History of the Old Mill Toronto

Old Mill Toronto’s historic photo GALLERY.


The Old Mill Toronto has a cherished motto, Vallis Humbria Angliae Pars Anglisa Procul which means, “In the valley of the Humber, a bit of England far from England”.

The beautiful setting, charming atmosphere and impeccable service of The Old Mill Toronto has warmed the hearts of our guests from far and wide. Over the past century, The Old Mill has earned its reputation as a Toronto landmark.

The Humber River and Valley are intrinsic to the fabric of Canadian history. Originally the site was an important area for fishing, hunting and as a travel route among the native people of Canada.

In 1615, the area was discovered by explorer Étienne Brûlé on a mission for Samuel de Champlain. Eventually, the French established a small settlement for trading with the native Canadians.

Following the American Revolution, a large number of United Empire Loyalists moved into the area and established the colony of Upper Canada, with the growing town of York named as its capital in 1793. The town would later be incorporated and renamed Toronto in 1834.

The English settlers built the King’s Mill on the banks of the Humber River to process lumber for the new homes of York residents. The William Gambles grist mill was built slightly to the north and would become the site of the present-day Old Mill.

In 1914, on the first day of World War One, Toronto entrepreneur Robert Home Smith, opened The Old Mill Tea Garden. It quickly became a popular spot among Toronto residents for entertainment and relaxation. In 1921, The Old Mill Tea Garden introduced live music in The Print Room, with violinist Cec Ryder and pianist Nelson Hatch. When a new dance floor was added in 1929, the duo expanded to a nine piece orchestra.

The Old Mill underwent a series of renovations in the early 1970s, under the guidance of owner William Hodgson. Great attention to detail was made to authentically restore the original Dining Room, Garret and Humber Rooms. New meeting and ballrooms were added, including the Royal Oak, Portage, Mill, Brulé and York Rooms. The old Print Room was restored and a new Tea Room added.

The 1980s saw the opening of The Old Mill Flower Shoppe and the main floor of the cottage was converted into two banquet rooms; the Garden Room and the Drawing Room. The upper level of the cottage was converted to offices. A new wing was added to accommodate the Guild Hall, Balmoral and Westminster rooms and the Kingsbrook Suite.

Present-day proprietor Michael Kalmar took ownership of the Old Mill in 1991. After significant restoration and reconstruction, the Old Mill Inn opened on October 1, 2001 featuring 57 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites.

The Old Mill Toronto now stands to be part of the many memories and wonderful stories for generations to come.


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