Monday, January 29, 2007

G.T.R. Station, Markham, Ont., Canada

In 1871, the Toronto & Nipissing Railway came to Markham. The Grand Trunk Railway took over the railway in 1893, and became part of CNR in 1918.

High School, Markham

The brick two-storey school in this postcard view was built in 1892, as an addition to an older 1879 school building, which became a science lab.

Secondary school education beyond grade 8 (or the "upper fourth" as it was then known) began in 1857, when the Markham Grammar School opened on a site between Franklin and George Streets north of Church Street. In the 1860s, the school moved to the site at the corner of Joseph and Albert Streets.
Girls were not admitted to the school until 1868.
In 1871, the railway came through Markham Village, making high school-level education accessible for young people in other villages. The school became Markham High School, and students came in by train daily from places like Stouffville, Unionville and Agincourt. However, travel on local roads was still so slow that students from remoter hamlets and farms often boarded in the village during the week, going home only on weekends.

After World War II, rapid population growth led to the opening of the new and modern Markham District High School on Church Street in 1954. The old school building became the Markham Union Masonic Lodge.

Main Street, Mount Joy, Ontario

Agriculture Building, Markham, Ontario, Canada

1916: The new Agricultural Hall (Rink) was built at the north end of the Markham Fair grounds.
In March of 1916, a big fire had burned down several buildings on the fairgrounds - the rink, the “Palace” agricultural hall and the ticket office. The Economist & Sun reported:

Quite a heavy fall of snow had fallen during the night and the fire brigade had some difficulty in getting reels through the snow, but in 15 minutes had two streams playing on the blazing buildings. A thirty mile gale was blowing, and in less than an hour the rink and hall were burned to the ground.”

Rectory and Grace Anglican Church

The Church Rectory was built in 1889 beside Grace Anglican Church on Lot 11, Con. 7.

Grace Anglican Church

Grace Church was built in 1848 on Lot 11, Concession 7. When Highway 7 was constructed to eliminate the jog at the 8th Line (Main Street), the Church was moved to the north side of the Highway. In 1963, when Highway 7 was widened, the Church was deconsecrated and demolished.

Methodist Church, Markham, Ont.

Built in 1862 as a Wesleyan Methodist Church. When the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches united in 1926, this building became St. Andrew's United Church (32 Main Street). A later vestibule addition now covers the eastern front seen here.

Presbyterian Church, Markham, Ont.

In 1873, the brick Presbyterian Church was built on Washington Street. In 1926, the congregation moved to the new St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Main Street.
Note the drive shed to the north of the Church.
Later became the Veterans' Hall.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Postcard Collections

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, collecting picture postcards was a popular hobby. Postcards showing views of towns and cities were a way for travellers to share their experiences with friends and family back home, and huge numbers of postcards were produced for this market.

A hundred years later, postcards provide us with a fascinating glimpse of the way the world used to be. Markham Village, with its tradition of stewardship of its built heritage, is unusual in that many of these postcard scenes are still recognizable to 21st century eyes. The streets are paved now and filled with motor vehicle traffic, but many of the streetscapes shown in the postcards are still with us.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Braeside was the home of the Milne family, located on lot 9, Concession 7, at the east end of Milne Pond.
The home on the hill was built by Peter Milne in 1835. In the left foreground a bridge runs across the mill pond on top of the dam, leading to the wooden grist mill on the right.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Vinegar Hill, Markham

The large white building on the hill was St. Patrick's Church, dedicated in 1855 and torn down in 1977 after the new St. Patrick's was built on Highway 7 in 1971.

Valley of the Rouge, Markham

Old Bridge (replaced in 1909) at centre left.

Speight Wagon Works, Markham

The Speight Wagon Factory was located immediately south of what is now St. Andrew's United Church.

Speight Wagon Factory, Markham, Ont., Canada

The Speight Wagon Factory was one of the largest wagon manufacturers in Ontario. It also produced sleighs, cutters, threshing machines, and horse-drawn streetcars. The Factory, as seen from this rear view looking eastwards toward Main Street, consisted of many buildings and sheds, of brick and frame. Established in 1830, the Factory went out of business in 1917. In 1922, many of the buildings were destroyed by fire. The Factory chimney is equalled in height by, on the left by the tower of what is now St. Andrew's United Church at 32 Main Street, and on the right by the spire of the Presbyterian Church on Washington Street (later the Vets' Hall).

Speight Wagon Works, Markham, Ont.

What appears to be an office building for the Speight Wagon Works. C. 1908, on the east side of Main Street, at approximately what is now 20 Main Street North.

Old Iron Bridge, Markham, Ont., Canada

In 1909, the bridge over the Rouge River at the south end of the village was replaced. (Markham Remembered 164)

Milne's Sundial

Main Street, Mount Joy, Markham

Main Street, Markham

West Side of Main Street Looking Southward

In this view of the block that runs from 106 to 128 Main Street, on the west side north of Robinson, the piecemeal nature of Main Street development is evident, with a modest gable-fronted storefront at the centre of the picture being hemmed in by larger brick structures.

Main Street Looking North from Franklin House Hotel

A view of a busy Main Street looking northward from the Franklin House Hotel on the left.
Several people stand on the sidewalk and street in front of the Hotel, and more are watching from the Hotel's balcony. A couple of horse-drawn buggies move northward.

Main Street Looking South

A tranquil tree-lined Main Street looking south along the west side of the Street.

At the far end of the sidewalk, we can see the Second Empire rooflines of the rowhouses built by the Speight Wagon Company in 1895 to house the Company's employees. The white house in the centre of the photograph is the Wedding Cake House at 48 Main Street North, built in c. 1870, and well-known for its elaborate gingerbread. To its right is the circular corner tower of the Queen Anne Revival style house built at 54 Main in 1910 by Ernest Crosby.

View Looking North

Looking north on an unpaved Main Street, with one car driving down the middle of the street, and a couple of pedestrians on what appears to be recently poured sidewalks.

In the left foreground is the Franklin House Hotel, on the southwest corner of Main and Robinson - now a parking lot.

On the right side of the street, the building with the awning was a general store operated by the Reive family. Just beyond is the Post Office building which opened in 1910 at the corner of Joseph and Main. It was demolished in 1978 to make way for the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Entrance to Fairgrounds

Until 1976, the annual Markham Fair took place on its 30-acre grounds located at the southeast corner of Highway 48 (Main Street) and Highway 7. In this turn-of-the-20th-century postcard view, the 1894 Agricultural Hall known as the “Crystal Palace” is in the centre of the picture, facing north onto a two-lane dirt road (now Highway 7), with picket fences and smaller structures beside the gated entrance to the grounds. The hall was two storeys high , with the lower level used for exhibits of vegetables and fruit, and the upper level for ladies’ exhibits. The adjoining rink was used for exhibits during the Fair, and during winter was the centre of hockey and curling in Markham. Both the Crystal Palace and the rink burned to the ground on March 10, 1916.

For much of its first two centuries, Markham Township was known as one of Canada’s best agricultural areas, and much of its early prosperity was based on farming. Markham’s annual Fall Fair grew out of that prosperity, the creation of a proud and forward-thinking farming community. By the late 19th century, Markham Fair had become one of the largest fall fairs in the country.

The Fair site is now occupied by the Markham Village Library and the Markham Arena.

Heritage Week 2007

For Ontario Heritage Week - February 19 to 25, 2007 - Markham Public Libraries presents images of postcards of Markham Village around the turn of the century. These postcard images have been preserved through Lunauweb, the Libraries' database of local heritage documents.