Grow your Own Herb Garden

Growing a Herb garden can be a fun and rewarding experience and a great addition to your culinary skills. You can enjoy snipping herbs to add to food, brew in relaxing teas, and toss into your salads. Herb gardening in containers is a useful, attractive addition that is relatively easy to maintain and most varieties can be grown successfully on a windowsill, a patio or a balcony. 

Just about any container will work to grow herbs in but keep in mind, most varieties prefer fast draining soil, so your container must have adequate holes to drain.  Ideally, you will water your container garden only when needed. Feel the soil 2 to 3 inches below the surface, if it is still wet, don’t water.  When you grow plants in containers, it’s important to provide them with a high quality potting soil and for best results, most herb varieties require at least 6 hours of sun per day.   

You can grow herbs in pots together but some types of herbs will out-perform others in containers and remember to avoid mixing those that like plenty of water (such as chives, mint, chervil, coriander,) with those that like a well-drained soil (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, bay, and oregano).

Here are a few herbs you may want to start off with;


Basil plants are easy to maintain indoors and out. Remember to pinch off the flowering buds whenever they appear.  Not only will basil enhance many dishes, it is also considered one of the healthiest herbs, as basil leaves are rich in antioxidants, it provides an array of health benefits.


Mint is very versatile, you can use it for everything from tea to mojitos, to mint and coriander chutney. It’s also easy to grow, even in difficult shady spaces that only get a little sun. Growing mint in a pot is best so you can keep it from spreading, which it will do quite easily. Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion.


Brilliant in salads, snipped up over soups, or added as garnish to many dishes. Growing chives is an easy way to always have a mild onion flavour on hand in your garden.  Also, chives boast pretty lavender blooms in spring, making them attractive herbs for flowerbeds as well as herb gardens. Make sure it doesn’t dry out, as chives like damp soil.


Parsley is a hardy herb grown for its flavour, which is added to many dishes, as well as its use as a decorative garnish. Aside from its deliciousness, parsley is a powerhouse of nutrients. Did you know that parsley actually has more vitamin C in it than an orange? Try adding several leaves and stalks to your morning juicing blend.

Sage, Bay, Thyme, Rosemary

Not only are they the most common herbs called for in recipes, but they are also the best herbs that you can freeze for later use. Easy to grow with unique flavours, these classic herbs are excellent for soups, stocks, meats, pastas and more. They don’t like wet roots, so grow in well-drained soil and take care not to over-water. You can grow sage from seeds but the others are better bought as plants.


Also known as cilantro, prefers cool weather, so it should be planted in the spring or fall. Coriander adds fresh flavour in everything from salsa to marinades. This plant will survive most winters, and it’ll grow back strong and lush in the spring. Cilantro or coriander herb contains an impressive list of nutrients, essential oils, anti-oxidants that are required for optimal health and wellness.

Everyone loves good food, and herbs grown in your own container garden is simply the best. Chef Martin has recently planted a herb garden at the Old Mill Toronto, and we are growing Basil, Purple Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Dill, Sage and Oregano to enhance our delicious recipes.

Spa Tips For Brides

Planning your wedding can be a little stressful and have you feeling a little exhausted. Of course when it comes to your wedding day, you wan’t to look radiant, and there is no better place to relax and pamper yourself than spending some quality time at the spa. A little time spent at the spa will have you looking your best when you walk down the aisle; so here are a few tips to bring out the gorgeous in you!



If you’ve never had a facial before, you should have a trial facial about 4 months in advance to see how your skin will react. If you’re happy with your results, then schedule another facial with the same therapist, a week or two before you walk down the aisle.

All the stress from your wedding planning will, unfortunately, show up on your skin. You can undo the damage by having a traditional spa facial, which is also great for making your skin a better makeup canvas. This indulgent service is great for all skin types. With exfoliation, toning and moisturizing – facials can be personalized for every skin type to give you that bridal glow.

