Saturday, February 1, 2020
The town of Maple is one of the fastest growing communities in Ontario but it wasn’t always this way. From the founding days in the early 1800s the town was overshadowed by the nearby communities of Teston and Sherwood. When the railway arrived in 1853 and located the Richmond Hill station on the edge of town things began to change rapidly. The other local communities began to fade away while Maple became a thriving town with a saw mill, hotels and general stores. It remained a rural village until the urban sprawl of the GTA caught up to it in the 1950s. Today the area is home to Canada’s Wonderland, lots of housing and some industry. However, the original town of Maple sits like a ghost hiding among the new development. Those older buildings form the nucleus of the Maple Cultural Heritage District that seeks to protect the local history.
The County Atlas below shows what the town looked like in 1877 when it was drawn.
The Frank Robson log house sits in a fenced woodlot on the west side of Keele Street. The house has had a couple of additions but the original home was built out of logs cut from the virgin forest on the lot. The logs of the main structure are notable for their size and the detailing of the dove-tail that links the corners. The house was bought and restored around 1929 by Sam Sobara when it was sitting in an undeveloped rural area on the edge of Maple.
The Presbyterian Church was built in 1862 in a style known as Carpenter Gothic. This design applies the pointed arches and other Gothic features to wooden buildings. There are very few of these types of buildings in Vaughan. The Presbyterians had been meeting in town since 1829 and their first building was consecrated in 1832.
The church purchased a lot across the street to be used for their cemetery and several of the early settlers are buried there.
Thomas Noble died on March 25, 1857 and lies buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery. His family were part of the early founders of Maple and the original name for the community was Nobles Corner after Joseph Noble who was the first postmaster.
There is only one example of Georgian Revival architecture in town. It was built in 1870 and occupies what is now a prominent corner lot on main street. The hand-pressed red bricks are accented with buff quoins and window heads. The house is two stories with three bays on the front. An historical plaque in front of the house commemorates Lord Beaverbrook who was born in Maple. William Maxwell Aiken was the son of the Presbyterian Minister in town and went on to become a British Cabinet Minister after moving to the U.K. He was the largest publisher of mass-circulation news papers in Britain before the Second World War and served on the War Cabinet during it. He was in charge of the production of fighter aircraft which were instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain.
The Weslyan Methodist congregation in Maple was formed in 1833 and replaced their original frame building with a larger brick structure in 1870. The building incorporates gothic architecture which was very common on church buildings in the mid to late 1800s. The congregation joined the United Church of Canada in 1925 and continues to serve the community today as New Hope United.
The doorway is impressive with its dichromatic bricks and round window with decorative muntins. The pioneers would likely be surprised to find a security camera above the date stone.
The railway arrived in Maple in 1853 with the construction of a line that would change names several times, originally chartered as the Toronto, Simcoe and Huron Railroad. It would later be known as the Northern Railway, Grand Trunk Railway and finally was taken over by the Canadian National Railway. The station appears on the county atlas above as the Richmond Hill Station as it was originally known. The name was changed to the Maple Station when it was acquired by the Canadian National Railway. The station was replaced by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1903 when it was busy upgrading many of the older stations with grander designs.
There are dozens of other historical buildings in the Cultural Heritage District of Maple and you can read about them at this link.
Also see our recent story of the nearby ghost town of Sherwood.
Google Maps Link: Maple
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