Vaughan is located immediately North of Toronto, in the Region of York. It sits between Brampton and Richmond Hill, south of King City and Aurora.
Vaughan is well known for its slogan “The City Above Toronto”. Indeed its southern border Steeles Avenue, is also the north boundary for the City of Toronto. Very competitive commercial and industrial tax rates, and excellent transportation corridors, have helped Vaughan attract a large manufacturing and industrial base. This has created jobs which in turn has helped attract many new residents to this city.
Vaughan is the only municipality in York Region that has City status. Vaughan has a population of approximately 297,000 residents and growing. The four main population centres in Vaughan are:Kleinburg, Maple, Thornhill and Woodbridge. Tourists and visitors from across the Greater Toronto Area, come to Vaughan, to view the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, for the shopping at Vaughan Mills or to spend the day at Paramount Canada’s Wonderland.
Vaughan’s historic villages have their own distinct look and feel when it comes to housing. Downtown Woodbridge along Woodbridge Avenue, west of Islington Avenue, features a nice mix of heritage properties, as well as newer townhomes and detached houses that have been well designed to fit into this historic community. There are even a few low-rise condominium apartment buildings in the downtown core. On the outskirts of downtown Woodbridge you will find numerous new home subdivisions featuring mostly detached and semi-detached homes.
The Village of Maple, is located north of Rutherford Road and east of Highway 400. Maple’s downtown core has a nice selection of heritage homes. The rural Maple countryside is being transformed into subdivisions of detached and semi-detached homes. Kleinburg’s downtown heritage district features a small number of heritage homes, mixed in with a variety of ranch-style bungalows and infill housing developments. Kleinburg also features a handful of low density new home subdivisions that overlook conservation lands.
Thornhill has the highest density of housing in the City of Vaughan. The older housing stock here closer to Sreeles Avenue consists of modest detached and semi-detached starter homes, as well as townhouses and condominiums. The hugely popular Thornhill Woods new home subdivision is located further north along Bathurst Street. Old Thornhill Village (located at Yonge and Centre Streets) features many heritage homes that are surrounded by contemporary estate homes that are situated on exceptionally large lots in a nicely treed setting.
Vaughan was first settled in the early 1800s, by Pennsylvania Germans who were soon followed by an influx of settlers from the British Isles. Vaughan originally consisted of a collection of rural hamlets and small villages. One of these hamlets was called Vaughanville. This former hamlet and the present day City of Vaughan were named in honour of British diplomat Benjamin Vaughan, who was a co-negotiator of the Peace of Paris treaty that signalled the end of the American Revolutionary war.
The most prominent of Vaughan’s early communities are the historic villages of Kleinburg, Maple, Thornhill, and Woodbridge, which to this day are the largest population centres in Vaughan. Pioneer life in Vaughan was not easy and consequently the community did not attract many new families until after World War ll when many Italians, and Eastern Europeans settled here. These new immigrants helped transform Vaughan from an agricultural based economy into an important commercial and industrial centre. Vaughan would experience phenomenal growth in the ensuing decades which would lead to its incorporation as a City in 1991.
Richmond Hill sits between Vaughan and Markham north of Toronto. Vaughan (Thornhill and Concord) and Markham actually meet below Richmond Hill from Steeles Avenue southward.
Its northern boundary is Bloomington Rd. (Aurora town limit) to the north. It is approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the downtown core of Toronto.
Richmond Hill is a town located ,in the central portion of York Region, it has a population of close to 200,000 (2011).
Richmond Hill is one of the most multicultural communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Richmond Hill is also one of the fastest growing municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area which is not surprising considering its close proximity to Toronto, and the fact that it is home to major employers including: Compaq Canada., Epson Canada, Levi Strauss, Lexmark Canada, and Suzuki Canada.
The north-end of Richmond Hill known as Oak Ridges, is part of the environmentally significant Oak Ridges Moraine which is referred to as the “rain barrel of Ontario”. Ancient kettle lakes formed by the Moraine are significant landmarks in this part of the town. The largest of these is Lake Wilcox located at Bayview Avenue south of Bloomington Road. A public beach is located here.
Once considered the “Rose Capital of the World”, Richmond Hill has in recent years seen a huge population upsurge, being Canada’s fastest-growing community in the 1990s. The town is home to the world-renowned David Dunlap Observatory telescope, at one time the second largest telescope in the world, and still the largest in Canada.
