in park
- Free public parking
- Partial accessibility, please contact the museum for full details.
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 email@example.com.