Seventeen buildings in Markham were recently commemorated with plaques gifted to the families, many of whom have retained the property for up to seven generations.
The July 7 event was held at the Markham Village Train Station and was hosted by the Markham Village Conservancy (MVC). Invitations were extended to the families whose histories were briefly recounted by MVC Donna Knight before they were honoured with the plaques. The Town Crier officially opened the commemorative ceremony
Knight provided historical background information on the families and properties receiving the plaques. Markham’s Official Historian, Lorne Smith, enriched the stories.
Two of Knight’s anecdotes included that 89 Main Street South (built 1840) had been built for the former blacksmith Reverend Youmans, named “The Old Hammer” for his style of preaching, and that Capt. William Armstrong had organized a local militia during the Rebellion of 1837, contributed land for the Markham Fair, and built and owned the Wellington Hotel. His home remains in the hands of the Armstrong family to this day (since 1823).
Knight told of the of the John G. Coulson House (1914 in Unionville). It has been in the Coulson/Weatherhill family for 75 years. Dr. Coulson, an Emeritus professor, had served in the capacity of Chair of the Plant department at McGill University, a position which he retained until he reached the age of compulsory retirement in 1958, but tirelessly worked for yet another 10 years.
Other families, their histories and homes in Mount Joy, Markham that were recognized included the John Albert Eby, teamster house (constructed 1895), Francis Michell house, carpenter (1888), George Reesor, trustee and thresher (built 1895) house; John Monkhouse, lumber dealer (1903); Abraham B. Ramer, cabinetmaker (1848); P.E. Jaynes, builder (1892) and the Byer Cancer Hospital (1907).
The Markham Train Station, which goes back to 1870 on land originally purchased by the Mennonite, Peter Reesor from Pennsylvania, was also honoured. Members of the Conservancy who oversee its use and maintenance gratefully received the plaque from the mayor.
The history of Historic Markham is retained in these buildings and properties. If it weren’t for the families who care for them to this day, a significant dimension of Markham’s (Reesorville’s) legacy would be forgotten. The ceremony was also testimony to civic-minded residents from all walks of life who gathered within the historical train station for the plaque ceremony. Mayor Scarpitti acknowledged how many new residents had been drawn to preserve the past and carry it forward in their understanding of Historic Markham today.
Photo (l-r): Donna Knight, Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Ward 4 Councillor Karen Rea. Story by Andrew Fuyarchuk, Dianne More, Donna Knight and Kugan Subramaniam