Richmond Hill, south of Elgin Mills Road is completely urbanized. The subdivisions in this part of town have fairly high densities and include: detached homes, semi-detached homes, freehold townhouses, condominium townhouses, and link style homes. Many of these subdivisions are buffered by greenbelts and conservation areas. There is also an ever increasing number of condominium apartment buildings located along the Yonge Street corridor.
Many of Richmond Hill’s newest subdivisions are being built in the Oak Ridges community off Yonge Street, north of Stouffville Road. A great deal of planning and thought has gone into these developments which are situated in the picturesque but environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine corridor.
Richmond Hill’s heritage homes are situated in the downtown core at Yonge and Centre Street. The whimsical Ontario Cottages, and Board and Batten style homes found here, date back to the mid 1800s. Heritage plaques mounted on the front of these homes provide details on when they were built, who the original owners were, and their respective vocations. The Mill Pond community at Mill and Trench Streets, is situated just to the west of the aforementioned heritage district. This well-treed community has a pond as its focal point, and features big lots with ranch-style bungalows, and split-level houses, built in the 1950s and 60s.
Richmond Hill began to take shape in 1801, when Abner Miles settled a parcel of land fronting on Yonge Street at Major Mackenzie Drive. Richmond Hill’s strategic location between the City of Toronto and Lake Simcoe made it a popular stopover in the 1820s, when a stage coach line began operating on Yonge Street. To accommodate this increased traffic; Miles, operated an Inn that was popular with weary travellers along the busy Yonge Street corridor. Miles also operated a general store and an ashery. His son James, would later donate land for the first church, and school in Richmond Hill.
In the 1830s, a post office was added, and the name of the community was changed from Miles Hill (and later Mount Pleasant), to Richmond Hill. The origin of the name Richmond Hill may have stemmed from a visit by Charles Gordon Lennox, Fourth Duke of Richmond, and a Governor General of Canada. Still others believe the village name may have originated with the local school teacher Benjamin Barnard who taught his pupils to sing ‘The Lass of Richmond Hill’, recalled from his childhood days in Richmond, Surrey, England.
In 1873, Richmond Hill was officially incorporated as a village. Richmond Hill rose to national prominence in 1912, when it was recognized as the “Rose Growing Capital of Canada”. During this period some four million roses were grown here annually. Post World War II growth resulted in new housing developments in Richmond Hill, and a dramatic growth in the population. This led to the incorporation of the Town of Richmond Hill in 1957.
The York Region District School Board operates 25 public elementary schools in Richmond Hill, with 5 additional elementary schools in the planning stage. It also operates 5 secondary schools in Richmond Hill: Alexander Mackenzie High School, Bayview Secondary School, Langstaff Secondary School, Richmond Green Secondary School and Richmond Hill High School. Students in schools in the York Region District School Board have scored above the provincial average on the Assessment of Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Primary Division (Grades 1–3) and Junior Division (Grades 4–6) since their introduction in 2002. The board’s students in academic math streams have performed above the provincial average on the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics every year since its inception in 2002, while those in applied math streams were below the provincial average in 2002-2005, and above the provincial average from 2005-2007.
The York Catholic District School Board operates 13 Catholic elementary schools in Richmond Hill. It also operates two Catholic secondary schools, St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School and Jean Vanier Catholic High School.
There are also four private primary schools located in Richmond Hill and four private secondary schools, including Holy Trinity School. and Global Science Academy of Toronto.
Post-secondary education services are provided to the residents of Richmond Hill by several post-secondary educational institutions in Toronto, some of which have satellite campuses in nearby communities.
Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean was a guest at the opening ceremony of a school named after her, in 2008, the Michaëlle Jean Public School.
The town is bounded on the south by Aurora, on the west by King, on the north by East Gwillimbury and on the east by Whitchurch–Stouffville.
Newmarket is known as the “Heart of York Region”. Indeed it is strategically situated right in the centre of York Region, bridging the gap between the predominantly urban municipalities to the south, and the largely rural municipalities to the north.
The York Region municipal offices are also based in Newmarket at 17250 Yonge Street. In terms of size, Newmarket is the smallest municipality in the Greater Toronto Area, but it has a higher population density than many neighbouring municipalities. Newmarket’s compactness fosters a small town friendliness, and allows for conveniences and amenities to be easily accessible to all residents.
The Holland River winds its way through Newmarket providing picturesque streetscapes and plenty of parkland. Fairy Lake just to the east of the downtown is a treasured Newmarket landmark. Other Newmarket landmarks include: The Southlake Regional Health Centre located at 596 Davis Drive (which is currently undergoing a $148 million dollar expansion), and Pickering College which was established in 1842, and is one of the top co-ed private schools in Ontario.
