Survivor of the Don, Saviour of the Don

January 01, 1884

Milne House

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Though this Gothic Revival farmhouse from the 1860s looks forlorn, its very existence in the 2010s is remarkable. "Milne House" has survived the demise of Milneford Mills, frequent floods of the Don River, and the building of the Don Valley Parkway. Its survival over the past 70 years owes much to the efforts of one man who fought to protect green space in the Toronto region and especially the East Don Valley.

House in Milne Hollow, circa 1884, Courtesy Heritage Toronto.

Charles Sauriol (1904–95) was a native Torontonian who spent his boyhood roaming the Don Valley with his Boy Scout troop. He bought property at the Forks of the Don in 1927, using it as a cottage retreat and as a base for beekeeping.

Dismayed by the impact of urban development on his beloved Don, Sauriol organized the Don Valley Conservation Association in 1946. It was the first of many conservational organizations of which he was a part that sought to protect both natural and human heritage. The work of "Mr. Conservation" was recognized twice in 1989, when the Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve was created between here and the Forks of the Don, and when Sauriol was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada for his environmental leadership.

By Wayne Reeves

House in Milne Hollow, circa 1884, Courtesy Heritage Toronto. View the image gallery