Toronto Neighbourhood Guide


History of Markham

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.


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