Markham is a suburban city directly north of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. It includes the historic village of Unionville, which is now a heritage district, and can offer the traveller some cheaper accommodation options if you don't mind the distance from the attractions of Toronto.
Markham is host to a wide variety of technology company headquarters, which included video card maker ATI Technologies, Motorola, IBM Software Labs and Sun Microsystems (with the exact list prone to change as companies are acquired by rivals). The Town's slogans 'The Mark of Excellence' and 'Canada's High Tech Capital' are well emphasized, with a multicultural community, a variety of events and attractions, and an embracement of old town nostalgia and modern high-tech living.
Note that the City of Markham has two streets called Main Street and they are in different parts of the city. Main Street Markham is essentially the same as Markham Road and runs north-south through the city's old town centre called Markham Village. "Main Street North" is a more specific name for "Main Street Markham". Various maps may identify the street as both "Markham Road" and either "Main Street North" or "Main Street Markham". (There is a "Main Street South" south of Highway 7, but it is not as interesting as Main Street North.) Main Street Unionville is further west of Main Street Markham and runs north-south through the heritage district of Unionville. The two Main Streets are over 4 km apart and both cross Highway 7 near the south end.
There are three heritage districts within the City of Markham where there is a cluster of 19th century structures. They are:
- Main Street Unionville is the quaintest of the three heritage districts which is residential at the southern end and commercial (mainly eateries) at the northern end.
- Main Street Markham (a.k.a. Markham Village) still retains Markham's pleasant small town centre with a number of heritage buildings intermixed with more modern structures. Main Street Markham has more shopping opportunities than Main Street Unionville. Both have a number of eateries.
- Thornhill has a cluster of heritage buildings along Colborne Street, a quaint residential street. There are few eateries near this heritage district, and hardly any shopping opportunities. While Main Street Unionville and Main Street Markham may be each a day trip, Thornhill is mainly a brief stopover. Thornhill's advantage is that it is the easiest of the three districts to reach from Finch Station.
If you have a private jet, you can fly to Markham. Otherwise, you'll have to be stick to public transit or the car.
Public transit access from Toronto to Markham typically begins at Finch Station on TTC subway Line 1 Yonge-University, and then transferring to York Region Transit which offers bus service in York Region (including Viva express buses) serving Markham as well as other communities in York Region such as Newmarket and East Gwillimbury.
However, if you are visiting Pacific Mall, the best way to access these malls by transit is via TTC route #53 (Steeles East) which departs from Finch Station on subway Line 1 Yonge-University. If you are travelling in the east-end, TTC route #43 (Kennedy) going north from Kennedy Station on subway Line 2 Bloor-Danforth and Line 3 Scarborough may be more useful for you.
For Main Street Unionville, take the Viva Blue bus from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal. From there, the YRT route 1 bus runs to Main Street Unionville; cross the street to the north side to enter the heritage district. Alternatively, you could take Viva Purple from Richmond Hill Centre to the Vivastation Kennedy Rd / Hwy 7, and then walk west 500 metres.
For Main Street Markham (a.k.a. Markham Village), take the Viva Blue bus from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal. From there, transfer to Viva Purple to the Vivastation Hwy 7 / Main Markham.
GO Transit provides train and bus service from Toronto to Markham with stops at the Milliken, Unionville, Centennial and Markham GO stations. GO trains on the Stouffville Line operate approximately every hour to Milliken and Unionville GO stations weekdays starting late morning. GO train service to Centennial and Markham GO stations is commuter-oriented with trains running inbound to Toronto during the morning rush hours and outbound in the afternoon rush. GO buses on routes 70/71 are an alternative when trains are not available. Keep in mind Unionville GO Station is 1.33 km from the south end of the Main Street Unionville heritage district.
Unsurprisingly for a suburb, most travel is typically done by private automobile, with numerous highways and arterials leading in and out of the town.
Highway 404 goes north to south, starting at Green Lane in East Gwillimbury and ending in Toronto as the Don Valley Parkway.
Going from east to west is the privately-held toll Highway 407, which begins in the east at Brock Road and ends 108 kilometres west in Burlington. The 407 is the most overpriced toll road in North America, per kilometre; this road is problematic for rental car drivers as the inflated bill is sent to the vehicle's owner. Alternatives are old Highway 7 (a very busy local east-west surface street) or a trip south on the 404 to Toronto to pick up Ontario Highway 401, Canada's busiest freeway.