The Downtown Newmarket heritage district situated at Main Street, south of Davis Drive , is brimming with Victorian and Edwardian style homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s. This historic district is buffered by ranch-style bungalows and two-storey homes that were built mostly in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Newer condominiums and townhouses now proliferate in Newmarket. In particular you will find many entry level housing options around the Newmarket Town Hall located at 395 Mulock Drive.
Much of the housing development currently taking place in Newmarket is located just along the Yonge Street corridor where you will find a good mix of detached, and semi-detached houses and townhomes. A selection of low and mid-rise condominium apartment buildings can also be found in this area. A fair number of condominium apartment buildings are also being built in the Mulock Drive and Bayview Avenue area. In the idyllic Newmarket countryside, you will find a limited number of higherend subdivisions with homes on estate size lots.
Newmarket’s 2006 Official Plan seeks to balance the desire to maintain the present low-density urban form characterized by the separation of residential, retail and employment uses and the need to comply with Ontario’s Places to Grow legislation, which identified the Yonge Street & Davis Drive intersection of Newmarket as one of 25 sites (Provincial Urban Growth Centres) for future intensification to be found throughout the Golden Horseshoe area.
Newmarket’s history dates back to 1801, when a man by the name of Timothy Rogers led several Quaker families from Vermont and Pennsylvania to their new home in Canada. One of these settlers was Joseph Hill, who built a mill, and established a trading post on the Holland River. Hill is also credited with having built the first house, and the first store in Newmarket.
In the 1830s, Newmarket was considered “rebel country”, as some of its citizens were key players in the uprising against the Family Compact, that was governing Upper Canada during this time. The settlers, frustrated that their grievances were not being heard, where led by former Toronto Mayor and newspaper publisher, William Lyon Mackenzie. The rebellion – which had sympathizers from rural towns and villages across Ontario – reached its zenith in December 1837, when the rebels marched into Toronto and were defeated. Samuel Lount of Newmarket, and Peter Matthews of Pickering were hung for their part in the rebellion.
The name “Newmarket” originated from a popular farmers market that was held every Saturday. This upstart “New Market” was said to rival the “Old Market”, which was the St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto. In 1852 the Huron & Simcoe Railway reached Newmarket, creating boom times and tremendous growth, that led to Newmarket’s incorporation as a village in 1857, and subsequent incorporation as a town in 1880. One of Newmarkets leading merchants during this time was Robert Simpson, the founder of the legendary Simpsons department store chain.
Newmarkets most dramatic period of growth occurred between the 1950s and 70s, when its population more than doubled. This boom period was highlighted by the grand opening of the Upper Canada Mall at Yonge Street and Davis Drive which was the impetus for the development of Newmarket’s Yonge Street corridor.
For over 100 years, the Downtown area has acted as a hub of commerce and cultural activity. Today, this historic area acts as the social and cultural centre of the Town and offers residents and visitors alike numerous shopping and dining options. Recent investments have been made to improve the aesthetics and function of the historic Downtown area.
Public elementary and secondary education in Newmarket is overseen by York Region’s two school boards: the York Region District School Board (YRDSB), and the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB).
The YRDSB operates four secondary schools in Newmarket: Dr. John M. Denison Secondary School, Huron Heights Secondary School, Newmarket High School, and Sir William Mulock Secondary School, in addition to 15 elementary schools.
The YCDSB operates one secondary school in the town: Sacred Heart Catholic High School, and six elementary schools.
Newmarket is also the home of Pickering College, a prestigious private day and boarding school.
The Town also houses a campus of Seneca College.
Markham is located north of Toronto, just west of Pickering, Ontario and east of Richmond Hill and Concord (Vaughan)
The City of Markham which recently passed the 300,000 population mark, is the largest municipality in York Region. Markham is known as one of the most multicultural communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Markham Centre situated on the northwest corner of Warden and Highway 7, is the head of government for Markham which has four main population centres including: Markham Village, Thornhill Village, Unionville Village and Milliken Mills.
Markham proudly proclaims itself to be the “High-Tech Capital of Canada”. Apple, ATT, I.B.M., and Toshiba, are just some of the multinational companies that have corporate offices here. Honda Canada, American Express Canada, Td Waterhouse and Allstate Insurance all have headquarters in Markham. The highly regarded Markham-Stouffville Hospital is also one of the pillars of this community.
