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Markham ( Mark-Am) is a town in the Regional Municipality of Yorkmarker, located in the Greater Toronto Area of Southern Ontario, Canadamarker. Markham is the largest town in Canada, and one of its fastest growing municipalities, having doubled its population since 1990. The population of Markham according to the Canada 2006 Census is 261,573. Within the Greater Toronto Area, Markham is the fourth-most populous municipality after Torontomarker, Mississaugamarker, and Bramptonmarker. Markham is home to many high-tech companies, and is also home to the Canadian head offices of various high-tech companies such as IBM, Motorola, Toshiba, Lucent, Sun Microsystems, Applemarker, AMEX and ATImarker, which is now part of AMDmarker.


Markham was first surveyed as a township in 1793 by William Berczy, who in 1794 led 75 German families from Upstate New York to an area of Markham now known as German Mills. Each family was granted 200 acres (0.8 km²) of land, however due to hardships, many opted to return to Yorkmarker (now Torontomarker) and Niagara. The area was remote and the lack of roads through the region made travel difficult. German Mills soon became a ghost town. Between 1803 to 1812, another attempt at settling in the region was made. The largest group of settlers were Pennsylvaniamarker 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. By 1830, many Irish, Scottish and English families immigrated to Upper Canada, many settling in Markham.

Markham's early years blended the rigours of homesteading with the development of agriculture-based industries. The many rivers and streams in the Township soon supported water-powered saw and gristmills and later wooden mills. With improved transportation routes, such as the construction of Yonge Street in the 1800s, along with 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. In 1871, the Toronto and Nipissing Railway company built the first rail line to Markham, which is still used today by the GO Train commuter services. The first form of structured municipal government occurred in 1850 when the Township of Markham was created.

When Markham was incorporated as a town in 1972, its population quickly grew due to urban sprawl from the Greater Toronto Area. In 1976, Markham's population was approximately 56,000. Since that time, the population has more than quintupled with explosive growth in new subdivisions. Much of Markham's farmland has now disappeared, but is still found north of Major MacKenzie Drive. Controversy over the development of the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine will likely curb development north of Major MacKenzie Drive.

At present, Markham comprises six major communities, which include Buttonville, Cornell, Markham Village, Milliken, Thornhill, and Unionville. Since the 1980s, the town has been recognized as a suburb of Toronto. Many high-tech companies have head offices located in Markham for the relative abundance of land, low tax rates and good transportation routes. ATI Technologies (now known as AMD), IBM Canada, Apple Computer Canada, Motorola Canada and many other well-known companies have chosen Markham as their home in Canada. Hence, the town has been branding itself as Canada's "High-Tech Capital".

An Ontario Historical Plaque was erected in front of the Markham Museummarker by the province to commemorate the founding of Markham's role in Ontario's heritage.


Markham covers an area of 212.47 square kilometres and Markham's Town Centre is at . It is bounded by 5 municipalities:

  • South
    • Torontomarker - boundary along Steeles Avenue

  • North
    • Whitchurch-Stouffvillemarker - boundary is from Highway 404 to York-Durham line somewhere between 19th Avenue and Stouffville Road

  • East


Markham's average altitude is at 200 metres and in general consists of genty rolling hills. The town is intersected by two rivers; the Don River and Rouge River, as well as their tributaries. To the north is the Oak Ridges Moraine, which further elevates the elevation towards the north.


Due to Markham's proximity to Toronto, Markham shares the same climate as Toronto. On an average day, Markham is generally one to two degrees celsius cooler than in downtown Toronto.


Markham demographics as of the 2006 Census.


Markham has experienced tremendous growth since the 1980s. The Canadian census of 2006 states that the population of Markham was 261,573, which is a 25.4% increase from the 2001 census.


Markham is home to many religions. According to the Canadian census of 2006 it states:

Religion Percentage
Catholic 25.5%
No Religious Affiliation 23.1%
Protestant 20.6%
Hindu 5.7%
Muslim 5.3%
Jewish 5.3%
Christian Orthodox 4.9%
Other Christian 4.3%
Buddhist 3.4%
Other Religions 0.1%


Markham is home to many immigrants, mainly from East Asia, South Asia, and Europe. The Canadian census of 2006 states 42.6% of the population were Canadian-born population whereas 56.6% were foreign-born. 0.9% are non-residents. [26870] According to the 2001 census, the largest ethnic groups (including single and multiple response) in Markham were;

Ethnic Origin[26871] Population
Chinese 63,890
Canadian 29,385
English 27,110
East Indian 19,415
Scottish 16,805
Irish 15,055
Italian 11,830
Jewish 10,105
German 7,780
French 6,345
Greek 5,970
Jamaican 5,610
Filipino 5,560
Polish 3,990
Sri Lankan 3,115
Macedonian 2,715
Portuguese 2,480
Iranian 2,470
Ukrainian 2,435
Tamil 2,415


Markham Civic Centre

Town Council

The Markham Town Council consists of the Frank Scarpitti as mayor, four regional councillors and eight ward councillors representing one of the town's eight wards. Frank Scarpitti replaced the now retired Donald Cousens, who was a former PC MPP for Markham and Presbyterian church minister. 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 are elected by the municipality's voters. Councillors 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. The current members of council were elected by the residents to a four-year term of office, in accordance with standards set by the province. 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 Civic Centre

The town council is located at the Markham Civic Centremarker at York Regional Road 7 and Warden Avenue. The previous offices on Woodbine Avenue have disappeared where now a funeral home operates. The historic town hall on Main Street is now a restored office building. The Mayor's Youth Task Force was created to discuss issues facing young people in the town and to plan and publicize events. Its primary purpose is to encourage youth participation within the community.


