OVERVIEW: a fairly basic 6.9 km Don Valley walk of which 4.4 km (64%) is on the secluded Lower Don River Trail.
START: 10:00 a.m. at Broadview subway station
ROUTE: leaving the station, we head north on Broadview to Pottery Road, then head east sharply downhill into the Don Valley, passing the site of historic Todmorden Mills on our left and then under the DVP to catch the Lower Don Trail heading south. On the 4.4 km trek to the Canary District, we cross under the impressive Bloor Viaduct and over the Don River. Emerging in the Canary District at the Corktown Common, we take Mill Street directly west into the Distillery District.
TREK NOTES: surface conditions are hard with a long decline on the Pottery Road hill. Proper footwear is always key. The right attitude wouldn't hurt either.
DEBRIEFING: Balzac’s in the centre of the Distillery District is the most obvious choice. There are others.
EXIT STRATEGY: the westbound 504A King streetcar heading west to Yonge leaves regularly (about every 10 min) from the streetcar loop just east of the Distillery on the east side of Cherry St. The eastbound 504B King streetcar heading to Broadview subway station needs to be caught a few blocks north on King St.
TREK MAP LINK: Click here
(actual route may at times slightly deviate from that shown on map when stubborn Google Maps does not acknowledge or accept how or where a section of a walk has been planned.)
Todmorden Mills: named after Todmorden, the hometown in England of John Eastwood, an early 19th century local mill/brewery operator, this small, perhaps the earliest, settlement in the Don River valley began as a lumber mill in the 1790s and was acquired about 1855 by the prominent Taylor family who owned a number of industrial mills in the neighbourhood and then later in the 1890s the Don Valley Pressed Brick Company. Under their ownership the mill was converted to produce felt paper and continued to operate until the 1920s when the building was converted into a riding stable.
Between 1930 and 1967, the property housed various horse riding schools, interrupted in the late 1940s with light industry use (Don Vale Textiles) and in the first half of 1940's as the site of a small German prisoner of war camp; it housed men from the German merchant marine who were interned in Allied ports at the start of the war. The low-risk prisoners often worked as labourers at the nearby Don Valley Brick Works. In 1945, the prisoners were repatriated, the camp was shut down and soon afterwards vandals burned down its buildings.
The Don River used to meander through the site to feed the mills but construction of the DVP in the late 1950s straightened the river and relocated it off the site about 100 metres to the west. A bridge that used to cross the river as it once ran through the mill property still exists but has now been reduced to merely a means to reach a parking lot.
In 1967 it was designated an historical site and community museum that includes four buildings from the original settlement (the old paper mill which dates from 1825, a brewery and two homes), the recently restored Helliwell house, and also a 9.2 hectare nature preserve. The onetime paper mill is now used as a theatre and gallery. (Want more ? - click here and here)
Supreme Glorious Dear Leaders
NEXT LIKELY WALKS
always subject to weather, whimsy or whatever:
(check Hoofer activity page on website for latest schedule or updates)