Hidden Toronto: Todmorden Regency Cottage (aka Parshall Terry house)



Todmorden Regency Cottage


67 Pottery Road

Why you should check it out

The Todmorden Regency Cottage is at once one of Toronto’s most recognizable landmarks and one of its most secretive. 

From its spot in a hollow off Pottery Road overlooking the Don, it’s not hard to imagine life in the Muddy York of the late 1700s. 

Back then the Don Valley was a hub of industrial activity and a magnet for settlers and industrialists. Workers cottages dotted the slopes of the river bank and the Todmorden paper mill, now the Papermill Theatre and Gallery, was the first in Upper Canada to produce newsprint for the colony’s first publications including William Lyon Mackenzie’s The Colonial Advocate. The village also turned out much of the lumber, flour, beer, and bricks used to build the city.

John Graves Simcoe, who was lieutenant governor of Upper Canada at the time, ordered the first grist mill be built on the site in 1796 and the seeds of what would become Todmorden village were sown.

The Toronto Architectural Conservancy’s database on heritage properties estimates the Todmorden Regency Cottage, one of four buildings still standing on the site, was built “in the late 1820s or early 1830s.

But – and herein lies part of the mystery – “the building may have been built over a portion of an earlier home occupied by Parshall Terry.”

Terry was the Don River’s first watermaster and a member of the first legislative assembly of Upper Canada. He was born in Mattituck, New York. A British Empire Loyalist, he served on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, on July 20, 1808, Terry was crossing the Don on a floating bridge and drowned. His body was never recovered. He was 52. Another version of his tragic demise suggests he died while crossing the Don on horseback during a flood.

Terry was married to Rhoda Skinner whose brothers Isaiah and Aaron founded the first mills on the Don River in the 1790s. The Skinner family home was located a stone’s throw from Todmorden cottage on the other side of pottery road. A part of it still stands today on the site of Fantasy Farm.