And then there’s the Intraceutical Oxygen Facial, that the Spa at the Old Mill Toronto offers, which leaves skin looking positively radiant. It hydrates the skin, immediately firms and plumps it up to smooth out fine lines, and gives the complexion a nice glow.


As well as exfoliating the areas you’re having waxed, it’s important to buff away dead skin cells to avoid clogged pores and ingrown hairs. Your last exfoliation should be at least two days before the wax treatment. Moisturize your skin properly until the day before the waxing to keep the area hydrated (and after to keep your skin looking fabulous, of course). Don’t forget to wear SPF to protect the newly waxed areas. Most importantly do not wax the day of your wedding – the best time is about one week before your big day. The Spa at the Old Mill usues Nufree Finipil, which is not a wax, so you won’t experience the pain of typical waxing. Extensive scientific testing, proves Nufree to be a self preserving antibacterial, antimicrobial hair removal system.


You may be sore after the massage, so it’s probably best to enjoy this ultimate form of relaxation the week leading up to your Wedding Day and not the day before.  This is normal with Deep Tissue massage, but it can also happen with the more gentle type of Swedish massage as well, and sometimes you may not feel the soreness until the next day. Your therapist can tailor the massage to your personal needs and desires, and make adjustments in intensity or technique as the session proceeds.A therapeutic massage is perfect for bridesmaid bonding, alone time or with your fiance, take the time out of your busy planning schedule to enjoy a massage, you will feel much better afterwards. 

Hair and Makeup

It’s important to secure your stylist ahead of time and do a trip about 1 -2 months before your Wedding Day. When it comes to your hair and makeup, you want to look like yourself as much as possible. Stick to the styles that make you feel most comfortable and match your bridal style. The Spa at the Old Mill is proud to use proud to use Jane Iredale Skincare Makeup. It provides flawless coverage with skincare benefits that conventional makeup can only envy! This mineral composition was designed to give you SPF, concealer, foundation and powder all in one.  Jane Iredale is not just makeup, it’s an extension of your skincare!


It’s always best to get your nails done the day before or day of so they look fresh and fabulous. Even Gel manicures can loose their lustre after a few days. You will want to show off your new wedding ring so compliment it with perfectly polished nails. Choosing a nail colour is right up there with the other tough wedding planning decisions. If your not into nail art, than your Wedding Day isn’t the day to start. Since You try on more than one dress (most of the time!), why shouldn’t you try on more than one polish?

 Body Wraps and Scrubs

Wraps are an excellent way to detox and are designed to reduce the appearance of cellulite or create a sliming effect while a body scrub will slough away dry, dead skin cells and leave you with luminous skin.  Remember if you are getting a spray tan, book it after your body scrub so your gorgeous glow won’t rub off!

Tea Time – Drink To Good Health

Originating in China over 5,000 years ago, tea has stood the test of time as one of the most popular and healthy beverages available. Wars have been waged over it; ceremonies are devoted to preparing it; and two-thirds of the world’s population consume it.

Rich in antioxidants that may fend off disease-causing free radicals, boost memory, and even aid in weight management, scientific evidence continues to suggest tea is as good for the body as it tastes.

All teas are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. Different processing methods, harvesting times, and growing regions determine the many varieties available today. There are four principle types of tea – black, green, white and oolong.

Tea contains enzymes that interact with the oxygen in the air when a leaf is broken or crushed. This reaction is called oxidation or fermentation, and it causes the leaf to darken and increases its caffeine level. Once the leaf is heated and dried the oxidation process stops.

BLACK TEA – is fully oxidized and dried and has a smooth taste. Most of the teas on the market use black tea such as Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, English Breakfast etc. Generally you would add milk or lemon and a sweetener (sugar/honey) to black tea.

GREEN TEA – is unfermented tea. The leaves are quickly dried then heated and rolled, so it is not as processed as black tea. There is a great variety of green teas – some are light and mild tasting while others are grassy and vegetable tasting. You would not add milk to green tea. Green teas generally come from China or Japan.