For Main Street Unionville, the heritage district is north of Highway 7 which intersects Main Street Unionville at a traffic light. On the north side of the intersection there are signs marking the entrance to the district. There is parking off Carlton Road on the south side, east of Main Street.
The main street of Markham is nominally Markham Road (old Highway 48). There is a small downtown, which is largely lost in all the Toronto suburban sprawl.
Like the rest of the Greater Toronto Area, Markham is laid out in grid fashion. The main east-west local avenues in Markham (from north to south) are Stouffville Road, Elgin Mills Road East, Major Mackenzie Drive East, Highway 7, 14th Avenue and then Steeles Avenue East which is the border between Markham and Toronto. Most businesses are located on Highway 7 and Steeles Avenue East.
From west to east, the major roads are Yonge Street (border between Markham and Vaughan), Bayview Avenue, Leslie Street, Woodbine Avenue, Warden Avenue, Kennedy Road, McCowan Road, Markham Road (sometimes known as Highway 48) and then Ninth Line.
If you are travelling by public transit, three transit agencies operate within Markham: YRT/Viva, GO Transit, and TTC (see the Get In section).
Viva Blue, Viva Purple and Viva Pink are YRT bus rapid transit routes each having good service frequencies. Viva Blue runs north-south along the western boundary of Markham from Finch Station on Subway Line 1 Yonge-University. Viva Purple operates east-west through Markham. One can transfer between Viva Blue and Purple at the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal. Viva Pink follows the route of Viva Blue from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal, then follows the route of Viva Purple to Unionville GO Station (which is 1.33 km from the heritage district Main Street Unionville). Use Viva Purple if need to go further east of Unionville GO Station.
TTC route 53 Steeles East starts at Finch Station and runs along Markham's southern boundary with Toronto. Unlike YRT and Viva buses, TTC route 53 has overnight service from 2AM to 5AM, coming every 30 minutes. Rush hour frequencies are particularly good for this route (every 3-5 minutes), reflecting the fact that it is the 19th busiest TTC bus route out of 148.
YRT route 1 Highway 7 has a frequency of about every 30 minutes, and runs roughly parallel to the more frequent Viva Purple.
TTC route 102D Markham Rd offers half-hourly service from Warden Station on Subway Line 2 Bloor-Danforth into York Region through Main Street Markham. Such a journey would require both a TTC fare as well as a YRT fare. Route 102D provides most of the local service within Markham Village along Main Street Markham.
- 1 Cathedral of the Transfiguration, 10350 Woodbine Ave (at the end of Cathedral High St; buses 24, 80). This impressive landmark is a Byzantine Revival cathedral which features the world's largest three-bell carillon. After lying idle and incomplete since 2006, a congregation started using the church in 2017. The cathedral looks impressive from a distance such as east from Highway 404.
- 2 Markham Museum, 9350 Markham Rd (Hwy 48) (just 150m north of 16th Ave; buses 16 & 102), ☏ . Summer Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat&Sun noon-5pm, closed on statuary holidays. This 25-acre (10 ha) open-air museum features nearly 30 buildings from Markham's past: houses, barns, sheds, a train station, a school, a general store, a church, a blacksmith, a harness shop, a saw mill, a cider mill, and many more.
Main Street Unionville
Unionville is a historic village that developed in the 1840s in what was then rural Markham Township. It's now amalgamated into city of Markham but the quaint period buildings have been preserved as a heritage conservation district, Main Street Unionville. Many of the old buildings now house pubs, eateries or other small businesses, and the area is worth a stop if you're in the area and have some time.
From Highway 7 north to the railway grade crossing, Main Street is lined with elegant old houses which are private residences. From the railway grade crossing north to Carlton Road, Main Street is commercial with most businesses having a tourist orientation. Many of the businesses are located in former houses. Station Lane branches from Main Street just north of the railway grade crossing and has a few old residences as well as the former Unionville railway station and Stiver Mill; the latter two buildings serve a community functions today.
Here are some sites of interest listed from south to north:
- 3 Evangelical Lutheran Church Parsonage, 109 Main St Unionville. Private residence. Built in 1879, a number of church ministers occupied the parsonage until 1918. The house was sold as a private residence in 1947 after a decline in church attendance.
- 4 William Eckardt House, 124 Main St Unionville (at Euclid Ave). Private residence. William Eckardt built this house circa 1852. Eckardt was a prominent local resident who helped bring the railway to Unionville.
