A brief history of one of Toronto’s pioneering industrial families

The story of the Taylor family begins in 1821 when John Taylor Senior, along with his wife Margaret and their seven children, left the county of Staffordshire, England, for the New World.

After settling briefly in Cherry Valley, near Albany, New York, they moved to Vaughan Township, Canada, in 1825. There they pioneered for nine years before finally making their home at the fork of the Don River.

In 1839, three of John Taylor’s sons, John, Thomas and George, purchased land in the Don Valley, marking the beginning of the family’s ventures in various industries.

They established paper, grist, and grist mills, which became crucial components of the local economy. Their paper mills operated 24 hours a day, supplying various types of paper across Canada, including newsprint and book paper.

John Taylor’s innovative spirit led to major breakthroughs in the Canadian paper industry when he developed an alternative method of papermaking using wood pulp. His patented technique revolutionized the industry and strengthened the family’s industrial reputation.

Meanwhile, one of John’s cousins, William Taylor, came across rich clay deposits in the Don Valley while working on a fence in 1882. This discovery led the Taylors to establish the Don Valley Brick Works, which quickly became one of the county’s most important brickworks. .

The significance of the brickworks became especially apparent after the devastating Great Fire of 1904, which destroyed downtown Toronto. In the aftermath, the Brick Factory played a crucial role in the city’s rebuilding efforts, supplying the bricks needed for the reconstruction.

The Taylor family’s journey from England to Toronto is a story of perseverance, innovation and industry. Several monuments in the Don Valley and surrounding area still serve as reminders of the Taylor family’s lasting impact on Toronto’s development.

John F. Taylor House

Built in 1885 for John F. Taylor, the third generation of the Taylor family, the Queen Anne Revival-style residence overlooks the Don Valley, where the Taylor family operated several businesses. .

The Taylor House currently serves as a residential care facility operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph, preserving its historic significance while adapting to modern needs.

Todmorden Mills

Todmorden Mills was initially managed by the Skinner family but came under the ownership of the Taylors around 1855. The site, which once produced lumber, was converted for felt paper production under the Taylors’ leadership.

todmorden mills

A view of Todmorden Mills. Photo by Still the Oldie.

Today, Todmorden Mills is a historic site and vibrant cultural center with a museum that provides insight into Toronto’s industrial heritage.

Evergreen brick factory

Before industrialization, the Don Valley and the surrounding area were indigenous territory.

In 1787, the “Toronto Purchase,” a historic agreement tainted by misunderstandings and disputes, saw the Mississaugas cede much of their land to the British, marking the transformation of the region.

brickworks toronto

The Evergreen Brick Factory in Toronto. Photo by A Great Capture.

Fast forward to 1889, when the Taylor brothers seized an opportunity that presented itself when William Taylor discovered clay ideal for making bricks. This led to the creation of the Don Valley Brick Works, known today as the Evergreen Brick Works.

Today, Evergreen Brick Works is a vibrant center for environmental education, sustainability initiatives and community involvement.

Taylor Family Cemetery and Don Mills Church

In 1839, John, Thomas and George Taylor purchased land from Samuel Sinclair and financed the first brick church in the area, which is still in use today and is known today as Don Mills United Church.

Taylor Cemetery Toronto

A sign for the Taylor Cemetery. Photo by Erin Horrocks-Pope.

The Taylor Family Cemetery was established on the church grounds around 1839 and is available for burial of Taylor Family descendants.

Currently maintained by the City of Toronto, the cemetery is no longer active, but remains a reminder of the Taylor family’s legacy of innovation and industrial pioneering.