OOLONG TEA – is a hybrid between black and green tea and is popular in China. The leaves are partly oxidized and some Oolongs are less fermented and more closely resemble green tea; other Oolongs are more fully oxidized and come closer to black tea. Generally you would not drink Oolong with milk or sugar – it has a strong flavour that holds its own.

WHITE TEA – has only recently become widely available and it is possibly the healthiest of all teas because it is the least processed. It’s picked before the leaf buds fully open, then it’s air dried or gently dried by steaming and that’s it. The buds are covered with fine white hair which gives the tea it’s white look. Like green tea, it is not fermented. White tea often has such a gentle flavour that it’s like drinking water. Now it is often blended with vanilla, spices and fruit flavours.

L-theanine, or theanine, is a water soluble amino acid that’s found in tea leaves. When you drink tea, l-theanine passes through the blood-brain barrier and affects the brain directly. Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, and improves memory and mood. Tea flavonoids have also been credited with many heart-healthy benefits. When consumed regularly, both black and green tea have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, reduce triglycerides, and improve blood flow.

There are really so many benefits to drinking tea; Oolong has been shown to slow the aging process, Green tea can be helpful in controlling inflammation from injury or diseases such as arthritis. Tea flavonoids may be bone builders and fight Osteoporosis. One of the flavonoids, the catechn epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is being studied as a potential cancer fighter. Studies have shown that both green and black tea kept healthy cells from turning malignant after exposure to cancer-causing compounds. Green tea is especially rich in EGCG.

Herbal Teas do not contain any part of the Camellia sinensis plant, herbal teas are not actually tea, but rather an infusion of fruits, herbs, and spices often called tisanes. Although not truly tea, many popular herbal tisanes are proving to be health superstars. African red rooibos tea is rich in heart-protecting antioxidants, and hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure. 

PEPPERMINT TEA is great for soothing an upset stomach and helping digestion. It is also good for killing mouth bacteria and giving you good breath.

GINGER TEA is great for aiding with nausea, motion-sickness, as well as digestion.

DANDELION TEA  is a great diuretic and also detoxifies the liver.

LICORICE TEA  contains valuable iron salts and is a good laxative. It is also said to fight stress and fatigue. It may not be good for people with high blood pressure.

CHAMOMILE TEA is supposed to help with insomnia. The natural mineral phosphates in chamomile tea help calm nervous energy. People also bathe in chamomile tea if they have a sunburn or rinse their hair with it if they are blonde…it’s supposed to give blonde hair a shine.

However, be careful with some of these herbal teas if you have plant allergies…chamomile is a relative of the ragweed plant and if you suffer from allergies, you could have an unpleasant reaction from some herbals.

Join us for our Afternoon Tea in recognition of a 102-year tradition. Since 1914, pedestrians, cyclists, canoeists and motorists have enjoyed the customary English Tea at the Old Mill Toronto. Our Tea Menu includes a take home decorative gift box of our exclusive Centennial Tea Blend. 

Blue Diamond Cocktail Recipe



Beat the heat with this MUST try refreshing summer beverage! Great for a cool summer thirst quencher on the patio with friends.

Recipe Includes:

1 ½ oz. Absolut® Citron
½ oz. McGuinness® Blue Curacao
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz. Cranberry Juice
Lime Wedge Garnish
The Old Mill Toronto Patio is open! It’s time to take your dining experience outside! The Old Mill Toronto Patio is an ideal place to meet friends and colleagues for afternoon tea, lunch, dinner or to simply unwind and enjoy our Summertime Patio Cocktail Menu.

Water Over The Bridge

Ice takes out the Old Mill Bridge in 1916.

The site of the Old Mill Bridge, March 29, 1916. ty of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1231, Item 326.

