MARKHAM is situated
east of Yonge Street, which forms the boundary between it and Vaughan,
and north of the Township of Scarborough. It comprises 67,578 acres. It
was first settled about the year 1790, some years before any survey was
made. It was partially surveyed in 1794, being the third township in the
county marked out. In laying out the town-ship; Yonge Street was made
the base line. There are ten concessions fronting on Yonge Street, each
comprising thirty-five lots, the township being almost a square,
excepting the eastern line, which is also the boundary of the county,
and does not run parallel with the concession lines. Some of the lots in
the 10th concession are consequently deficient in area.
The general character
of the soil of the township is argillaceous. About one-fifth of the area
lying in the north of the township is heavy clay. A belt of sandy loam,
being about one-tenth of the acreage, runs through the centre, and the
southern section, being about three-fifths of the whole, is clay loam.
Black loam tracts are interspersed in the fiats of the Dun and Rouge
Rivers, amounting to one-tenth of the area. The soil is principally
undulating in character, and nearly all cultivable, four-fifths of it
being considered first-class land, the average price of which is $80 per
acre. Second class land is valued at $60. Water is obtainable, by
digging, at an average depth of thirty feet.
Though a few scattered
pioneers had here and there taken up land before that date, there was no
systematic attempt at settlement until 1794, when a number of Germans
came over from the United States, under the leaderbhip of William Berczy.
Governor Sirncoe, believing that many U. E. Loyalist families still
remained in the United States who would be glad of an opportunity to
settle in Canada if encouraged to do so by offers of land, held out
inducements which were responded to by a good many, who were not
actuated so much by the motive of establishing themselves under the rule
of King George, as of securing land grants. Among these were sixty-four
families of Germans who had but recently arrived from Hamburg, having
been brought out by agents to locate on | Captain Williamson's Demesne,"
or, as it was also called, the Pulteney Settlement, in New York State.
Here they would have been in the position of tenants, under the "patroon"
system then prevailing ii New York. The prospect of owning their own
farms in Canada was more inviting, and, in the face of great
difficulties, they made their way to Markham. There were then no roads
and no stores; supplies had to be procured from the south of the lakes,
some few articles could be got at Niagara, but nearly everything
required in the way of tools, farm implements and provisions had to be
brought from the settlements in New York State. York was then a mere
hamlet. Yonge Street did not exist, though the line had been marked out.
But Berczy, the leader of the expedition, was a man of indomitable
energy and boundless resource. He had, during his residence in the
United States, constructed a wagon road all the way from Philadelphia to
Lake Ontario, and under his direction the immigrants cut their way
through the unbroken forest, and made a wagon track from York to the
southern portion of Markham, which, winding in and out among the trees,
marked the beginning of Yonge Street. Over this primitive road they set
out on the journey from York with their families and household effects.
Their wagons were ingeniously contrived so that they could be used as
boats on an emergency. Made of closely fitting boards with the seams
caulked, the body of the vehicle being removed from the carriage could
be floated across small bodies of water, carrying a considerable load.
Thus they crossed the Don and other streams in their journey. Where the
banks were steep they lowered their wagons down the declivity by ropes
passed round the trunks of saplings, and pulled them up on the opposite
side in a similar .manner. They settled on the banks of the Rouge,
sometimes known as the Nen River, which they at first supposed to be a
tributary of the Don, but on following it to its outlet they discovered
that instead of leading to York it entered the lake nearly twenty miles
to the eastward. This route afforded them easier access to the front
than Yonge Street in its primitive condition, and for many years it was
the one mainly in use.
The first saw and grist
mills in York County were built by William Berczy in the early days of
settlement. They were situated on the River Rouge, on lot No. 4, if# the
3rd concession, and were known as the German Mills. The Gazetteer, in
1799, in referring to the Township of Markham, mentions it as having
"good mills, and a thriving settlement of Germans."
It may be mentioned
here that the two first white children born in the township were John
Stivers and Henry Elson, whose parents came in with Berczy's party.
