I enjoy having a dog for many reasons : his unconditional love and affection, the companionship and security he gives us, and for leading me to places that I might never have seen. That’s how we discovered Todmorden Mills.
I’ve heard some people say, “I could never have a dog, I just wouldn’t want the responsibility of walking it all the time.” Well that’s precisely why I have a dog. There have been many occasions when my mood or the weather or fatigue have made me want to crawl under the duvet and tune out the world. But when you have a dog, it’s not all about you. You need to pull your head out of your … apathy, find your parka/sunscreen/rubber boots, put a plastic bag in your pocket and start walking.
Todmorden is a little a haven of history and nature down in the Don Valley, right in the heart of the city. It’s nestled in a setting at the base of Pottery Road, just off the Bayview Extension.
The history goes as far back as the mid 17oos, when it was the site of a lumber mill. Since that time the area has housed buildings that have operated as a brewery, paper mill, a camp for German prisoners of war (who were put to work at the nearby Brickworks) and a riding stable. In 1967 it was named a heritage site and began to operate as a community museum. Today it functions as a gallery and event venue, and the four buildings remaining have been restored and are open to the public.
When the Don Valley Parkway was built, apparently the river was actually straightened and was cut off from the site. The river bed was turned into a pond. The area is now a nature preserve that offers a .5 km trail through a forested area that is home to a variety of wildflowers.
Todmorden is just a short walk from Danforth subway station or accessible by car from Pottery Road. There’s parking for the public around back.
We have yet to visit the museum, or enter the buildings, we just like walking there. We usually trek down a set of stairs located halfway down Pottery Road (just off of Broadview) and enter from the back of the property. The area has a number of picnic tables that would make a nice setting for a family outing (or date..?.) It’s not leash-free and I’m pretty sure that dogs are not invited into the buildings, but that’s okay.
It’s a green space in the city and a step back in time, a nice break from sidewalks, traffic lights and high-rises. I might have discovered it eventually, even without my dog. But I’m glad he led me there.