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Let Them Have Cake

Dorothy and Jim were married at the Old Mill Toronto in 1957.  When asked to describe their wedding cake, Dorothy remembered a two tier structure with a first layer of roses and the second with cherubs.  They both described the decorative piece on top.  “It was a bride and groom under an arbour” reflected Dorothy.

“I was going to say cage” giggled Jim.

The couple is but one of a number of couples reflecting on their wedding day at the Old Mill Toronto.  The iconic landmark near the banks of the Humber River in Etobicoke, is celebrating its own anniversary; 100 years and it still has the VOW factor.

Barry and Patsy exchanged their vows in the sixteenth century chapel at the Old Mill under the dappled light of the stained glass windows and candlelit chandeliers.

Most men might not remember the finite details of their wedding day 34 years later, but Barry was a banquet captain at the Old Mill and Patsy worked in catering. Barry remembers vividly.

“When the ceremony was finished, the wedding party was about to take their pictures, the Old Mill surprised us with a complimentary pre-reception for our guests.  I will always remember my cousin coming around the corner and yelling out ‘hey everyone, they’re serving sandwiches in the Mill Room.’”

The ‘sandwiches’ were in fact labour intensive canapés and hors d’oeuvres hand prepared by the chef for their 120 guests.

Barry reflects on a perfect reception in the Brule Ballroom (think hardwood floors and wood-burning fireplace). “There was a strolling musician; a violin player who went to each table playing requests accompanied by an accordionist.”  Barry’s request was Flight of the Bumblebee and he is still in awe with the memory of that performance.

Baked Alaska was always an event for weddings at the Old Mill. “Before serving, the lights would be dimmed, then the band would start up and the servers marched in with sparklers on the dessert plates and placed them in front of their guests at the same time.”

Henny and Leo’s wedding in the Old Mill Chapel was in 1988. Henny had been introduced to the Old Mill Tea Room by her sister when she immigrated to Canada in 1975 and it held a place in her heart ever since.

“We had the same minister as my sister did nine years earlier.  He was a really nice man.  He took his time and made us feel special.”

“We liked the idea of having everything in one place.  It was easier for our guests. After the ceremony we went to take pictures in the garden and our guests could get some fresh air and go for a walk as well.”

Henny described a European style reception; hors ‘oeuvres in the Mill Room for 60 people.

“They couldn’t do enough for us.  Everything was perfect.  On our first anniversary they sent us a card and offered us a complimentary cake to celebrate at the Old Mill.”

When Lori and Mauro got married at the Old Mill their cake was something of a showstopper.

Lori surprised her groom with a custom cake replicating his 40’ Silverton powerboat. She said “all the bartenders and servers wore captains’ hats.  My husband loved it.”

Lori and Mauro had 250 guests at their wedding in 2005. “After the ceremony in the chapel we went straight to a tent set up in the garden for cocktails.  It was April so there were heaters.  We had a martini bar and oyster bar.”

Dinner was in Guildhall with musical accompaniment by the Downchild Blues Band.

Lori said they stayed in the honeymoon suite, “it was gorgeous.  It had two rooms, giving us a separate bedroom.  And we had a fireplace!”

If there is one thing that the Old Mill has been doing the same for a hundred years it is making every guest experience unique.

Natalie Bauer, director of marketing and events for the Old Mill Toronto said “we are fortunate to have a selection of different banquet rooms to accommodate large groups or intimate settings. We have the beautiful gardens for picture taking and a patio for outdoor cocktails.

“There is a florist on site who can take care of all the flower details”.

“Our spa has been so popular we had to give it larger space.  Our brides like to come the night before the wedding with their attendants, get their aesthetic treatments and then go back to their rooms to enjoy a glass of wine.  It’s a lovely way to be pampered the night before the big day.”

Any couple booking their 2015 wedding at the Old Mill will be automatically entered to win $10,000 toward their wedding. This includes a wedding night stay in a King Suite. Contest details are at oldmilltoronto.com.

Isn’t that the icing on the cake?

Pam Stellini



Robert Home Smith

February 4, 1935:

Robert Home Smith dies at age 58. Smith established a real estate company in 1913 and opened the Old Mill Tea Rooms on the day World War I was declared, which remains a prestigious Toronto restaurant and event venue.

In 1878 the building housed a flour mill that accepted the first revenue freight delivery in Toronto from the Credit Valley Railway. Smith owned 3,000 acres of land in the Humber Valley and his prestigious Kingsway Park subdivision was built along the lower portion of the Toronto Belt Line Railway’s Humber Loop.

Robert Home Smith was also President of the Algoma Central Railway and chairman of the Toronto Harbour Commission during the time the waterfront was being redeveloped for the Union Station railway viaduct.

