How many times have you passed that big tall smokestack labeled “Todmorden Mills” and wondered what the heck is there? Visible from the DVP located south off Pottery Rd in Toronto’s Don Valley, this is the home of the 19th century community of Todmorden. It was established by the Helliwell family who settled in the area and opened a brewery and distillery, as one does. The Todmorden Paper Mill, also located there, was the first of its kind in Upper Canada and provided the colony’s first newspapers. Another interesting historical note, the parking lot was previously a prisoner of war camp during World War II.

Today’s Todmorden Mills is home to two historic houses (you can go inside with admission), the Brewery Gallery and a renovated Paper Mill Gallery and Theatre. We got a special behind-the-scenes peek during the Bandits in the Valley, a performance by Tapestry Opera on now every weekend til end of September 2017 (see photo below).

There are lots of interpretative panels with historical information and also a few audio stories.

Be sure to take the time to walk the wildflower preserve. It’s one of our favourite hikes for little legs in TOw.


Getting there: Todmorden Mills is located south off of Pottery Rd. Turn in and you’ll find three free parking lots. On TTC, take the Bayview bus or Evergreen shuttle to Evergreen Brick Works and walk northeast to the site (approx. 10 minutes.)

Low-down: Admission is $6.19 for adults and $2.65 for kids (5 and under free). You can also visit for free with a library card via the Toronto Public Library’s Museum and Arts Pass. Check the City of Toronto’s site for special seasonal events and kids’ camps.

In the hood: On bike, head north on the Lower Don Trail to the Pump Track in Crothers Woods. You may even seen the salmon run in September/October.