- 5 Former Unionville railway station, 7 Station Lane. The Toronto and Nipissing (T&N) Railway built the station in the 1871; the last trains stopped here in 1991. The City of Markham now owns the historic railway station and uses it for community functions.
- 6 Stiver Mill, 9 Station Lane. Today, the City of Markham owns the mill and uses it for community functions. Oddly, the historic plaque for the mill is located where Eureka Street crosses the railway line almost out of sight of the mill.
- 7 George Pingle House, 15 Station Lane. Private residence. Labourer George Pingle built this house in 1874 near the railway station.
- 8 Unionville Planing Mill, 139 Main St Unionville. There is an old water wheel at the north-east corner of the former mill which is used today for a restaurant and shops. Looking older than its actual age, the present structure was built in 1987 replacing a mill destroyed by fire in 1983.
- 9 Queen’s Hotel, 174 Main St Unionville. The Queen’s Hotel building, with its distinctive exterior, was built in 1871 along with the coming of the railway. Damaged by fire in March, 2015, the restored building is expected to reopen in late 2016.
- 10 [dead link] McKay Art Centre (Eckhardt-McKay House), 197 Main St Unionville, ☏ . Closed Mondays & Tuesdays. The house was built between 1845 and 1851. Today, the building is an art gallery exhibiting the works of local artists. Free.
- 11 Stiver House, 206 Main St Unionville. Private residence. Built about 1829, the Stiver House is the oldest known building in Unionville.
- 12 Varley Art Gallery of Markham, 216 Main St Unionville. The gallery has a small collection of art on display. free.
- 13 Toogood Pond, 216 Main St Unionville. Park with large pond. Lots of large open spaces for jogging. Certain areas of the pond allow fishing.
Main Street Markham
Main Street Markham has a retail and residential districts with a number of buildings from the 19th century intermixed with more modern structures. The area is also called Markham Village. Main Street Markham is extends 2 km (1.2 mi) from Highway 7 on the south to 16th Avenue on the north. The retail area is 600 m (2,000 ft) long and is located at the south end.
Here are partial list of interesting structures along Main Street Markham:
- 14 David Barkey Row Houses, 40-44 Main Street North (south of Centre St). The Speight Wagon Company had these Second Empire style houses built in 1895, which housed some of the company's 100 employees.
- 15 James Speight house, 48 Main Street North (opposite Centre St). Built by James Speight circa 1870, this picturesque house is known as the “Wedding Cake House” for its fanciful decorative woodwork.
- 16 60 Main Street North. This block of buildings was built in 2014 according to the date stone, but in the architectural style of over 100 years ago. The building has 12 sections, each in a different style. There are various shops at street level.
- 17 Former John Wilson store (Markham Vintage Books & Shoes), 80 Main St N (at Dublin St). John Wilson built this false front store in 1864.
- 18 The Old Town Hall, 96 Main Street North (just south of Robinson St). This former town hall was built 1882 for $4,437. The basement was divided with Village council meeting in the south half, and the jail occupying the north half. The Masonic and Oddfellow Lodges met on the second storey.
- 19 Former Christian Reesor store (today: Tim Clark's Flowers), 97 Main Street North. Christian Reesor built this store in 1873, shortly after his marriage to Emma Cornell, and the building has always operated as a store.
- 20 Former William Browning cottage, 140 Main Street North (just north of Wilson St). Watchmaker William Browning built this cottage circa 1845.
- 21 Former Henry Wilson house, 144 Main Street North. Henry Wilson built this High Victorian picturesque home in 1886.
- 22 Former Robert J. Corson house, 162 Main Street North. Robert J. Corson built this High Victorian Picturesque house in 1887.
- 23 Former Toronto and Nipissing Railway Company Station (current Markham GO Station), 214 Main Street North. The Toronto and Nipissing Railway Company (T&N) built this station in 1871. The station was later inherited by the Canadian National Railway and it still serves a railway function today for GO Transit. The one-storey building has a box shape broken only by a shallow operator's bay. Today, a community centre occupies the west end of the station building with a waiting room for rush hour commuters at the east end. Through the windows, one can see an old-fashion stove in the waiting room, which is open only during the morning rush hours.
Thornhill has a small heritage district with over a dozen structures from the 19th century. Most of the old structures are along Colburne Street, a picturesque residential street, where most heritage houses have a white picket fence around the front yard. A few others heritage houses are along John Street.