In this capacity, Smith was largely responsible for the establishment of Sunnyside Amusement Park.

 



New Year’s Resolutions

           

Promises, Promises, Promises… why do we do this to ourselves? Are we truly setting a realistic goal or are we setting ourselves up for failure? Do we tell anyone about our resolution because that would be making it official, which maybe isn’t such a bad thing as we might feel more accountable to following it through.

Do you know what the top ten commonly broken New Year’s Resolutions are?

Maybe the resolutions we set for ourselves are to general, maybe we should start by taking a good look at ourselves and changing little things that could make a huge potential difference. Like stop beating yourself up if you can’t make it to the gym because your ran out of time, but when you have time make sure you do go! Who care’s how many people like your photo on instagram or you had 302 people following you on twitter but now you have 300! Social Media anxiety is a waste of time and something you can change.

Cross something off your bucket list that you have always wanted to try. It could be something from riding a roller coaster to jumping out of a plane…stop making excuses and just do it.  

Perhaps the key to a perfect New Year’s Resolution is…ready…wait for it……. Enjoy Life more! It’s an important step to a healthier and happier you! Why not try a new hobby like water colour painting and tap your inner artist or pick up a sport like skiing or bike riding. Of course heading to the spa for some “You” time is a great way to enjoy life more… “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention, you should try a yoga class, who knows maybe it will be the beginning of a new you! It’s different for everyone, but ultimately yoga makes you feel great in body, mind and soul. Yoga removes limitations and provides clarity to enhance your experience of life.

And with that we wish you all a wonderful beginning to a New Year and an outstanding ending! And good luck with your resolutions! may you appreciate all the little things in life because that’s what truly matters in the end. It’s not about what what you look like or what you own but about the person you have become.



Tandoori Tofu Recipe

In November The Girls Great Escape enjoyed this dish for lunch at the Old Mill Toronto, so much so they asked us to share the recipe with everyone!

This recipe feeds 8 to 10 people

- Minced Garlic 2 Tbsp

- Minced Ginger 2 Tbsp

- Cumin Ground 1 Tbsp

- Nutmeg Ground ½ Tsp

- Cinnamon Ground 2 Tsp

- Tumeric Ground ½ Tsp

- Chili Powder 2 Tbsp

- Coriander Powder 4 Tbsp

- Cardamom 2 Tbsp

- Coconut Milk 1 can 437 ml

- Yogurt ½ Cup

- Salt and Pepper To Taste

- Paprika 1 Tbsp

- Lemon Juice 2 oz

- Chick Peas – 3 litres (approx 1 large can)

- Tomatoes 3 litres

- Tofu 30 oz Diced

- Tandoori Paste 2 Tbsp

- Curry Powder 2 Tbsp

- Canola Oil 8 oz

Method:

1. In a large sauté pan add 6 oz oil.

2. Saute onion, ginger, garlic until the onion is translucent (about 4 minutes)

3. Add tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes

4. Add Spices, let cook for another 10 minutes

5. Add chick peas and diced tofu

6. Let simmer for another 20 minutes.

7. Stir occasionally

8. Add yogurt and coconut milk. Simmer for another 10 minutes

9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This particular dish can be served with the side of your choice. We have done it with saffron basmati rice. You can also serve with warm naan bread or on its own.

 



The History of The Old Mill Toronto

As we round the mark leading to our Centennial Celebrations we thought it may be appropriate to share a little history on the Old Mill Toronto, a Toronto tradition since 1914.

The Old Mill and the Valley in which it sits, have long been a part of Canadian Heritage. Centuries before the coming of the white man, the Huron Indians roamed the Humber Valley.

In 1615 Samuel Champlain sent a young guide to scout the route southward from the Lake Simcoe region . So it was that Etienne Brule became the first recorded explorer to see the Humber and view Lake Ontario. Brule lived among the Huron Indians, learning their language and customs, becoming an important mediator between the Huron Indians and the French settlers. Brule travelled the Humber, part of a long established trading route known as “Toronto Carrying Place”. Ornaments, weapons and furs were popular trading commodities.   

During the 1600′s the Humber River was known as St. Johns Creek, but was renamed by John Graves Simcoe, the first Governor of Upper Canada, after two rivers in his homeland. In 1793 Simcoe ordered the Queens Rangers to build a saw mill, which he named the Kings Mill.  This was the first industrial site of what is known today as the City of Toronto. 

The days of trading along the Humber Valley had transformed the Humber River into a vibrant industry of Mills throughout the Valley. By 1834 many mills were in operation along the banks of the Humber River which became the hub of both business and social activities of the day.

The Kings Mill was leased and later bought by Thomas Fisher. The Mill was poorly constructed so Thomas Fisher replaced the original Lumber Mill with a Grist Mill in 1834 just a few yards to the north of the original Mill. Years later William Gamble, Etobicokes first Reeve, bought the Grist Mill and shortly thereafter built a new larger Mill in the same location. This new Mill was destroyed by fire in 1849.

Not to be deterred, Gamble had a 4th Mill constructed, the stone, lumber and the heavy beams for this Mill came from the Humber Valley. The upper loft of the Mill served as a storage area for apples. During the frigid winters the loft was kept heated by a wood burning stove in order to prevent the apples from freezing. During the cold winter of 1881 the stove overheated and fire destroyed this latest Mill.  

The introduction of steam power once again transformed the Humber Valley from an industry of bustling Mills to a backdrop of leisure and recreation.

By the early 1900′s one man’s vision began the transformation of the Humber Valley forever. Robert Home Smith, financier, railway builder, real estate developer and avid sportsman purchased 3,000 acres in the Humber Valley, from Lake Ontario to what was to become Eglinton Avenue. His concept was to develop a unique modern community.

The early prosperous years of the 1900′s were shattered with the out break of World War 1 on August 4, 1914, the day the Old Mill tea garden opened. The Tea Garden acted as the community centre for the residents of this new residential development, a place where news and events of the day were exchanged. Home Smith’s motto “A LITTLE BIT OF ENGLAND FAR FROM ENGLAND” epitomized his objective to create a Toronto suburb of grace and tranquility through English tudor architecture.  

During the war years the original bridge adjacent to the Old Mill was washed out. It was a tribute to Home Smith’s political connections and financial clout that a new bridge was quickly constructed in 1916, during the lean years of World War 1. 

As the popularity of the Old Mill grew, Home Smith began the first of many additions to the Old Mill building. The print room was built in 1919 and was one of the few places of the time that offered the enjoyment of dinner and dancing in an elegant atmosphere. Thus began the live music tradition at the Old Mill.  

By the year 1928 Home Smith centralized the hub of his activities around the Old Mill with his next addition the administrative office of “Home Smith and Company” later to be known as “Home Smith Properties.” The cottage was built soon afterwards and became a popular private entertainment spot for Home Smith.

In response to the ever growing popularity of the Old Mill, design and construction of the Dance Hall and the Garret Room began soon after. Home Smith paid great attention to carry over the design features of the familiar English Tudor architecture into the Dance Hall design.

Who could have predicted that shortly thereafter on October 25th 1929 the financial world was to suddenly collapse with the crash of the stock market.

Through the depression years the Old Mill continued to attract a regular clientele. By now the reputation of the Old Mill stretched well beyond the boundaries of the Humber Valley to include all of Canada. 

Groups became a familiar site enjoying the established afternoon English Tea tradition, which began in 1914. Home Smith continued to promote the Old Mill as a focal point of his development. The Old Mill management sent personalized letters to the residents of the area outlining many of the Old Mill’s attractions including dining and dancing, facilities for private parties  and special occasions with the emphasis on the quality of food prepared by their famous European Chef.

In February 1935, Robert Home Smith died suddenly in Toronto at age 58. He never lived to see the completion of his dream.  Home Smith willed his estate to his close and long time friend Godfrey Petit who assumed the chair of President of “Home Smith and Company.”

Monday September 10, 1939 then Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie signed the proclamation of war entering Canada into the war against the German Reich. Canada’s entry into war changed daily life throughout the Country. The war effort drained the Country of it’s labour talents and other resources. 

An announcement by Home Smith and Company on October 20, 1939 stated: “Due to the uncertainty caused by the war it has been necessary for us to make certain revisions in our organization…” 

The attention to old world charm, exquisite gourmet dining and the dancing to the Big Band orchestras of the day made the old Mill a popular rendezvous for the armed forces during the war years. 

The Globe and Mail of Saturday October 16, 1954 reports, “Great storm hits after 4 inches of Rain”. Toronto residents were jolted by the fury of Hurricane Hazel.” Cars were overturned, homes and businesses destroyed and carried away by the torrential rains. Thousands of people were left homeless in the wake of her storm. Many properties along the Humber Valley sustained extensive damage or were lost all together.  The Old Mill bridge, the original Mill ruins and the Old Mill itself were spared from Hurrican Hazel. Only the road adjoining the Old Mill bridge sustained damage.

Barely two years later with the continued popularity of the Old Mill, it was expanded once again. The addition of the Humber banquet room became a new feature for private parties which was elegantly decorated with wood panelling and lead pane windows over looking the picturesque Humber Valley. Over the next two decades the Old Mill continued to function in the tradition of its past and became a well known landmark to the ever sprawling city for Toronto. 

