Welcome to Main Street Markham

Main Street Markham is the original main street of the Village of Markham – one of Ontario’s oldest communities with a rich and interesting past. Today, Main Street Markham is a unique commercial district blending history and tradition with modern and new shops, spas, art studios, cafes, pubs, restaurants, services and activities.

Visit us to experience an enjoyable place to shop, engage and dine – and perhaps even stay!

Parking is always free – click here for a map.

About the BIA

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a municipally desginated area in which all of the businesses located within the BIA are automatically deemed to be members. The very first BIA was created in the City of Toronto, which now has 65 BIAs within its boundaries and the model has been seen as an example of how small businesses and municipal governments can work together for each others benefit.

The function of a BIA is simply to promote the BIA and beautify the BIA.

The geographical area of a BIA is determined by the Municipality, in our case the City of Markham, and is governed by the Province of Ontario’s Municipal Act. In the case of the Markham Village BIA, the BIA starts at Highway 7 north to just above 144 Main St. N and includes the side streets (Centre St., Robinson St. and the west side of Washington St.). Every building owner within this designated area pays a special tax levy based on their property assessment that is used to fund all of the activities of the BIA. The BIA is managed by a volunteer Board of Management comprised of BIA members (owners and/or renters).

Click here for more information about the Markham Village BIA, bylaws and board of management meetings.

The Markham Village BIA currently has approximately 165 members. These include all the retail stores, as well as all the businesses on Main Street Markham and side streets.

Markham Village BIA Board of Directors

The following members make up the current BIA Board until November 2018.

Behzad Safati
Blink Optical

Paul Cicchini – Chair
The Duchess of Markham

Susan Taylor
Re/Max All Stars Realty
905 477-7766

Daniel Imbrogno
Love Gelato
905 201-2918

Shaun Kelly
Al Dente Restaurant
905 471-5670

Avery Rhijnsburger
905 471-7821

Brian Rowsell
It’s the Cat’s Meow

City of Markham Appointees

Karen Rea – Ward 4 Councillor

Colin Campbell – Ward 5 Councillor

History of Main Street Markham

Markham Township was originally surveyed in 1793-1794 and was named after Archbishop William Markham of York, England by John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. William Markham never visited his namesake.
As people settled in the township in the early 1800’s, the east corner of Hwy 48 and 7 (Lot 11, Conc.8) was sold to Joseph Reesor, one of a large number of Pennsylvania-Germans who were to make this area their home. A few years later, several homes stood on this corner. This small community was known as Reesorville. Later, it was referred to as Mannheim (German for ‘man’s home’). By 1828, when the post office (53 Main St.) opened, the hamlet adopted the township’s title, Markham.

Looking north at the East side of Main Street you can see where Focus On Flowers currently is, then Moore Chiropractic Clinic, then the Tremont Hotel as it looked at the turn of the 20th century.
The industry in the early village was nestled on the banks of the Rouge River which crosses Hwy 48 south of Hwy 7. The water was harnessed to power the machinery of the saw, grist and woolen mills which were located on the riverbanks.
In addition to mills, taverns also made an early appearance. Inns were necessary at this time of slow travel. Here , weary travellers were assured a satisfying repast and a place to rest.

Mills and hotel required the services of coopers (barrel-makers) and distillers and so, these subsidiary businesses established themselves nearby. The mills and taverns also attracted local people and travellers. Consequently, storekeepers, blacksmiths and other businessmen set up shop to service the same customers. Gradually, the business activity of Markham Village spread northward from Vinegar Dip. The opening of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway through the Village in 1871 pulled Markham’s manufacturers and tradesman further north. Before the turn of the century, there was so much manufacturing in the village, that Markham became known as the ‘Birmingham of Ontario’.

Looking north on Main Street from Robinson C1900. the building in the left foreground is now Cornercopia
In 1872, the Village of Markham was incorporated. In May of that year, a fire destroyed a number of buildings on Main Street. As a result, many felt that if the village was to be protected, everyone should be taxed. To do so, the village had to be incorporated. Nine years after incorporation, the Village of Markham boasted 954 residents.

The Vinegar Hill Story
Main Street Markham, south of Hwy 7, is known as Vinegar Hill. Long-time resident of Princess Street, Myra Chepak provided the following history of how Vinegar Hill came by its’ name. There are two versions of how this name came about.
The first story was told to Alma Walker, former Reeve of Markham Village, by the late John Lunau, who was considered the Historian of Markham. He said a local Irish family named Baker, called the area Vinegar Hill after their home in Ireland.
The second version is much more colourful and was related to the same Mrs. Walker by Mort Selleck, the local gravedigger, who was an old duffer over sixty years ago, when the story was told. He carefully and colourfully described how on Good Friday and only on Good Friday, the Coopers (barrel-makers) held a competition.
Now keep in mind the area did not look as it does today. Princess Street jogged off to the north-west from the tree lined, dirt road now known as Hwy 48 and curved back north of the Rouge River. Fisher Court remains as a reminder of where the roads re-joined after the last bridge was washed out in 1954 by Hurricane Hazel. A woolen mill was located to the west of the river owned and operated by the Milne family and a grist mill operated in the valley land area east of the Rougehaven development.
It was the barrel-makers of these two mills that instigated the competition. They each filled barrels with vinegar and rolled them from a point just south of Mill Street down the steep, dirt track to determine whose barrels would run in the straightest line, thereby crediting one or the other with building the truest and best barrel. Thus, the name Vinegar Hill!

To find out more about the
History of Main Street, please click here.