Here are the more popular York Region heritage attractions (not including museums):
11 Joseph Street 153, Markham
Originally built as an 1890 brick livery stable, it became the meeting hall of the Markham District Veterans. In the 1950’s, they moved their meetings to the old St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Jermain Street, where they are today. The building was sold to the Economist and Sun newspaper in the early 1950’s, where they remained until the early 1970’s.
Aurora United Church
15186 Yonge Street, Aurora, L4G 1L9
The 1878 Gothic Revival style church was built and designed by Toronto architect Henry Langley. It replaced a little log church built in 1850. The church was hit by a severe cyclone in 1893, which damaged the steeples, and the original tall steeple was replaced with a shorter one. Following 1943 lightning storm damage, the tall spires were removed. Regular Sunday worship services are scheduled and everyone is welcome to attend.
Black Creek Pioneer Village
1000 Murray Ross Pkwy, North York, ON M3N 1S4
Jane & Steeles W (watch for signs from Highways 400, 401 and 407)
This takes you back to rural Ontario community in 1867, when Canada was formed. See farms, a blacksmith shop, a one-room school house, and 40 restored heritage homes, shops and gardens, staffed with costumed interpreters and artisans. Open year-round, Vary by season, see website for details. Admission (GST included: Adults (15-59)-$12, Children (5-14)-$8, Seniors (60+) and Students (15+ with I.D.)-$11,)
Blue Willow Garden & Butterfly Conservatory
905-722-5849 Fax: 905-722-3157 1-800-598-0041
23834 Highway 48, Baldwin, L0E 1A0
Beautiful indoor and outdoor gardens, with a butterfly conservatory, where you can observe the magic of caterpillars turning into butterflies. See native and tropical butterflies close up. Garden Centre open Apr. 1st-Oct. 31st. Butterfly Conservatory open June 1st-Sept. 30th. Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.
Community of Dickson Hill
Highway # 48 and 19th Avenue, Whitchurch Stouffville
John Dickson, a Millwright and mill owner, established a grist mill in1843, with the mill pond located near the SE corner of Highway 48 and 19th Avenue on this tributary of the Rouge River, now called Dickson Hill Creek. The community developed around the creek and the mill.
54 Cricklewood Cres, Thornhill
Built in 1803 on a Crown grant to John Dennis from King George III, and the first cottage was built by his daughter Elizabeth who later married Matthias Sanders. In 1844, Englishman John Brunskill bought the property which then included several mills along John St., and made a substantial addition to the Dennis home. After he died 1870, the lands were divided, and part became the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto (founded by golf champion Ada Mackenzie in 1924) and the home, first called ‘Brooklands’ was renamed ‘Cricklewood’ in 1956, and became part of a 1970s townhome development. In 1980, the home with five bedrooms, six fireplaces, 11-foot ceilings, and a couple of ghosts was designated a heritage property.
Ebenezer United Church
5000 Steeles Avenue East, Milliken Mills (Markham) L3R 7B4
In the 1840’s, Primitive Methodist circuit-riding Ministers preached to settlers around in Milliken’s Corners (named for the local farming Milliken family). By 1852, the first frame church was built, on the Thomas Harding farm, now the southeast corner of Brimley and Steeles. The congregation flourished and in 1878 a new church was built on land donated by the Harding family. In 1925, Ebenezer became part of the newly formed United Church of Canada. With the urban expansion around Toronto, in the 1980s a large expansion (the present sanctuary) was added to the church.
120 Robinson Street, Markham
This foundry cast the bell which hung in the Steeple of the Grace Anglican Church, when it was on Wellington Street. A new bell tower was constructed in front of the current church– on Parkway Avenue–now houses the bell.
135 Baythorn Dr, Thornhill
(at Royal Orchard Blvd)
This handsome property lies on land settled in the early 1800s by Loyalist Anthony Hollingshead. Col. George William Cruickshank, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, and the area’s first justice of the peace, he built a 13-room mansion in 1816 around the original two-room farm house. From 1854 until the 1970s, the “Sunnyside Manor” was owned by a number of families. Charles Heintzman of the Toronto piano company, bought the property about 1930 and added the art deco interior. Now owned by the Town of Markham, the home has a grand ballroom, solarium, meeting rooms and landscaped grounds, and there are stories about a ghost. It can be rented out for social and public occasions, but is not open to the public. In May 2000 this building was officially recognized by the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, and is the scene of Hollingshead family reunions.
15372 Yonge Street, Aurora, L4G 1N8
The 1862 Hillary House is a National Historic Site and contains the furnishings and belongings of the family that lived in the house from 1876 are preserved in the house. They are open for visiting Wed to Sun, 1pm to 5pm.
Historic Newmarket Downtown District
The town of Newmarket boasts a unique history dating back to a Quaker settlement from the early 19th century. Visitors can stroll around the area and learn about the town’s heritage through a number of street plaques. Highlights of the district include Fairy Lake and the Old Town Hall, which was built in 1883.
