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Markham, Ontario

(Markham redirects here. See also Markham (disambiguation)).

Markham (2001 population 208,615) is a town in York Regional Municipality, directly north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Markham is the largest incorporated town in Canada and also part of the Greater Toronto Area. Markham was first surveyed as a township in 1793, first settled in 1794, and incorporated as a town in 1972. Markham is twinned with Nordlingen, Germany.

Markham is comprised of four distinct communities: Markham Village, Unionville, Milliken, and Thornhill. While the town has historically been recognized as a suburb of Toronto, many high-tech industries have decided to locate in Markham because of the relative abundance of land, low tax rates, and good transportation routes. The town has begun to brand themselves as Canada's "High-Tech Capital".

Table of contents
1 History
2 Law/Government
3 Geography
4 Universities/Colleges
5 Hospitals
6 Transportation
7 Sites of Interest


When Upper and Lower Canada were established in 1791, John Graves Simcoe was appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. Simcoe named the Township of Markham, north of the Town of York (now Toronto), after his friend, William Markham, the Archbishop of York.

Markham Township was originally surveyed in 1793-94, but not until 1801 was the land divided into 10 concessions running north and south, with 6 sideroads running east/west.

Eventually, the boundaries of Markham Township occupied the area, as follows:

In 1794, William Berczy led 75 German families from New York State to Markham Township. Each was granted 200 acres. Because of hardships, many returned to York and Niagara. In 1797, because of the revolution in France in 1789, many nobility fled the country and set off for Canada to take advantage of free land grants in Upper Canada. They were totally unprepared for survival under such crude conditions and most of them returned to their homeland.

From 1803 to 1812, the largest group of settlers were Pennsylvania Germans, most of whom were Mennonites. These highly skilled craftsmen and knowledgeable farmers had the best chance for survival because they had already survived harsh conditions in Pennsylvania. From 1830 on, many Irish, Scottish and English emigrated to Upper Canada to escape the famine and overpopulation of their homeland.

Markham's early years blended the rigours of homesteading with the development of agricultural-based industries. The many rivers and streams in the Township soon supported water-powered saw and grist mills, and later woollen mills. With improved transportation routes, such as Yonge Street and the growing population, urbanization increased. By 1857 most of the Township had been cleared of timber and was under cultivation. Villages like Thornhill, Unionville and Markham greatly expanded and new, specialized industries such as wagon works, tanneries, farm implement and furniture factories sprang up.

In 1871, the Toronto and Nipissing Railway Company, with stations in Unionville and Markham, officially opened its line from Scarborough to Uxbridge. Initially, the railway brought renewed prosperity and rapid development. Farmers and millers had a more convenient means of transporting their products to Toronto. Other merchants had easier access to supplies and business boomed.

The first form of structured municipal government occurred in 1850 when the Township of Markham was created. On November 20, 1872, the Warden of York County signed the By-law of Incorporation, which provided for the election of a Council for the Village of Markham. The Village of Markham grew to a population of 1100 by 1891.

The increased communication with Toronto brought on by the railway and further enhanced by the development of the telegraph, the telephone and the automobile, ultimately led to the demise of the villages in the Township after the turn of the century. Local industries were simply unable to compete with the larger manufacturers and suppliers of Toronto, and Markham soon reverted to a quiet, rural community.

From 1945 onward, the face of Markham began to change rapidly. It was no longer a community whose inhabitants worked mainly within the area. It evolved into a fast-growing suburb, where the majority of its residents commuted into Toronto. As a result, rural Markham disappeared in the face of tremendous urban growth.

By 1969, the Township of Markham consisted of several villages, including Markham, Unionville, and parts of Thornhill. In 1971, the Regional Municipality of York was established. Northern portions of Markham Township were annexed to the municipalities of Richmond Hill and Whitchurch-Stouffville, while the balance of Markham Township was incorporated in the Town of Markham and the present town boundaries set.

In 1976, Markham's population was approximately 56,000. Since that time, the population has more than tripled.


The Mayor of Markham is Donald Cousens. The Markham Town Council is comprised of the Mayor, four Regional Councillors, and eight Councillors each representing one of the town's eight wards. The Mayor and four Regional Councillors are elected by the community to represent the Town of Markham at the regional level.

The members of council, called councillors or aldermen, are elected by the municipality's voters. Council members are paid by the municipality for their services, but in many municipalities, members of council usually serve part-time and work at other jobs as well.

Municipal elections are conducted every three years, and Members of Council are elected by the residents to a three-year term of office. The selection of members for the offices of Mayor and Regional Councillors are made Town-wide, while Ward Councillors are elected by individual ward.


Markham is bounded by Richmond Hill, Ontario and Vaughan, Ontario to the west, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario to the north, Pickering, Ontario to the east, and Toronto, Ontario to the south. It is at 43 53' N, 79 15' W.




Sites of Interest

North: Whitchurch-Stouffville Northeast: Uxbridge
West: Vaughan, Richmond Hill Markham East: Pickering
South: Toronto