- 24 Thornhill Village Library (Ellen Ramsden House), 10 Colborne (east of Yonge St). The library is in a two storey clapboard building constructed in 1851 as a house for Mrs. Ellen Ramsden.
- 25 William Lane Cooper House, 14 Colborne St. Private residence. The house was built for William Lane Cooper circa 1846.
- 26 Robert Jarrot House, 15 Colborne St. Private residence. The house was built in 1840 for Robert Jarrot; it was enlarged and moved back from the street in 1910.
- 27 Jobb Trott House, 25 Colborne St. Private residence. Job Trott, a local mason, built this house in 1851.
- 28 John Ramsden Cottage, 26 Colborne St. Private residence. John Ramsden, Head Miller at Pomona Mills, built this two-family cottage in 1854. Around 1940, it was converted to a single family dwelling.
- 29 John Ramsden House, 30 Colborne St. Private residence. John Ramsden built this house in 1852.
- 30 Mill Workers Double Cottage, 37&39 Colborne St. Private residence. Thomas Hamill, a Thornhill carpenter, built this double cottage around 1850 perhaps as rental housing for workers employed in nearby mills.
- 31 St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Church (St. Lukes Roman Catholic Church and Manse), 15 Church Lane. St. Lukes Roman Catholic Church and Manse was built in 1847 and became St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Church in 1972.
- 32 Thornhill Cemetery, 1 Church Lane. Thornhill Cemetery is non-denominational burial ground founded in 1867.
- 33 Lelliot House, 28 John St. Private residence. William Lelliot built this house in 1860 for his family.
- 34 Lane House, 26 John St. Private residence. The house was built in 1845, and occupied in 1853 by John Lane, a cooper, who established a barrel factory on John Street.
- 35 Goodfellow House, 22 John St. Private residence. The house was built in 1846 for Mrs. Margaret Goodfellow. It was later the residence of Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer in the early 1920s.
- 36 Frizzell House, 18 John St. Private residence. Richard Sutton Frizzell built this house in 1848. Frizzell was a staunch Tory Loyalist and acted against the Rebellion of 1837. A histotical plaque stand before the house.
- 37 Cook House, 16 John St. Private residence. Built in 1879, this was the home of Mrs. Jane Cook, a 19th century inn-keeper. The house was originally located on the west side of Yonge Street beside her inn.
- 38 Patrick Casey House, 14 John St. Private residence. The house was built by Patrick Casey in 1854.
- Markham Jazz Festival. August. Held along both Main Street Markham and Main Street Unionville.
- [dead link] Doors Open Markham. 10AM-4PM. Held in late September (eg September 30, 2017).
- 1 [dead link] Markham Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph (corner Markham Rd & Hwy 7 at the Markham Community Arena). Nov. 11
- 2 Markham Fair, 10801 McCowan Rd (corner of Elgin Mills Rd E & McCowan Rd). Weekend before Canadian Thanksgiving. Country fair with horse pull, demolition derby, tractor pull.
Main Street Unionville
- Unionville Village Festival. first weekend of June.
- [dead link] Unionville Heritage Festival. Labour Day
- 3 [dead link] Unionville Remembrance Day Ceremony, 210 Main St Unionville (at Crosby Memorial Community Centre). November 11.
- [dead link] Unionville Olde Tyme Christmas & Candlelight Parade, Main St Unionville. First Friday evening of December with festivities continuing through the weekend.
- 4 Thursday Nights at the Bandstand, Main St Unionville (Millenium Bandstand, at Fred Valley Dr). Thursday evenings, June through August. blues, jazz, funk, soul, vintage hits, classical guitar.
- 5 Flato Markham Theatre, 171 Town Centre Blvd (by the Markham Town Centre), ☏ , toll-free: . Live theatre.
- 1 CF Markville (Markville Mall), 5000 Highway 7 E (at McCowan Rd), ☏ . Shopping mall.
- 2 Pacific Mall, 4300 Steeles Ave. E (at Kennedy Rd), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Year round including holidays. Su-Th 11AM-8PM, F,Sa, 11AM-9PM. Pacific Mall is the largest Chinese indoor mall in North America with 400 stores selling a large variety of retail goods as well as herbs, prepared Chinese foods and entertainment. This is a great place to visit for cheap DVDs, computer parts, photography equipment, cellphone accessories and the like. Caveat emptor: Some vendors in the mall have a reputation for selling cheap, poor quality counterfeit goods. There was police raid in June 2018 because of complaints.
