Todmorden Mills Heritage Site
Want to discover more about Toronto's history? We recently visited Todmorden Mills Heritage Site, one of 10 historical museums operated by the City of Toronto. With its ongoing monthly programming, there is always something new waiting for you when visiting this inspirational site.
A historic treasure set in the scenic and picturesque Don Valley, Todmorden Mills was once the centre of Toronto's early industry. Today, the site features four nineteenth-century buildings still in their original place. There are two residences, part of a brewery, and a paper mill that was renovated in the late twentieth century to accommodate a theatre and gallery. Additional site features include the historic Don River bridge, the brick road, and a parking lot that was once the site of a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Next to the location is a 9.2 hectare wildflower preserve with walking trails that explore a number of natural habitats, including upland and bottomland forests, dry and wet meadows, swamp lands, and a pond.
In 1821, it was the Helliwell family (pictured below) that settled in the area and established a brewery and distillery. They renamed the area Todmorden after their home town in Lancashire, England as the landscape of the Don Valley was reminiscent of it. Helliwell House, one of the two residences on site, is a rare example of 19th-century adobe brick construction. All of the buildings on the site contain traces of their original fabric, as well as subsequent renovations introduced by various later tenants.
Children's Activities and Camps
In addition to being a historic museum, Todmorden Mills Heritage Site offers camps, workshops, and drop-ins for young people during the Festive Season, March Break, and the Summer. These activities provide enriching entertainment while allowing children to creatively explore Toronto's history.
You can also celebrate a Birthday Party at Todmorden Mills. Packages offered include Mask Making - which will it be... an animal or a superhero, the options are endless; Nature Programs - where kids can search for tiny critters in a pond sample, play games with special focus on protecting nature; and Exploring the Life of a Child in the 19th-Century where kids can play with old fashioned toys, tour the historic house, and bake over the open hearth. Brithday Pricing is approximately $150 for a maximum of 12 children. For more info on Birthday Parties, visit
The Wildflower Preserve
Though we were not able to see the Wildflower Preserve due to the snow, the 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 who are working to reintroduce the native plant species that were here when settlers first arrived and to remove the invasive non-native species that have since been introduced on the grounds. The preserve provides a green oasis within a major urban centre and is a highly valued spiritual, cultural, and environmental space.
Throught the year, Todmorden offers a variety of family-friendly events. Event admission averages just over $5 for adults and $2 for children, making an outing to Todmorden Mills very affordable for families. Seasonal events include: Halloween Hauntings, Outdoor Guided Walks, Regency Christmasin the Valley, Cooking Demonstrations and Workshops, and more. Upcoming events this Winter and Spring include:
Family Day at Todmorden Mills
February 17, 2014 - 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm
Drop in and learn about Owls in the Valley! Learn all about owls and what they eat. Make your own take-home owl themed craft. Explore our 19th-century historic homes and sample tasty treats prepared on the open hearth. Adults $5.31; Children $2; Students/Seniors $3 (plus tax).
March Mania in the Valley!
March 7 to 16, 2014 - 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Drop in for P.A. Day Friday and all through March Break. Explore the historic homes and sample tasty treats prepared on the open hearth. Learn about life in 19th-century Toronto. Create a unique take-home craft. Make sure you take a tour of the Wildflower Preserve during your visit. Adults $5.31; Seniors/Youth $3; Children $2 (plus tax).
For more information on monthly events and activities, visit: www.toronto.ca/museum-events. Todmorden Mills is for all ages and is both interactive and educational.