Berczy became greatly
embarrassed in his circumstances, and was discouraged by the treatment
he met with at the hands of the Government. The pledges under which the
project of settlement was put into execution were not fulfilled as he
had expected, and in 1799 he withdrew from the enterprise, and took up
his residence in Montreal. His losses in connection with the settlement
of Markham were stated at £30,000. Ultimately he returned to the States,
and died in New York in 1813. In the year 1805 the mills were advertised
in the Gazette for sale. They were purchased by Captain Nolan, of the
70th Regiment, which was then stationed in Canada, but his venture was
not successful. In the Gazette of March 19th, 1818, the following
advertisement appears: "Notice—The German Mill and Distillery are now in
operation. Tor the proprietors, Alexander Patterson, Clerk." The mills
were again offered for sale ten years subsequently. The U. E. Loyalist
of April 5th, 1828, contains the following advertisement relating to
them: "For Sale or to be Leased—All or any part of the property known
and described as Nolanville or German Mills, in the 3rd concession of
the Township of Markham, consisting of 400 acres of land; upwards of
fifty under good fences and improvements, with a good dwelling-house,
barn, stable, saw-mill, grist-mill, distillery, brew-house, malt-house,
and several other out-buildings. The above premises will be disposed
of.. either the whole or in part, by application to the subscriber,
William Allan, York, January 26th, 1828. The premises can be viewed at
any time by applying to Mr. John Duggan, residing there." The Mills
formed for long the nucleus of early settlement, the road lying between
this point and Yonge Street being a well-travelled thoroughfare.
Another early pioneer
in the industries of Markham was Nicholas Miller, who built the first
mill on the Humber. In 1794, 'Mr. Milk: settled on lot 33, concession 1,
of Markham, and built a small grist mill on a tributary of the Don.
About the year 1828, Penjamin Fish put up a distillery near the township
line between York and Markham, on the middle branch of the Don. In 1830,
he built a saw-mill at this point and in 1848 a flour mill, which in
1850 he leased to David McDougal. Some years afterwards the flour mill
was burned, but it was subsequently rebunt by Mr. Fish. In i860 he built
a distillery. The property was purchased by John Parsons in 1866. The
distillery business was discontinued, and the flour mill remodelled in
accordance with modern improvements. On lot 26, in the 1st concession,
Rowland Purr built a saw-mill in 1825, which became the property of the
late John Arnold, one of the .pioneers of the township, who lived to the
age of eighty-six. It was burned in 1830, but soon afterwards rebuilt,
and was in operation until 1870. The Pomona Mills, on lot 30, in the 1st
concession, now the Village of Thornhill, occupy the site -which was
first utilized by the erection of a saw-mill, in 1820, by Allan MacNab.
He afterwards added a grist mill, and after some years sold out to
Daniel Brooke, returning to Hamilton to resume his original profession
of the law. He subsequently attained a leading position in public life,
as Sir Allan MacNab. The mills were rented to George Playter for a term
of years. Mr. Playter was well known as the proprietor of a stage line
of four-horse coaches, running between York and Holland Landing. After
passing through several hands the property was acquired by John
Brunskill, who rebuilt the mills on a larger scale, and christened them
the Pomona Mills, He ran the mills for twenty-five years. After his
death they became the property of Mrs. Harris, and were managed by John
Ramsden, who for some time was head miller under Mr. Brunskill.
On the same lot a
carding and fulling mill was built by Rowland Burr, in 1839, and worked
by Benjamin Williams for some years. On the purchase of the property by
Mr. Brunskill, Mr. Williams established the carding mill in a large
frame building, which was afterwards burned. Three breweries have been
in existence in this neighbourhood, but they have all been short-lived.
