The Old Mill neighbourhood is nestled along the thickly wooded slopes of the Humber River Valley. This is an ideal neighbourhood for families as it offers miles of parkland with a myriad of recreational opportunities.
This neighbourhood has many unique and special landmarks including the ruins of the Old Mill – which provide an enchanting backdrop for the Old Mill restaurant, the historic Old Mill bridge, and of course the Humber River which has recently been designated as a Canadian Heritage River.
Without a doubt one of the prettiest settings in Toronto has to be at the Humber River as it flows alongside Etienne Brule Park just below the historic Old Mill Inn and Spa. This is the setting every fall around Thanksgiving for dozens of anglers. These fishing enthusiasts wade with their leg high rubber boots into the chilly waters of the Humber River to test their mettle against the teeming amount of Salmon swimming upstream to spawning grounds.
Fishermen are not the only ones who gather here on a nice fall day. Curious onlookers also line the banks of the Humber river to marvel at this spectacle; as hundreds of Salmon attempt to jump the weir in the Humber river. These schools of Salmon travel this route each fall as they make their way up the river from the mouth of Lake Ontario to spawn upstream in the Humber River headwaters which originate all the way up in the Oak Ridges Moraine.
This is not a recent discovery as far as fishing holes go. Salmon have been migrating along the river for thousands of years. The First Nations people fished here long before the settlement of Toronto. The Humber River was officially designated a Canadian Heritage River at a plaque unveiling ceremony in Toronto on September 24, 1999.
The beautiful Old Mill bridge, built in 1916, is the perfect backdrop for all the fishing enthusiasts. A short stroll from the bridge is the Old Mill Inn and Spa. This historic Inn has a very popular Sunday brunch and family dinner buffet, as well as a famous Thankgiving Buffet. Good to know just in case you get hungry after a busy day watching the Salmon run.
If you prefer a more casual outing, Etienne Brule Park has numerous picnic benches. This park is a short stroll from the Old Mill subway station. If you are traveling by car there is plenty of parking available at the entrance to the park.
History of Old Mill
The historic Old Mill neighbourhood located on the banks of the Humber River was a favourite fishing and hunting spot for people of the First Nations Tribes long before the first European pioneers settled here in the 1790’s.
In 1793 the Kings Mill – the forerunner to todays Old Mill – was built in order to process lumber for the first homes in Toronto – which was then known as the Town of York. A series of fires forced the Mill to be re-built three times. Today the skeletal ruins of the last grist mill also destroyed by fire in 1881, provide the backdrop for the Old Mill restaurant.
The Old Mill restaurant and “Tea Garden” was opened in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I. The Old Mill attracted a clientele from all over the city and doubled as a sales office for Home Smith and Company, which developed this neighbourhood in the 1920’s and 30’s.