Ever since 1991 Markham has championed the principles of “New Urbanism” in its official plan. New Urbanism expounds the virtues of ‘old fashioned’, pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods, where shopping, schools, and parks are within walking distance, and garages are tucked away out of site, off laneways at the rear of the house. Heritage style homes with whimsical front porches are also hallmarks of New Urbanism style homes.
The award winning Cornell subdivision situated in the northeast end of Markham, north of Highway 407 and east of Ninth Line, was the first New Urbanism subdivision built in Ontario. Other award winning Markham communities include Angus Glen,, a golf course community, located north of Sixteenth Avenue just east of Kennedy Road, and Swan Lake Village, an adult lifestyle community consisting of 1,200 homes, situated north of Sixteenth Avenue between Highway 48 and Ninth Line.
Markham is continuing to incorporate New Urbanism principles in its push towards “smart growth” as a way to combat urban sprawl. At the forefront of this “smart growth” will be the ambitious development of a new downtown core called “Markham Centre” which will be built on 992 acres of land, located north of Highway 407 and south of Highway 7, between Warden Avenue and Kennedy Road. This landmark mixed use project will consist primarily of townhouses and condominium buildings that will create 10,000 new homes. A large amount of retail stores, offices, and greenspace will define this community, allowing residents to walk to work, shopping and recreation facilities; thereby reducing the need for cars.
Markham is known for it commitment to preserving it’s heritage homes. This dedication is exemplified in the Markham Village Estates subdivision located at Sixteenth Avenue and Highway 48. This unique subdivision is home to more than 20 century homes that were saved from the onset of urban sprawl and relocated to this site. These historical homes have been lovingly restored by their owners who purchase their lots from the City of Markham and then must adhere to strict restoration guidelines set down by the Markham heritage planning department.
Neighbourhoods and communities
Markham is made up of many original 19th century communities (many of which, despite being technically suburban districts today, are still signed with official ‘town limits’ signs on major roads) and/or each with a distinctive character:
• Angus Glen
• Berczy Village
• Box Grove
• Brown’s Corners
• Cedar Grove
• Downtown Markham
• Dickson’s Hill
• German Mills
• Hagermans Corners
• Locust Hill
• Markham Village
• Milliken Mills
• Mount Joy
• Raymerville – Markville East
• Rouge Fairways
• Sherwood – Amber Glen
• South Unionville
• Underwood, Ontario
• Uptown Markham
• Victoria Square
• Vinegar Hill
• Wismer Commons
Thornhill and Unionville are popularly seen as being separate communities. Thornhill actually straddles the Markham-Vaughan municipal boundary (portions of it in both municipalities).
In 1791, John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, named this Township, Markham, after his good friend William Markham, the Archbishop of York. Markham’s first settler was William Berczy, a German artist and developer. In 1794, Berczy negotiated with Simcoe to acquire 64,000 acres in Markham Township, which became known as the German Company Lands.
Berczy would lead a group of 64 Pennsylvania German families to Markham. These first settlers were soon joined by other groups including: French Revolutionary Emigres, United Empire Loyalists, and people from the British Isles. The industriousness of these pioneers was self evident in the many homesteads, working farms, and mill sites, that defined Markham’s early growth. Industry, such as wagon works, furniture makers, and tanneries flourished in the mid to late 1800s.
The railway arrived in Markham in 1871, signalling a new period of prosperity that led to the incorporation of the Village of Markham in 1873. Markham would remain a primarily rural settlement, until the 1950s and 60s when new home subdivsions began sprouting up in the countryside. In 1970, Markham graduated to its current Town status. The opening of Highway 404, in the mid 1970s, paved the way for the rapid urbanization that continues to unfold in Markham to this day.
Seneca College’s Markham Campus
Markham currently does not have any universities itself, but Seneca College has campuses at Highways 7 and 404 and at Buttonville Municipal Airport. Most high school graduates continue to post-secondary education in universities across Ontario. There are local transit services that connect to various post-secondary institutions in the Greater Toronto Area.
Markham has a number of both public and Catholic high schools. All have consistently scored high on standardized tests and have some of the highest rate of graduates attending universities.
• Public schools
o Bill Crothers Secondary School
o Bur Oak Secondary School
o Markham District High School
o Markville Secondary School
o Middlefield Collegiate Institute
o Milliken Mills High School
o Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School
o Thornhill Secondary School
o Thornlea Secondary School
o Unionville High School
• Catholic schools
o St. Brother André Catholic High School
o St. Augustine Catholic High School
o St. Robert Catholic High School
o Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy