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Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve

About The Preserve

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Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve is a 9 hectare natural area in the Don Valley, Toronto. The site consists of a remnant portion of the Don River and associated floodplain, and is bordered by steep slopes of the Don Valley. The site today is quite different from 250 years ago when the area was colonized by Europeans.

When Europeans arrived in the late 1700s the Don River flowed through the site. A forest of giant white pines, bur oaks and massive elm trees supported bears and wolves, and wildflowers carpeted the ground in spring.

A lumber mill was built at Todmorden and much of the original forest was cleared to provide timber for the burgeoning city. Subsequently, a flour mill and a brewery were built at Todmorden and by the mid-1800s it was an important and bustling industrial centre.

Todmorden was further transformed in the 1900s by the dumping of broken bricks from the adjacent Don Valley Brick Works, and later by the addition of fill from construction of the Don Valley Parkway about 1960.

Neglected, the site was invaded by exotic trees such as Manitoba maple and crack willow, and herbaceous weeds such as garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed which shade out the native wildflowers. Garbage and salt-spray blowing in off the expressway added to the slow degradation of the site.

Today, volunteers are working with corporate and local government partners to restore the site. Gradually, native trees, shrubs and wildflowers are being re-established at Todmorden Mills. Wildlife is also reappearing. Local citizens can now stroll around the Oxbow trail and enjoy the natural environment.

The Todmorden Wildflower Preserve is a charitable organization run by volunteers. We conduct plantings, weed control, garbage cleanups, and trail improvements. Members give guided walks throughout the year, and visitors are encouraged to contribute their wildlife sightings to our monitoring scheme.