First settled in 1829, the hamlet of Thornhill began as plank cabins in forest clearings, frame buildings, snake fences and a few brick houses. Thorne lived on a hill that overlooked the great mills, the source of community trade & wealth, until he died in 1845. There are still some surviving properties along Yonge Street from the ‘original’ village including the 1834 Mortimer House ( the first Pastor of Holy Trinity Church),
Soules Inn (stagecoach depot since 1830, later a Temperance Inn), Langstaff School, the fourth on this site since 1811. Other ‘survivors’ nearby are Cricklewood, Sunnyside Manor, Holy Trinity Church, and the Methodist Church on Centre Street.
Historic Tour of Markham
Presented by The Town Crier of Markham Inc
28 Parkway Avenue, Markham, L3P 2G1
(905) 472-3122 Toll-free: 1-888- 478-3122 Fax: (905) 472-4580
Tour includes Box Grove, Cedar Grove, Cemeteries, Churches, Heritage Bld., Heritage Bldg, Heritage Estates, Historic People, Main Street, Markham Heritage District, Museum, Peter Street, Rivers and Streams, Schools, Street Names, Thornhill, Unionville, Veteran, Wilson Street,
Holy Trinity Cemetery
140 Brooke Street Thornhill, ON L4J 1Y9
(Yonge St. near Royal Orchard Blvd, Thornhill)
This cemetery, dating back to 1830, is worth a visit. The oldest tombstone (Rebecca Thixton Willson) dates to 1804, buried elsewhere, but moved to be buried next to her husband when he died in 1829. Col. Moodie, the first victim of the 1837 Rebellion, is buried here. There are also monuments to Benjamin Thorne, the village founder, and many other prominent Thornhill families are buried here. This was the cemetery for (Holy) Trinity Church, which has since moved to nearby 140 Brooke Street (north of Centre Street, west of Yonge Street, Thornhill)
Markham Heritage Estates
Heritage Corners Lane at 16th Avenue
Heritage Estates is a sanctuary of last resort for threatened historic Markham houses, and is unique in North America. The neighbourhood includes 26 lovingly restored private heritage homes, including a number of homes built by the Berczy Settlers, and some of the Pennsylvania German Settlers attracted to Markham by earlier German settlement.
9350 Highway 48 Hwy, Markham, L3P 3J3
(Just north of 16th Avenue)
905-294-4576 Fax: 905-294-4590
Markham Museum has exhibits about history, the environment and science, with focus on history, environment and agricultural technologies. There is a wetland area, working gardens and an orchard. Visit historic homes, the blacksmith shop, Markham’s oldest Baptist church, and the H. Wilson Variety Hall. There’s also a historical railway car, and horse-drawn vehicles. Special events include March Break Extravaganza, Haunted Museum, and Applefest. Open year-round, daily noon to 5 pm, and Thu-Sat till 8 pm. Tours Daily (except Mondays) at 1 pm and 3 pm. Admission $$. Children 24 months and under free. All fees plus G.S.T.
Markham Train Station
214 Main Street Markham North
By 1871, the Markham Village Train Station was built by the Toronto and Nipissing Railway Company, which was the first publicly operated narrow gauge railway in North America. The railway’s arrival grew commerce and industry in the surrounding community. 1885, it had become part of the Grand Trunk Railway system. By the early 1990’s the owner, CN Rail was looking to rid of the Markham Station, and in 2000, the Station was restored to its 1910 appearance and serves as a GO Transit Station, with meeting rooms and rental facility. Wheelchair accessible
96 Main Street North, Markham
The Roxy Theatre is situated in the Old Town Hall. The Upstairs was used as the Rehearsal Hall for Markham Little Theatre.
The Hamlet of Box Grove
9th Line and 14th Avenue
Originally called Sparta, but village changed its name it got a post office in 1867, the year of Confederation. Sometimes referred to as “Sparty Wharf”, at the head of navigation of the Rouge River, the village had a sawmill, a woolen mill, and a shoddy mill (making woollen cloth from fibres produced by grinding/recycling woolen rags) owned by the Tomlinson family, which purchased land here in 1815. They had subdivided the Village into lots 100 and 250 feet wide by 250 feet deep. Box Grove grew into working man’s village with three taverns. Gradually, as the mills declined, Box Grove diminished in importance, and by the turn of the last century, the last hotel/tavern closed, and burned down in 1910.
Thornhill Village Library
10 Colborne St., Thornhill, L3T 1Z6
This 1851 house was built Mrs. Ellen Ramsden (nee Frizzell) and was used as a grocery store, and a veterinary office, with the rear used as a stable. Since 1959, it has been the home of the Village Library (which had various locations since the first Book Society in 1829), and is now a designated Heritage Building and appropriately renovated. This is a unique example of a modest domestic building of the Classical Revival style, with a late Victorian garden, and a ghost or two.
Trinity Anglican Church
79 Victoria Street Aurora ON CAN L4G 1R3
The original 1834 church building is now used as the chapel, and is Aurora’s prime example of Gothic Revival architecture. The adjacent modern church buildings were constructed in 2000, and hosts the congregation’s regular worshiping services.
27 Mosley Street Aurora, L4G 1M1
Victoria Hall was originally built as a “Disciples of Christ” church in 1883. It housed the Aurora Library from 1945 to 1963, when Aurora built a new library to celebrate the town’s centennial. Public bookings for the hall are available.