A distillery was built
on lot 33, on a creek north of Pomona Mills, about 1828, and worked by
William Cruikshank for about fifteen years. On the north half of the
same lot John Lyons built a distillery, in 1810, and ran it for a long
time. To the northward again, on the same creek, Nicholas Miller built
the first flour mill in the township, in the year 1793. It was an
old-fashioned coffee mill, on a very small scale. Further up the stream,
in the year 1856, John Langstaff built a steam saw-mill, shingle
factory, and planing mills, which he worked for about twenty years. In
1866 he put up a factory for the manufacture of pails and other
wooden-ware driven by steam power.
On the most easterly
branch of the Don in the township, in addition to the German Mills, and
further to the south, a saw-mill was erected and run by Mr. Hamell, in
1839, on lot 1, concession 3. It was burned down about ten years later.
A short distance above the German Mills Mr. Bournan built a carding and
fulling mill, in 1832, which, together with the other mills and
factories in the neighbourhood, was abandoned in 1835, on account of the
damage done by a flood.
Among other mills on
this stream were a saw-mill put up on lot 7, concession 2, by Benjamin
Fish, about the year 1825; a carding and fulling mill, built in the same
year by Benjamin Hoshel, on lot 11, in the same concession; a grist
mill, erected by Thomas Shaw in 1848, and burned down almost as soon as
completed; a pail factory, put up by John Arnos, and also consumed, and
a grist mill, erected on the site of the latter, also by John Amos, and
afterwards abandoned when the water-power gave out.
Prominent among the
early settlers of Markham were several of the French emigres who
obtained grants of land in the Oak Ridges region. Those who obtained
patents in this township included Rene Augustin, Cornte de Chalus, Jean
Louis, Vicomte de Chains, the Comte de Puisaye, Ouetton St. George, and
Ambroise de Farcy. The Comte and Vicomte de Chalus derived their titld
from the Castle of Chalus, in Normandy, where Richard Coeur de Lion met
his death. The Vicomte had been a Major-General in the Royal army.
Ambroise de Farcy bore the rank of General. The most notable of these
exiles, however, was the Comte de Puisaye. "This man," remarks
Laniartine, speaking of him in his "History of the Girondists," "was at
once an orator, a diplomatist and a soldier—a character eminently
adapted for civil war, which produces more adventurers than heroes.' And
Thiers, in his "History of the French Revolution," observes of Puisaye
that "with great intelligence and extraordinary skill in uniting the
elements of a party, he confirmed extreme activity of body and mind, and
vast ambition." In 1803 Puisaye, who took a conspicuous part in the
futile loyalist struggle against the convention, published, in London, a
work comprising five octavo volumes of Memoirs in justification of his
course. He died near London, England, in 1821. For a time one of the
settlements in the Oak Ridges bore the name of "Puisaye's town." The
great majority of the emigres were satisfied with a very brief
experience of life in the Canadian backwoods, for which they were not at
all fitted, and returned to Europe; but a few remained, and some of
their descendants are still in the country.
The following is a list
of the early patentees of the township, arranged according to the years
in which they received their titles:—
Nicholas Miller, Thomas Kinnear.
1798—Thomas Lyons, John
1799—James B. Macauley,
John Simcoe Macauley.
1801 -Ira Bentley,
Elizabeth Shiffe, William Johnson, Martin Holder, Samuel Tiphe,
Christian Long, James Weiant, Elijah Bentley, Timothy Street, Henry
Green, Joshua Millar, jun'r, Lieut. Lunout, Jas. McGregor, James Brown,
James Osborne, James Hamilton, Levi Collier, George Boils, Peter DeGeer,
Russell Olmstead, Psaac Westcook, Rachel Graham, Oliver Prentice,
William Jarvis, Ira Beutley.
Hollingshead, Baker Munshaw, Hugh Shaw, Andrew Davidson, John Jumon,
William Bentley, Jonathan Kuscie, Zachariah Gallway, Nancy Eodus, John
Warts, Abraham Gordin, Christian Fred. Krister.