In 1973, William Hodgson, an Etobicoke resident, reportedly saved the Old Mill from demolition to make way for a new residential development. William Hodgson closed the building for massive renovations. New sections were added, a Wedding Chapel built, rooms were restored and newly decorated.

In 1986 the Old Mill was once again under construction in response to the popularity attributed to the boom years of the 1980′s. An entire new wing of Banquet rooms was added. The Old Mill had grown to a 16 room function facility nestled on the banks of the Humber river.

 In June 1991, then new owners, George and Michael Kalmar became the latest proprietors of the Old Mill. In October 2001, the Mill “ruins” were transformed once again into a boutique Hotel that now stands proudly within the walls.

So begins the new chapter in shaping the history of the Old Mill.

 



Turbo Charge Your Life

Part 2 
The best way to get things done is to push yourself to start just a tiny bit, 5 to 10 minutes a day. One baby step. There is a rule in psychology that says “YOU DO, THEREFORE YOU ARE, THEREFORE YOU DO”. Just doing something causes you to think differently about yourself. If you start to do your goal activity like say exercising for 10 minutes a day, you will start to think, “I’m an athletic person” and thereby start to get into a habit of doing things towards your goal. 

There are lots of motivational books, tapes, training programs and courses that talk about visualizing yourself achieving your goals and doing self affirmations by telling yourself that you are a great person and you can do anything. There’s also the popular best-selling book “The Secret” which says that you just have to ask the universe for whatever you want and think positively to attract good things.

Now as enticing and magical as all this sounds, science has proved that visualizing or fantasizing about yourself achieving goals is actually bad for you.  According to extensive studies at the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania, people who fantasize about being slim or getting a dream job, or landing the mate of their dreams, are more likely NOT to reach their goals.

There are two reasons for this… since fantasy is just that, fantasy, people who daydream are often unprepared for the setbacks or difficulties that come along on the road to success. When something goes wrong, the visualizers tend to give up their dream instead of persisting. Researchers also found that indulging in fantasy and escapism was more fun than actually doing the work required to reach the goal, so visualizers tended to waste too much time dreaming instead of doing.

Now having said that there is a kind of visualization that actually works. Instead of visualizing yourself as a top tennis player, visualize yourself going through the process of training. Visualize yourself eating and sleeping properly, getting out on the tennis courts with an instructor, practicing your swings, etc. Visualizing the process of getting to your goal is actually effective.

Imagine the benefits of achieving your goals and also visualize the kinds of barriers or problems you are likely to encounter when you go after your dream. These kinds of strategic visualizations actually work very well. So, don’t daydream about sailing on a yacht with George Clooney; visualize how you’re going to get on that yacht with Clooney and some of the setbacks your likely to incur. And once you’ve figured out how to get on that yacht with Clooney, let me know.

Other techniques that have been scientifically proven to work in achieving goals are:

1.  Making a step-by-step plan. Write down everything you need to get to your goal and break it into daily steps.

2.  Telling other people about your goal tends to force people to complete their mission.

3. List the benefits of your goal.

4. Give yourself rewards along the way… everytime you make progress, give yourself a treat like a movie, bubble bath, new shoes, a cup of good tea.

5.  And lastly, recording your progress in a journal or chart.

Now as mentioned earlier, you are going to hit some snags on your way to the top. A great motivational speaker, Les Brown says:

“If you don’t develop the hunger and courage to pursue your goal, you will lose your nerve and you will give up on your dream. If you don’t have the courage to act life will take the initiative from you. Act on life or risk having life act on you.”

There are many setbacks that can occur in life. Toxic people are one of them…and it’s a biggie. It takes an enormous amount of energy to achieve your goals so you need to surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you and who make you feel good about yourself.

Now, what do you do when life hands you things that are totally out of your control…there are three questions you can ask yourself:

1. What can I do to move forward?
2. How can I grow from this challenge?
3. What’s within my control to change? 

Scientists have also concluded that OVERTHINKING can sometimes severely impair our judgement and convince us to choose something we don’t even like.  In Western culture we’re taught that the more we think and reason, the wiser and more rational our decisions will be. But the more we cut ourselves off from our gut feelings and natural instincts, the less equipped we are to make clear, smart choices. Our ability to pick up subconscious and nonverbal clues are more effective in guiding us to make correct decisions than hard thinking.

So don’t overthink or rationalize things, or make excuses. Go with your hunches and gut feelings! I hope you all go for the life of your dreams without delay, and don’t let anything stop you.

Written by Orli Kohn