Paper Mill Gallery exterior

Todmordon Mills and the Paper Mill Gallery, 67 Pottery Road, Toronto

TTC (Toronto Public Transit):

Take the Bloor/Danforth subway line to Broadview subway station. Board any northbound bus and get off at the Mortimer Avenue bus stop. Cross Broadview Avenue to the west side of street and walk down Pottery Road. Please be advised that Pottery Road is steep. For specific TTC route and schedule information call 416-393-4636 (INFO) or visit the TTC website at

Todmorden Mills History

Todmorden was established in 1793 when Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe gave Isaiah and Aaron Skinner permission to purchase a lot on the Don River and build a saw mill on the property. In 1796, the Skinners were granted a pair of millstones and a set of grist mill irons. Their grist mill was in operation by the summer of 1797.

The community was initially known as Don Mills but by the 1820s was renamed Todmorden by the recently settled Helliwell family. The Helliwells were originally from Todmorden in Lancashire, England and renamed the area after their home town. The family established a successful brewery and distillery in the area. Helliwell House was built by William Helliwell in the late 1830s to accommodate his young family. It is a rare example of a surviving adobe mud brick home.

In 1825, William Lyon Mackenzie, publisher of the Colonial Advocate newspaper, petitioned the government to offer a cash prize to the first person to establish a paper mill in Upper Canada. John Eastwood and Colin Skinner, residents of Todmorden, adapted one of the grist mills on the Don and imported papermaking equipment from the United States. The first paper mill to open was in Flamboro, but the first machine-made paper produced in Upper Canada came from the Todmorden Mill.

In 1847, a disastrous fire destroyed the Helliwell Brewery and gradually the lands and businesses owned by the Helliwells were acquired by the Taylor family. The Taylors operated three paper mills on the Don River and rented the Todmorden properties as housing for their senior staff.

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, the Metro Region Conservation Authority was formed. The grounds now occupied by Todmorden Mills Museum were declared part of the flood plain. This halted industrial and residential development and saved the existing historic buildings from redevelopment.

The natural landscape of Todmorden Mills changed dramatically in the 1960s with the construction of the Don Valley Parkway and the Bayview Extension. The Don River was rechannelled, and hills and ravines were levelled to accommodate these transportation routes.

The houses which remained on the property were inhabited until 1964. In the following year they were expropriated by the Borough of East York to become part of the museum. The restoration of the houses was led by the renowned architect Peter Stokes. Todmorden Mills Heritage Museum opened to the public in 1967 as part of East York's contribution to Canada's centennial celebrations.

The train station is the only building on the premises that is not original to the site. It was moved from the corner of Queen Street East and River Street in 1969 to protect it from demolition.