Elizabeth Dennis, Abner Miles, Joshua Sly, John Debrug, Melc.hier Quantz,
John Ulsom Francis Schmidt, John George Schultze, Henry Liedo, Henry
Schell, Frederick Schell, Mark Rumohr, John Gottlieb Wycheer, Jacob
Botger, Peter Stolus, John Cook, Abraham Ortli, Henry Boner, Frederick
Ubrick, Jacob de Long, John Klandennin;;, sen'r, Isaac Davis, Alex.
Legg, John Macbeath, Abraham Gordin.
Oliver Butt, Wm. Smith, John Gray, John Schmeltzer, William Berczy,
Robert Isaac de Gray, Charles II. Vogel, Ann Kohmann, John Boye, William
Weekes, John Bakus, Frederick Hederick, Abraham van Horn, John Haacke,
Peter Millar, Elizabeth Fisher, Anna Margaretha Pingel, John Rumohr,
George Pingel, John Nicholas Stepens, Samuel Nash, Juhn Campbell, Elisha
Dexter, Mar)7 Mclntyre, Colin Drummond, John Hamilton, John Luman.
Thomas Stovel, Powler Arnold, Henry Tebuor, John Arnold, Allhright
Spring, Jacob Millar, John Peter Lindeman, James Harrison, William
Marsh, sen'r, Samuel Mare, William Long, James Far*. John Button, Philip
Weedaman, Joshua Miller, sen'r, John Farr, Andrew Cluhin, Christian
Comte de Chains, Le Chevalier de Marscal, Quetton St. George, John Furon,
Ambroise de Farcy, Daniel Cousins, Nathan Terry, John McGill, Nero
Fierheller, Colin Drummond, John FeightneT, John Williams, Margaret
Michael Franchard, Jean Louis Vicomte de Chalus, Lieut.-Col. Augustine
Bolton, Neil P. Holm, Peter Pinay, Daniel Sulfer, Anna Overhalt, Peter
Anderson, Mary Hollinshead, John Henry Burkinester, Mark Schell, Mary
Gray, Norman Millikeu, John P Pingel, John Edgell.
John Gretman, Nicholas Stover, Peter Ilaldtz, John Wm. Mischultz, Samuel
Bentley, Daniel Merrick, John Philip Eck-hardt, Robert Huisborn, George
Poet, Frederick Kapke, Julian le Pugle.
1809—John Charles Kdler,
Cornelius van Horn, Cornelius Van-ostrand, Philip Beck, William Marr,
Mary Malatt, Christopher Hovell.
1810—John Button, John
Street, Daniel Furon.
Christian Schroder, Jacob Misener, Watson Playter, Andrew Thompson,
Langhurst, James Mustard, Samuel Reynolds.
John Kennedy, Reuben Bentz, Matthias Cline, Jessie Haley, Philip Long.
John Walden Miles, John George Munich, John Stann, John Englehardt
Helmke, Wm. Carpenter, Joseph Moer, Leonard Caster.
James Stimort, WiLam Hoggner, Samuel Whitesides, William B. Caldwell,
Edward McMahon, Henry Keysinger, George Cutler.
1821—Polly Marr, Juhn
1837—John Reesor, jun'r.
W. H. Smith, in his
"Canada, Past, Present, and Future," refers to Markham as "long noted
for the advanced state of its settlement and agriculture." He states
that in 1842 it contained 5,698 inhabitants, and in 1845 there were
eleven grist and twenty-four saw-mills in the township. In 1850 the
population had increased to 6,868, and there were thirteen grist and
twenty-seven saw-mills. The crop of 1849 produced 150,000 bushels of
wheat, 11,000 bushels of barley, 7.000 bushels of rye, 145,000 bushels
of oats, 45,000 bushels of peas, 55,000 bushels of potatoes, 3,000
bushels of turnips, and 3,000 tons of hay. Education was also well
advanced about this period. In 1847 Markham had twenty-seven Common
Schools m operation—a larger number than were to be found in any other
township in the Home District.
