Article Index

Another of our members sent in this interesting tidbit:

Todmorden Mills, which has been through several incarnations (mill, riding stables, and now historical site), houses a theatre for which I volunteered. While I never experienced anything unusual, several people who work there swear that it's haunted. There are two stories that I know of.

The first is of an old woman, who seems quite harmless and friendly. She's been seen by a couple of people, walking about the theatre late at night.

The other is less pleasant, but certainly not threatening. Loud noises like moving furniture or props can be heard from the loft spaces late at night when no one is around, and people working in the sound booth above the audience have seen a grey form flash past the windows overlooking the stage (the windows are about 20' above the ground).

Todmorden Mills

The following is a "reader update" on the Todmorden Mils...

I read the submission on Todmorden Mills. I was a volunteer tour guide and historical interpreter there from age 8 to 14. The report I read on your site interested me. Here is my story:

One of the houses on the site (the Helliwell house) is haunted. I believe it is the female entity that the author referred to.

The lady of the house died in childbirth. Two years later the son that she gave birth to died in a mill accident (fell into the machinery, very messy) or so the story goes. This could explain the other haunting in the theater (which was the mill).

Todmorden Mills


When I was about 12, I was volunteering at close one night. The curator sent me to the house to get a broom. It was getting dark. As I approached the house my flash light died (ironic, no?) I was able to unlock the door and I stepped into the kitchen, reaching for the broom.

As I did this I heard up the maid's staircase (from the master bedroom) the soft voice of a woman speaking. It sounded like she was speaking to a child. I couldn't make out what she was saying though. I froze, I've never been more terrified, I also remember it being very, unusually, cold. The research that I have done on the topic since explained this.

Anyway, I ran out of the house and back to the main building. I haven't been in the building since.

Several years later a friend of mine was at Todmorden Mills with a boyfriend. This was a popular place for drinking and making out, etc. Anyway, she looked up while arguing with her boyfriend and saw the figure of a women in one of the windows. This story obviously caught my attention. So, I took her there and asked her to point out the window. It was the same room where I heard the voice, the master bedroom.

The flashlight occurrence is fairly common but the fact that this individual ended up backing up her own experience with that of a friend AND it was already on our site makes this story particularly interesting. The author of this report is also now helping us out with historical checks into other "haunts" so we truly appreciate the feedback.

Of note, October of 2000 brought two people who said that they also experienced the ghosts of Todmorden Mills, (one of whom thought that one of her stories was the one we'd published! Interestingly enough, it wasn't proving that the one woman has been seen in the same situation more than once!)

While discussing ghosts with a person working in another of Toronto's "haunted" historical structures, she had mentioned that although the location we were at (in Downtown,) had never yielded much to her (she is not really a ghost enthusiast,) she had worked at Todmorden and THAT, she said, seemed to be haunted just by the way it felt.


Update: August 2003 While researching the site to improve the report on these pages, Sue and Matthew took some pictures of the site and of Helliwell House in particular. Please note: the Toronto and Ontario GHRS do not support "orb" or "mist" photos as proof of paranormal phenomena but, this photo intrigued us.

Todmorden mills

The photo on the above is of a room in Helliwell House that has been layed out as an office and we noticed that, on the chair, we have what might be seen as a "mist" or possibly a weird light reflection. We honestly do not know. The room was dark, the weather outside (and in) was warm (25 degrees centigrade) but with low humidity. There were no recent open flames in the house and no known reason for any smoke or vapours.

zoomed version of the photo is below



We are not requesting e-mails on guesses or known issues, we are simply presenting this for your own edification. We cannot qualify this as "paranormal" as we were not collecting data using thorough methodology so it was imperfectly collected and therefore, we, the GHRS, cannot say this is or isn't anything be that a "ghost" or a reflection of normal light.

So, knowing that we have our own grave doubts about this being anything "terribly paranormal" in origin, we leave it to you, the reader to decide what you think the image is.

Update from October 2006 (posted January 2007)

I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. My class of 20 ghost researchers were doing an on-site at Todmorden Mills on Oct 14, 2006.

It was one of four sites we visited that day, and because we were largely outside we didn't hold any hopes of finding anything. The day was overcast and cool, but not cold enough to see one's breath.

As we stood outside Helliwell House and listened to our tour guide talk about the known ghostly experiences of staff and visitors, I caught movement in the corner of my eye. One student who had a tri-field meter was sent over to do readings. About three feet from the corner of the building (again, outdoors) the meter went nuts. Lit up like a Christmas tree.

Another student turned and took a series of photos with his digital camera. In the first two photos there is nothing remarkable. Then there was this one. A faint mist appears over the researcher that is not caught on any photos previous or subsequent in the series.

I'm not a big believer in this mist/orb stuff, but this one...well I was there. My visual distraction in addition to the camera capture and the technical reading gave me a real sense that we "caught" something.

As we walked away (as a group) a shutter on an upstairs window crashed open.The color drained out of our tour guide's face and she told us that shutter was locked.Nobody had been in the building for at least 18 hours. She had locked the shutter herself.

Needless to say, it was a good day for the class!

Our thanks to the TDSB self interest course instructor and students for this submission.

Photo Credit: J. Brown

Further Findings: As a reminder, PSICAN groups do not accept mists, orbs, or vortex photos as evidence for the paranormal. In this case, we made the exception in order to show our research findings...

PSICAN and Torontoghosts with ParaResearchers has done extensive tests an research to look into EMF variances and instances of the paranormal and have found, despite the plethora of "ghost hunters" using them, no correlation whatsoever with perceived paranormal events and variances with ambient EM readings. Click here to read more.

Also, the photographer said that it was warm enough that they could not see their breath. Studying weather systems that day have proven that this was not the case... or at least, it is not at all likely the case.

According to Weather Underground which keeps accurate weather data every fifteen minutes for the GTA, that day had a mean temperature of six degrees celsius... or forty-four degrees Fahrenheit. It had also rained earlier in the day and there was a high humidity level in the air (alongside cool temperatures) and one also must note that Todmorden is in a valley... The Don Valley to be exact... which does tend to be cooler than the average in the city.

Ergo: Breath vapour cannot be ruled out as causation.

Although we have no doubt that the witness did not "see" breath vapour, it is possible that due to their movements and positions, they were not aware of it... but the camera "clicked" at just the "right" spot giving them the anomalous photo.