By Toni Vernon & George Klump
One of our favorite places to walk within the city is through the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area, which has an entrance south off of Lawrence just to the east of the Don Valley Pkwy. If you follow the main path until just before the bridge that crosses the Don River there is a small trail that branches off upon which you can hike for many kilometers with the feeling you’ve left the city. As you first enter the park, you drive down into the valley to park your car and there nestled amongst the trees is a little white house. We’ve always been curious as to who may have lived there long ago.
Low & behold our curiosity was satisfied when we came across an article in the Don Mills Newsletter that featured the history of this little house.
According to the article, this little house was part of a small community known as Milneford Mills which was established sometime in the 1830’s. The community was established by the Milne family who owned the water powered mills, the dry good store and surrounding fields which produced wheat, peas, oats, potatoes, turnip, hay and apples. There were approximately 16 buildings in total which included a wagon shop, workers housing and a few other buildings. The founder of Milneford Mills was Alexander Milne who passed the business on to his son, William, who likely built the little white house sometime in the 1860’s.
It is pretty amazing that this house is still standing. In its history it has survived one of Toronto’s worst floods which tore through this area; the bulldozing of the valley for the construction of the Don Valley Parkway; then later the development of the Don Mills Ski Club which occupied the area behind the house to the east. The house was in private hands until 1992 and is now part of the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area.
Unfortunately it has been terribly neglected and abused. Even with its doors and windows boarded up, people have torn holes through the planks of its walls and have damaged the interior.
In February 2009 Heritage Toronto featured the house in its Building Storey’s photo exhibit. Since then various articles have been written about this little house in the valley, which has resulted in an interest to restore and preserve this historic house.
It is an interesting little piece of Don Mills’ history and well worth a visit.
George Klump and Toni Vernon are both Sales Representatives with Royal LePage R.E.S./Johnston & Daniel Division. George and Toni’s website is located at www.georgeandtoni.com