For most of the year, the valley of the Humber River is one of Toronto’s more serene locations. Bordered extensively by parkland, the Humber winds its way through the western part of the city, and attracts city-dwellers seeking a peaceful escape from their urban troubles. A bit north of Bloor Street is a picturesque stone bridge, known by a variety of names, which connects Old Mill Road to Catherine Street. This bridge dates from 1916, and serves as a reminder of the violence that the Humber is capable of when winter gives way to spring.

Prior to the arrival of British settlers in the late eighteenth century, the lower section of the Humber had been used by many other peoples. Numerous First Nations groups have lived in the area, and used the trail along the Humber to travel through the lands connecting Lake Ontario with the north. The French first arrived at the Humber in the seventeenth century, and eventually established a trading post at Humber Bay.

The landscape of the area began changing significantly in the 1790s, following the Toronto Purchase, when John Graves Simcoe established the King’s Mill at what is now known as the Old Mill site. Water from the Humber was diverted into a mill race, which powered the mill’s wheel, before rejoining the rest of the river further south. Over time, more mills set up along the Humber, adding additional mill races and dams to better capitalize on the water’s power. According to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, there were a total of 164 mills built on the Humber.

Having greater impact on the landscape, however, was the deforestation along the river. As industry grew, so did the demand for wood. The removal of the trees and surrounding undergrowth eliminated much of the land’s ability to absorb water, resulting in increasingly severe floods.

The Old Mill Bridge, looking west, during the First World War. The bridge and its environs were frequently used during local military training. City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1244, Item 793C.

Ice jams are known to have been a major problem for the millers along the Humber. In The Merchant-Millers of the Humber Valley: A Study of the Early Economy of Canada, Sidney Thomson Fisher writes that “year after year, floods and ice jams damaged or washed out the mill dams, but the millers repaired or rebuilt them; the advantages of the gradients and the rapid flow of the stream outweighed the disadvantages.” Numerous bridges were taken out as well, as raised water levels brought large chunks of ice down the Humber at road level, pushing against the bridges until they gave way.

It is believed that the first bridge at what is now Old Mill Road was erected in 1837. The bridge at (Old) Dundas Street to the north was then the primary road for those seeking to travel a great distance, with the Old Mill bridge used more by local residents to connect them to the immediate area. The bridge that enables Bloor to cross the Humber today was not completed until after the First World War; although Bloor Street was the second concession line, it did not become a major arterial in the area until development increased in the early twentieth century. Those seeking to continue west from Bloor Street would go north and cross the Humber using the Old Mill bridge.

March 24, 1914. The ice is nearlt at the height of the bridge. City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1231, Item 1637.

By the 1910s, the bridge at the Old Mill site was primarily made of steel, with stone piers on either side of the river. Fears for its survival were an annual occurrence when the big thaw came at the end of winter. It only narrowly survived destruction in 1914. On March 24 of that year, the Star reported that the Humber “is one vast acreage of piled, twisted ice cakes, and in quantity, according to some of the [local] farmers, equals any winter of years past.” While it normally cleared the water by 20 feet, the bridge was reportedly only six feet above the jammed ice. Three days later, the Star reported that the ice was now touching the bottom of the bridge, despite continuous efforts upriver to break up the ice with dynamite. According to one article, “the bridge is badly twisted, and in parts of it the structure is very badly distorted. As yet, however, vehicles still pass over it, and it is still thought safe enough for traffic.”

With the newspapers fully expecting the bridge to give out, warm weather and heavy rains over the next two days melted much of the ice, thereby granting it a reprieve. It would not be so fortunate two years later.

Two men indicating the height of the ice. City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 84, Item 76.

On the afternoon of March 28, 1916, the ice once again reached the level of the bridge, effectively turning it into a dam. The Telegram reported that bridge was “groaning under a load of ice all afternoon with the flood swirling over the deck.” Around 6:00, an ice jam up at Lambton broke, putting even more pressure on the Old Mill bridge, as the water levels rose, reportedly up to eight feet over the bridge’s roadway.