The total production of
the principal agricultural staples in 1881 was as follows:—110,050
bushels of wheat, 199,181 bushels of barley, 271,851 bushels of oats,
55,954 bushels of peas and beans, 10,280 bushels of corn, 89,671 bushels
of potatoes, 122,312 bushels of turnips, 118,397 bushels of other root
crops, and 10,589 tons of hay.
The report of the
Ontano Agricultural Commission, issued in 1881, states that 20 per cent,
of the acreage of the township is devoted to wheat growing, 15 per cent,
to barley, 15 per cent, to oats, 8 per cent, to peas, 15 per cent, to
hay, 1 per cent, to turnips, and 2 per cent, each to corn, potatoes and
other root crops, 10 per cent, is in pasture land, and 2 per cent, in
orchard. The average yield of the leading products per acre is as
follows:—Fall wheat, 25 bushels; spring wheat, 15 bushels; barley, 30
bushels; oats, 50 bushels ; peas, 25 bushels ; corn, 40 bushels ;
potatoes, 120 bushels; turnips, 500 bushels; other root crops, 600
bushels, and hay, tons. The varieties of stock most extensively raised
in the township are Clydesdale horses, Durham cattle, Cotswold sheep,
and Berkshire hogs. Imported stock has been largely introduced. The
number m 1881 were— .cattle, 3,665; horses, 2,829; sheep, 4,407, and
The Dominion census for
1871 gave the population as 8,152. In 1881 this had fallen to 6,375, the
decrease being partly due to a diminution in area owing to the
incorporation as separate municipalities of the villages of Markham,
Stouffville and Richmond Hill, the first of which lies entirely and the
two latter partially within the township lines. Of the population of
Markham 1,836 are of German origin, and 2,439 of English extraction. The
native Canadians number 5.197. There are 850 occupiers of land, of whom
567 are also owners. The total area in occupation is 66,475 acres,
56.297 acres being improved ; 46,732 acres are devoted to tillage, 7,800
to pasture and 1,765 to gardens and orchards. About 10 per cent, of the
area of the township is still in timber, principally beech, maple and
basswood, with a few pine in some parts.
The municipal records
of the township show that in 1850 Amos Wright was reeve, and David
Reesor deputy-reeve. The latter became reeve the following year. He was
succeeded in 1852 by George P. Dickson. Henry Miller held the position
during the years 1853-5. R. Reesor became reeve in 1856 and retained the
office for two years. In 1858 W. Button was elected and the next year R.
Reesor again filled the chair. In i860 the reeveship fell to David
Reesor, and George Eakin was appointed township clerk and treasurer, a
placc which he continued to fill until 1874 when he attained his present
position as county clerk. In 1861 W. M. Button was chosen reeve and
continued in office for three years. In 1864-5 John Bowman was elected
to the reeveship, being succeeded in 1866 by W . M. Button. John Bowman
again occupied the c.hair for a year. Then James Robinson held the
position for the period 1868-72. William Eakin became reeve in 1873, and
in 1874 Jarnes Robinson was again elected and retained the position for
another period of several years. The township officials for 1884 are:
David James, Thornhill, reeve; Robert Bruce, Gormley, first
deputy-reeve; F. K. Reesor, Box Grove, second deputy-reeve; A. Forster,
Markham, third deputy-reeve; William Lundy, councillor, and John
Stephenson, Unionville, township clerk and treasurer. Mr. Stephenson was
appointed clerk in 1874, on the resignation of Mr. Eakin.
