Old Mill marks centennial, honours area history with new TTC subway sign
TTC, MPP-elect Peter Milczyn partner on pictoral tribute
The Old Mill has made a name for itself over the past century as a place to celebrate milestone events, share family dinners and partake in afternoon tea.
It has become a fixture on the bank of the Humber River and cemented itself in Toronto residents’ family histories. While many people know of the Old Mill, fewer are familiar with its heritage, said its president Michael Kalmar.
“The story of the Old Mill is a wonderful story; it’s a good news story,” said Kalmar at a special reception to commemorate the centennial of the Old Mill, established Aug. 4, 1914.
In partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and with support from former Etobicoke-Lakeshore councillor and Liberal MPP-elect Peter Milczyn, The Old Mill unveiled a pictoral tribute to the early history of the Humber Valley and Kingsway area at the Old Mill subway station.
“What’s the tie in between the Old Mill and the TTC? Both are important conduits to the area,” said Kalmar during the afternoon reception Wednesday, June 18 that brought together decades-long staff members for the centennial event.
The new signage, permanently installed on walls of the east and westbound platforms of the Old Mill subway station, incorporates rare historic photographs and drawings that date back to the 1600s when Huron Indians made their homes on the banks of the Humber River to the early 1900s through the First World War and the Depression era.
“A picture tells a 1,000 words,” said Kalmar, who pointed out the Old Mill got its start as a community centre. Its founder, Robert Home Smith, who built the surrounding neighbourhoods, wanted a place where everyone in the community could come and socialize. Long before the invention of social media or the television, the Old Mill was where residents came to share news of the day, to be entertained and have afternoon tea, Kalmar said.
“Really, we’re just custodians of a wonderful tradition that we have to make sure carries on,” he said.
Natalie Bauer, director of marketing and events at the Old Mill, chose the photos that make up the words ‘Old Mill’ at its namesake subway station. She said with each letter, she wanted to tell a story. She began with photographs of the Huron Indians living along the river. She called the project “a great experience.”
The TTC’s Chief Customer Officer Chris Upfold said a project such as this one helps the transit commission create links to the communities it serves.
“This is a great thing for our customers, a great thing for the TTC. We’re excited to be a part of it,” he said.
Milczyn said the project creates a “link between a local institution, our community and the transit system, the very lifeblood of our city.”
Speaking to the staff, Milczyn thanked them for their “contribution to so many special events in people’s lives,” including his own wedding.
“The Old Mill has a special place in my heart and many people’s hearts,” he said.
Staff photo/MARY GAUDET
Employees of the Old Mill, each with decades of service to the company, gather around the new sign for Old Mill Station. The TTC and the Old Mill collaborated on the project that uses photographs from the 100 year history of the Old Mill and area to spell out the subway stop.
For further information about the Old Mill’s centennial, visit Centennial Celebrations
Story By Lisa Rainford / Bloor West Villager