The town is permitted to create and enforce by-laws upon residents on various matters affecting the town. The by-laws are generally enforced by Town By-Law enforcement officers, but they may involve York Regional Police if violations are deemed too dangerous for the officers to handle. In addition the by-laws can be linked to various provincial acts and enforced by the town. Violation of by-laws is subject to fines of up to $20,000 CAD. The by-laws of Markham include:

  • Animal Control (see Dog Owners' Liability Act of Ontario)
  • Construction Permits
  • Driveway Extensions
  • Fencing and Swimming Pools
  • Heritage Conservation (see Ontario Heritage Act)
  • Home-Based Businesses
  • Noise
  • Parking
  • Property Standards
  • Registration of Basement Apartments and Second Suites
  • Sewers
  • Site Alteration
  • Waste Collection
  • Water Use

Town Services


There are no courts in Markham, but the town is served by an Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarketmarker, as well as an Ontario Small Claims court in Richmond Hill, Ontariomarker. The Ontario Court of Appeal is located in Toronto, while the Supreme Court of Canada is located in Ottawa. Policing is provided by York Regional Police at a station (5 District) at the corner of McCowan Road and Carlton Road and Highway 7. Highway 404, Highway 407 and parts of Highway 48 are patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police.


Markham Fire and Emergency Services was established in 1970 as Markham Fire Department and replaced various local volunteer fire units. There are 7 fire stations currently serving Markham. Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airportmarker is also served by Markham's Fire service.


The main healthcare facility in the town is Markham Stouffville Hospitalmarker, located in the far eastern end. Markham is also home to Shouldice Hospitalmarker, one of the world's premier facilities for people suffering from hernias.

Neighbourhoods and Communities

Toogood Pond
Markham is made up of many original 19th century communities (many of which, despite being technically suburban districts today, are still signed with official 'entering community' signs on major roads) each with a distinctive character:

Thornhill and Unionville are popularly seen as being separate communities. Thornhill actually straddles the Markham-Vaughan town line (portions of it in both municipalities).


High Schools

Markham has a number of both public and catholic high schools. All have consistent high scores on standardized exams and have some of the highest rate of graduates attending universities.


Seneca College's Markham Campus
Markham currently does not have any universities itself, but Seneca Collegemarker has campuses at Highways 7 and 404 and at Buttonville Airport. Most high school graduates continue to post-secondary education in universities across Ontario. There are local transit services that connect to York Universitymarker, Ryerson Universitymarker, University of Ontario Institute of Technologymarker and the University of Torontomarker, as well as to Toronto campuses of Seneca College, Centennial Collegemarker, George Brown Collegemarker, Humber Collegemarker, The Michener Institutemarker, Durham Collegemarker and Sheridan Collegemarker.


In the 19th century, Markham was a vibrant, independent community with distilleries and breweries around the Highway 7 and 48 intersection. The Speight Wagon Works exported products around the world, and it was said that Markham was more active than York (former name for Toronto) was early on.

Today, it claims to be "Canada's Hi-Tech Capital" with a number of key companies in the area, such as IBM, Motorola, Toshiba, Lucent, Sun Microsystems, Honeywell, Apple Inc.marker, Genesis Microchip, and is home to the head office of graphics card producer ATImarker (recently merged with AMDmarker).

Markham also maintains economic and cultural cooperation agreements with the city of Laval, Quebecmarker, which is the second largest city of the Greater Montreal Area and has a very high financial profile.


Circular pathway along Berczy Park.


Until the 1970s, Markham was mostly farmland and marsh, which is still reflected in events like the Markham Fair. Markham has several theatres, including the critically acclaimed Markham Little Theatre. and the Markham Youth Theatre.

The Markham Public Library system has 6 branches, with over 600,000 items in its collections.


Town issues

Like most cities and towns in the Greater Toronto Area, Markham has a few issues it must deal with:

Urban growth

There is a desire by the Town to control urban sprawl by requesting higher density for new development. The town plan calls for more growth along Highway 7 and less towards the farmland to the north. A similar development in Cornell promotes the need for services to be closer to residences.

Transit plan

Linked to the concern of urban growth, Markham through York Region Transit (YRT) has implemented a transit system called Viva to ease the strain on the region's congested roads. Viva is similar to YRT but is used as an express bus service with the ability to change traffic signals to help reduce delays. The YRT is also planning to build a transit terminal somewhere near Cornell soon.