About a mile and a-half
north of the southern limit of the township on Yonge Street, partly in
Markham and partly in Yaughan, is the Village of Thoinhill. At this
point, a short distance north of the old road to the German Mills,
another of the numerous tributaries of the Don crosses Yonge Street,
flowing between lofty banks. Here mills and manufactories were
established as the country became settled. Thornhill was so named in
honour of Mr. B. Thorne, who arrived here from Dorsetshire, England, in
1820, and built a residence on the bluff overlooking the Don. The earl}'
settlers of Thornhill were principally English. Among the pioneers was
Mr. Parsons, another emigrant from Dorsetshire, who was associated with
Air. Thorne in several business enterprises. An English church was
organized in Thornhill at an early date. One of the first incumbents was
Rev. Isaac Fidler, who attained some celebrity as the author of a book
entitled " Observations on Professions, Literature, Manners, and
Emigration in the United States and Canada." It was a good deal in the
style of Mrs. Trollope, Capt. Basil Hall, and other early British
critics of American democracy. Rev. Geo. Mortimer subsequently occupied
the pastorate. He was a man of earnest spirituality and energetic
temperament ; though not physically strong, his labours for the
advancement of the cause of religion were unremitting. He died suddenly
in the midst of the active duties of his sacred calling. Another
incumbent of this church was Rev. Dominic E. Blake, brother of Mr.
Chancellor Blake, and uncle of Hon. Edward Blake, at present leader of
the Reform party in the Dominion Parliament. Rev. Mr. Blake came to
Canada "n 1832, from the County Mayo, Ireland. Like most of his family
he was a man of unusual menial calibre. His death, which was sudden and
unexpected, took place ill 1859. His successor was Rev. E. H. Dewar,
author of a work published at Oxford, ;n 1844, entitled "German
Protestantism and the Right of Private Judgment in the Interpretation of
Holy Scripture." His thorough acquaintance with the condition of
religious faith in Germany was gained while residing at Hamburg, as
chaplain to the British residents in that city. His death occurred at
Thornhill in 1862. It will be seen that the English congregation of
Thornhill was exceptionally favoured for a village community in the high
intellectual standing of its successive clergymen.
published in the Gazette of May 16th, 1898, shows that at that time
salmon were caught in large numbers in the Don at this point. The
announcement offers for sale by auction a valuable farm, situated on
Yonge Street, about twelve miles from York, and after expatiating on the
richness of the soil and other inducements, adds, "above all it affords
an excellent salmon fishery, large enough to support a number of
families, which must be conceived a great advantage in this infant
country." The present population of Thornhill is upwards of seven
Three or four miles
north of Thornhill, on Yonge Street, is the incorporated village of
Richmond Hill, which is partly in the township limits. It will form the
subject of a separate notice. A short distance to the north of Richmond
Hill in Markham was the residence of Colonel Moodie, who was shot at
Montgomery's tavern in the troubles of 1837. Colonel Moodie was a
retired officer of the regular army, having been Lieut.-Colonel of the
104th regiment, and having seen service in the Peninsular war and the
struggle with the United States in 1812-13.
The Toronto and
Nipissing Railway enters the township from the south in the fifth
concession, and proceeds in a northerly direction to Unionville, then
making a considerable easterly detour to the village of Markham, and
from that point it runs north-easterly to Stouffville, in the north-east
angle of the township. The latter village is partly embraced within the
limits of Whitchurch, and, with Markham Village, will be dealt with
Unionville is the place
of meeting of the Township Council, and is pleasantly and picturesquely
situated about two miles and a half west of Markham village, on the
River Rouge. The population numbers about three hundred. Smith's
"Canada," published in 1851, states that it then contained "about two
hundred inhabitants, a grist mill with three run of stones and a saw
mill, with two churches, Congregational and Wesleyan Methodist." It is a
thriving and prosperous community.
Buttonvide is about two
and a-half miles west of Unionville. It was named after Major John
Button, who came to Canada in 1799, and after a residence of two years
at Niagara settled in Markham. He raised and commanded a troop of
cavalry, known as the "York Light Dragoons," which did good service in
1812. His sons, William and Francis, were members of the body, the
former being lieutenant. In 1837, the family were again to the front,
John Button as major and Francis as captain. Col. W. M. Button, at one
time reeve of the township, is the son of the latter.
unincorporated villages of the township include Gormley's Corners,
Almira, Victoria Square, Hcadford, Cashel, Milnesville and Mongolia, in
the northern portion, and Dollar, Brown's Corners, Hagerman's Corners,
Milliken, Box Grove, Cedar Grove and Belford, to the south.