The World quoted York County Constable R.B. Dennis as saying “it was just about 6:30 when thousands of tons of ice piled against the bridge… The west span went first, facing south, and was taken completely off the piers. Then the east one went off the abutments, but the centre span held. The ice is piled anywhere from 10 to 15 feet high over the valley north of the bridge and covers, I should say, 15 acres.”Robert Home Smith, the prominent local land owner and developer, told the World“ the whole valley was a rushing sea of water from bank to bank, and the immense bodies of ice were simply irresistible when they got behind the [bridge] structure… Fine trees, 70 years old, were snapped off and borne downstream.”

After the great torrent of water and ice had cleared, the centre span of bridge reportedly remained, absurdly marooned in the centre of the Humber, surrouded by chunks of ice and cut off from the road. “To the south, ice, trunks of trees, and parts of the wreck lie in chaotic confusion,” wrote the Telegram. “The remainder of the bridge itself is almost twisted beyond recognition, the steel supports at the base resembling corkscrews.”

The twisted remains of the bridge, March 29, 1916. City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1231, Item 326A.

The Daily Mail and Empire reported that about 30 spectators had a narrow escape when the section of the bridge they were on gave out, forcing them to scramble to land. “Two men were unable to escape to the river banks, and were carried downstream about half a mile before they succeeded in extricating themselves from their perilous position by grasping the limb of a tree, hanging low across the water, and dragging themselves to safety.”

William James, the early Toronto photojournalist, was on site, reportedly laying in wait for the big ice break with a “moving-picture machine.” According to the Star, who ran one of James’ photos on the front page the next day. James “was rewarded with securing pictures of the great wave and of the first smash of the bridge and he was forced to flee for his own life from his perch on the bank.” The moving images he recorded do not appear to have survived, although many of his still images record the aftermath and demonstrate the extent of the damage.

The remains of the bridge. City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1231, Item 330.

York County Council immediately vowed to replace the structure, and soon did so with the bridge that remains on the site today, at a reported cost of $50,000. Although initial newspaper reports promised a high-level bridge of solid steel, the finished product designed by Frank Barber is primarily made of concrete, a relatively novel engineering innovation for the time. This material proved stronger than the previous wood and steel bridges at the site, aided also by the three high arches and the wedges on the bridge’s supports, which encourage ice and debris to pass underneath.

The new bridge faced its first significant test the following March, only five weeks after it first opened to traffic. On March 24, 1917, the Star wrote that “the annual antics of the Humber River commenced early this morning, when a heavy ice field north of the new Bloor Street stone bridge near the ‘Old Mill’ crumpled and drifted towards the bridge, piling on both approaches.” By all accounts, however, the only damage done was to the dirt road approaching the bridge, and the new bridge survived the ordeal.

The current Old Mill Bridge, as it looked in September of 1917. City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1231, Item 1536.

Nearly 100 years later, the Old Mill Bridge remains on the site, having withstood every annual thaw of the river, along with the severe flooding of Hurricane Hazel in 1954. It was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1983.


Spanish Fritatta

Serve this simple and delicious Fritatta at your next Sunday Brunch get-together!

Goat Cheese, Roasted Pepper and Baby Spinach Fritatta

Serves 6
Pre heat oven to 375

*  12 eggs
*  1/2 cup milk
*  2 roasted peppers – cut into bite size strips
*  1 cup fresh baby spinach (use extra if desired)
*  1 cup goat cheese (1 x 125 mg package)
*  2 tbsp. butter
*  1 white onion or 2 green onions – chopped  
*  salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter & saute onion until soft

Whisk eggs with milk, add cooked onion, roasted pepper, spinach and half the goat cheese

Grease casserole dish (approx. 9 x 12) add mixture

Bake for 30 minutes, check if cooked by tapping top to see if firm

Add balance of goat cheese, broil for 3 minutes to melt