Markham has retained its historic past in part of the town. Here a just few places of interest:

Heritage streets preserve the old town feeling:

There are still farms operating in the northern reaches of the town, but there are a few 'theme' farms in other parts of Markham:
  • Devonshire Stables & Country Bumpkins Pony Farm
  • Galten Farms
  • Whittamore's Farm
  • Forsythe Family Farms
  • Adventure Valley

Performing arts

Markham Theatre For Performing Arts
Markham is home to several locally-oriented performing arts groups:
  • Markham Little Theatre
  • Markham Youth Theatre
  • Unionville Theatre Company
  • Markham Concert Band
  • York Symphony Orchestra

A key arts venue is the 'Markham Theatre For Performing Arts', at the Markham Civic Centre located at Highway 7 and Warden Avenue.

Annual events

Events taking place annually include the Markham Youth Festival, Unionville Festival, Markham Village Music Festival, Markham Jazz Festival, Milliken Mills Children's Festival, Thornhill Village Festival, Markham Fair, Markham Festival of Lights, Markham Santa Claus Parade, Olde Tyme Christmas Unionville, Markham Ribfest & Music Festival, Cornell Garden Festival and the Cornell Easter Egg Hunt.


The Pacific Mall is the largest Asian mall in North America and some of the most expensive retail space in Canada.
Markham is home to several large malls of 100+ stores. These include:

There are also a lot of higher-profile malls in nearby Toronto, and elsewhere in York Region. Many shopping centres in Markham are also Asian-oriented. This is a reflection of the large Asian, particularly Chinese Canadian, population found in Markham. They carry a wide variety of traditional Chinese products, apparel, and foods.

On Highway 7, between Woodbine and Warden Avenues, is First Markham Place, containing numerous shops and restaurants; this is several kilometres east of Richmond Hill's Chinese malls. Further east along Highway 7 is an older plaza is at the southwest quadrant with the intersection with Kennedy Road.

Pacific Mall is the most well-known Chinese mall in Markham, located at Kennedy Road and Steeles Avenue East, which, combined with neighbouring Market Village Mallmarker and Splendid China Towermarker, forms the second largest Chinese shopping area in North America, after the Golden Village in Richmond, British Columbiamarker. In close proximity, at Steeles East and Warden Avenue, there is the New Century Plaza mall and a half-block away there is a plaza of Chinese shops anchored by a T & T Supermarket.

There are also some smaller shopping centres in Markham, such as:
  • Metro Square
  • Peachtree Centre
  • New Kennedy Square
  • The Shops on Steeles and 404
  • Thornhill Square

Local media

  • Markham Economist and Sun - local paper owned by Metroland Publishing
  • The Liberal - serving Thornhill and Richmond Hill
  • The York Region Business Times - business news
  • York Region Media Group - Online news
  • North of the City - magazine for York Region
  • Rogers Cable 10 - local community TV station for York Region, owned by Rogers Media
  • The Cornell Crier - local news and lifestyle



Major highways passing through Markham include Highway 404 (from Toronto to Newmarketmarker) and Highway 407, a toll highway that passes north of Toronto and connects Markham with Vaughanmarker, Bramptonmarker and Burlingtonmarker.

Highway 407 runs parallel to Highway 7, also known as York Road 7, which is a major east-west artery suffering from congestion due to development along its route. Other major east-west routes include 16th Avenue, Major MacKenzie Drive, and Steeles Avenue which forms Markham's southern boundary with Toronto.


Public Transit

York Region Transit (YRT) connects Markham with surrounding municipalities in York Region, and was created in 2001 from the merger of Markham Transit, Richmond Hill Transit, Newmarket Transit and Vaughan Transit. YRT to connects to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway system by way of Viva Bus Rapid Transit from Finch station along Yonge Street, and Don Mills station through Unionville and on to Markville Mall.

The TTC also provides service in Markham on several north-south routes, such as Don Mills Road, Warden Avenue, Birchmount Road, McCowan Road and Markham Road. These routes charge riders a double fare if they are travelling across the Steeles border and most Markham residents choose to travel by car instead of public transportation.

GO Transit provides train service on the old trackbed of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway, which connects Markham with downtown Torontomarker on the Stouffville commuter rail service. The line has stops at several stations in Markham, namely Unionville GO Stationmarker, Centennial GO Stationmarker, Markham GO Stationmarker, and Mount Joy GO Stationmarker. The Richmond Hill commuter rail line provides service to the Langstaff GO Stationmarker, which straddles Markham and Richmond Hill but is used primarily by residents of west-central Markham and southern Richmond Hill.


Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airportmarker is one of Canada's top ten airports, which caters to general aviation and business commuter traffic to Ottawamarker and Montrealmarker. Operators at Buttonville include:

Buttonville Airport is slated to close by 2016.

Notable people from Markham




Sister cities

References and footnotes

  1. Ontario Plaque
  2. 2006 Community Profiles
  3. LCE Aviation
  4. Toronto Airways Limited
  5. Buttonville Flying Club
  6. Leggat Aviation
  7. Sister Cities International

External links

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