Markham has a long and storied history, dating back to 1793 when 75 German families settled in the area. However, because of the lack of roads and the hardships settling in such a remote area, many chose to move to York (now Toronto) or Niagara.
But between 1803 and 1812, another attempt to settle the region was made. The largest groups of settlers were Pennsylvania Dutch, most of who were Mennonites. There was another growth spurt starting in about 1830, when there was a large influx of Irish, Scottish and British families.
In 1973, Markham was incorporated into a town, which also included the villages of Cornell, Markham Village, Milliken, Thornhill and Unionville.
Markham’s early years blended the hardships of the frontier with the development of agriculture-based industries. The many rivers and streams supported water-powered saw, wood and gristmills.
With the construction of major transportation routes — particularly Yonge Street in the 1800s, urbanization increased. By 1850, the first structured municipal government was formed. Villages like Thornhill, Unionville and Markham expanded and in 1871 the Toronto and Nipissing Railway build the first rail line to Markham and Unionville, which is still in use today by GO Transit.
Markham was incorporated as a town in 1972 and since that time the population has exploded. Much of Marham’s farmland has disappeared, although it can still be found north of Major Mackenzie Drive.
As of 2006, Markham comprised six major communities — Berczy Village, Cornell, Markham Village, Milliken, Thornhill and Unionville.
In 2012, town council voted to change Markham’s legal designation from town to city and is considered the most diverse communities in Canada.
What was once considered a suburb of Toronto, Markham’s housing options were primarily single-family detached homes, both in new subdivisions and heritage villages. But the city has grown up and is now offering any number of condominium and townhouse developments. The revitalization of Downtown Markham has been spearheaded by The Remington Group’s multi-use development along Main Street, which includes expansive retail shops, a Marriott Hotel, a Cineplex, as well as a variety of condo buildings and townhomes.
To see a list of lowrise homes for sale, go here.
For a list of condo offerings, go here.
Many high-tech companies have their head offices in Markham because of the abundance of land, the low tax rates and the great transportation routes. Broadcom Canada, AMD Graphics Product Group, IBM, Apple Computer, Motorola and Honeywell have all chosen Markham as their home in Canada. As well as high-tech companies, the top employers in the city include TD Waterhouse, Markham Stouffville Hospital and Amex Canada Inc.
The York Region District School Board operates secular Anglophone public schools while the York Catholic District School Board operates Anglophone Catholic schools. The Conseil scolaire Viamonde operates secular Francophone schools, and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud operates Catholic Francophone schools.
Markham currently does not have any universities but Seneca College has a large campus in Markham, offering full and part-time programs in business, marketing, tourism and aviation. York University has announced plans to build a campus next to the PanAm Centre.
Want to learn how to fly? Toronto Airways Ltd., which operates Buttonville Municipal Airport, has a very successful flight school and training centre.
In 2015, Markham was home to four sports during the Toronto Pan Am Games – water polo, badminton, table tennis and golf at Angus Glen Golf Club.
The Markham Museum offers a variety of buildings representing the continued growth of the city, including mills, businesses and family homes. There are 30 buildings on the 25- acre site, including the James Maxwell Log Cabin (1850), the Ninth Line Baptist Church (1848), the Wilson Variety Hall (1875), the Locust Hill Train Station (1936), the Acadian Train Car (1921), the Blacksmith Shop (1862) and the Cider Milll and the Saw Mill.
The Flato Markham Theatre offers over 300 live performances each year, showcasing the wide cultural diversity of the city.
The Varley Art Gallery of Markham encompasses the historic Kathleen McKay house (1840), which was the home of Group of Seven member Frederick Horsman Varley for the last 12 years of his life. Now measuring 15,000 square feet, the gallery is the second most popular tourist attraction in York Region.
Parks & Rec
Markham has dozens of parks with baseball diamonds, soccer pitches and childrens’ play areas and splash pads. The city also boasts over 22 kilometres of scenic pathways with 12 bridges that provide recreational activity for joggers and cyclists.
The largest park in Markham is the Milne Dam Conservation Park. Measuring 305 acres, it is bordered by thick forest on the south and east and the Rouge River runs through the middle. The park is a stop-off point for many migratory birds. Mount Joy Park is over 16 acres and has an outdoor ice skating rink adjacent to a community centre.
Toogood Pond is an 82-acre park that features a partially naturalized pond and marsh. The pond recently underwent revitalization, including sediment removal, restoration of the shoreline and the planting of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
Downtown Markham offers some of the best shopping in the GTA, with great little restaurants, cafés and boutique stores. With the revitalization of downtown, The Remington Group is adding another two million square feet of retail and dining space.
Markville Shopping Centre is currently the largest mall in Markham with over 160 shops and services. But the Pacific Mall – the largest Chinese indoor mall in North America – is a must for anybody looking for a bargain with over 500 shops and services. It incorporates a traditional Asian-style market with over 450 mini shops selling everything from herbs, Asian fashions, flowers, accessories, cellphones, eyeglasses and computers.
Public transit in Markham is provided by York Region Transit/Viva, which connects with all nine York Region municipalities, as well as connecting with transit services in Toronto and the Region of Peel.
GO Transit also serves Markham with train and bus service, taking riders to a variety of locations in the GTA and beyond. Markham also has easy access to Highways 404 and 407 and the DVP.