- 3 First Markham Place, 3255 Highway 7 East (East of Woodbine Ave.). A medium size mall with Chinese restaurants and stores
Markham has a large variety of foods to choose from in a variety of price ranges. The Chinese population is especially high in this area (~40% in the last census), so if you enjoy Chinese food, this is the place to look for it!
- 1 Congee Queen, 2930 Steeles Ave E (The Shops on Steeles and 404, just west of Hwy 404), ☏ . 10:30AM-12AM M-Th, 10:30-1AM F-Sa, 10:00AM-12AM Su. Always a perennial weekend favourite. Named after the Chinese breakfast dish, the restaurant also serves many other stir-fried dishes, rice plates and soup noodles. Do try and share the Seafood & Chicken with Wintermelon Super Bowl Congee with a friend. Cheap.
- 2 Backyard Garden Restaurant, 3636 Steeles Ave E (turn at Ferrier St on Steeles), ☏ . 11AM-10PM. Small little Chinese restaurant serving some excellent Sichuan and Hebei-style food. Several spicy options.
Main Street Markham
- 3 The Old Curiosity Tea Shop, 91 Main Street North (north of Dublin St), ☏ . Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun-Mon closed. This tea shop is in a 1895 heritage building, a former bank branch. The interior is very attractively decorated. About $15 for tea & pastry.
Main Street Unionville
- 4 Jakes on Main, 202 Main St Unionville. Patio. Moderately priced.
- 5 Old Firehall Confectionary, B170 Main St Unionville. Chocolate lovers should at least look inside at the various fancy chocolates on display.
- 6 York Farmers Market, 7509 Yonge St, Thornhill (east side of Yonge St south of Elgin Ave), ☏ . Thu&Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 9am-5pm , Sun 11am-4pm. A collection of small vendors selling mostly food items, many of them ready to eat. Small seating area with tables.
- 7 [dead link] Chauhan's Fine Indian Cuisine & Banquet, 2800 14th Ave (east of Woodbine Ave), ☏ . Indian cuisine, lunch buffet, dinner à la carte.
- 8 Hunan Restaurant & Bar, 300 John St, Thornhill (At Thornhill Square Shopping Centre), ☏ . M-F noon-10:30PM, Sa-Su 4PM-10:30PM. If you're a beginner to the world of homestyle Chinese food and/or don't speak Mandarin, the scene in the GTA can be daunting. Not so at this matter-of-factly-named eatery, where there's no language barrier to worry about, the staff is friendly, attentive, and obviously well accustomed to answering questions, and most importantly, no corners are cut in terms of culinary authenticity. (In fact, if there's a complaint to be lodged, it's that non-newbies might find the verbiage in the menu a little too dumbed-down: for instance, if you're looking for Dong'an chicken, it's listed as "deep-fried chicken with chili pepper".) Ambience is another plus, with way more character than you'd expect from a restaurant inside a shopping mall. $15-35.
- 1 Comfort Inn Toronto Northeast, 8330 Woodbine Ave (just south of Hwy 7), ☏ , fax: .
- 2 [dead link] Edward Village Markham (formerly Delta Markham), 50 East Valhalla Dr (just south of Hwy 7), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 3 Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Markham, 300 Commerce Valley Dr East (just south of Hwy 7), ☏ , fax: .
- 4 Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa, 8500 Warden Ave (just south of Hwy 7), ☏ , fax: .
- 5 Monte Carlo Inns - Downtown Markham Suites, 7255 Warden Ave (North of Steeles Ave E), ☏ . Despite its name, the hotel is not in "downtown" Markham.
- 6 Monte Carlo Inns - Toronto Markham, 8900 Woodbine Ave, ☏ . North of Highway 7.
- Park Inn by Radisson Toronto-Markham, 555 Cochrane Drive, ☏ .
Markham has a hospital: Markham Stouffville Hospital. It is located on the east end of the city, on Ninth Line just north of Highway 7.
- Newmarket has its own attractive heritage Main Street.
|Routes through Markham|
|Newmarket ← Richmond Hill ←||N S||→ Toronto → END|
|Kitchener ← Richmond Hill ← becomes ←||W E||→ Pickering → Peterborough|
|END ← Whitchurch-Stouffville ←||N S||→ Scarborough → Toronto|