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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.

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The first dwellings and businesses were built of wood as the Rouge River was a choice location for the early sawmill, among other industries. Several of these older wood frame structures remain standing today, some hidden behind new facades.

In May 1872, fire destroyed many of the buildings on the east side of Main Street and new fire regulations were passed that included a restriction on wood construction. Mostly brick, two-storey structures rose from the ashes. Over the next decades, needed infrastructure including water mains, electric service, paved roads and sidewalks, street lighting, and sewers were added. The Mount Joy police village to the north was taken over in 1915, further extending along Markham Village Main Street.

Main Street North at Highway 7 continues to be a commercial core of the community.