Toronto Neighbourhood Guide

Thornhill

History of Thornhill

Thornhill's first settlers arrived in 1794. It was a settler named Asa Johnson. However; the community takes its name from Benjamin Thorne who settled here in 1820. Thorne operated a gristmill, a sawmill, and a tannery in the area. Not surprisingly the settlement became known as Thorne's Mills, and subsequently Thorne's Hill, and finally Thornhill. 

Thornhill's location along Yonge Street was a major impetus for its growth as it provided access to the City of Toronto to the south. This access was acclerated with the arrival of the electric street railway along Yonge Street in 1898 and further enhanced in the 1920s, with the arrival of the automobile. In 1931, Thornhill became a "Police Village". Essentially a Police Village is a small village or town with a population too small to warrant incorporation and formal municipal government Often times these smaller population clusters were referred to as Hamlets. The Police Village designation allowed citizens to appoint Reeves who would help maintain law and order.

When York Region was created in In 1971, the Police Village of Thornhill was dissolved. However; Thornhill would retain its village identity in part thanks to the post office which retained the Thornhill name and serviced homes and businesses within the former village's boundaries. Thornhill has expanded northward over the years. The Thornhill name has been used to denote many of the new subdivisions that have sprung up in the area. 

Today, in Old Thornhill along Yonge Street, over one hundred historic buildings stand as reminders of Thornhill's past. The Thornhill Historical Society has  commemorated fifteen sites with historic plaques. The Thornhill Village (Wheatsheaf) Festival was started in 1977 in part to draw attention to the "Old Town". Thorn hill, east and west of Yonge Street are designated as Heritage Conservation Districts.

 

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