Tag Archives: Markham Museum

Markham Museum

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Markham Museum is a 25-acre collection of historical buildings and artifacts that relate to the early history of Markham Township. There are close to 30 buildings which have been collected from various sites around the township over the past 50 years. Many of the buildings have had some restoration to preserve them. Seven of the buildings can be viewed from the inside as part of a guided tour that is free upon request with your paid admission. The museum is located at Markham Road and 16th Avenue. Just to the west of the museum is Markham Heritage Estates which is a subdivision made up of historic homes that have been moved from around the township to preserve them from demolition. These homes are lived in and can often be viewed inside during Open Doors events.

The oldest building in the museum was built in 1824 at McCowan and Stouffville Roads. Christian K Hoover and his wife Anna lived in this house followed by three more generations of the family. During the mid-1870s the house became a stopping point for Russian Mennonites as they emigrated west to Manitoba. In 1975 the house belonged to A.D. Reesor who donated it to the museum.

Inside the house is an open layout where kitchen, eating and sleeping areas are combined. The museum has decorated the home to look like the year 1860, at which time Christian’s son Abraham and his wife Fanny lived there with their three young children.

The blacksmith shop was built in 1862 by Henry Lapp in the village of Cedar Grove. Between 1866 and 1896 there were 9 different blacksmiths who worked in the Lapp blacksmith shop. Beginning in 1896 Arthur Clendenen took over and he bought the shop from Henry Lapp in 1905. He continued to work there until it closed in 1956. Cedar Grove plays a large part in the Markham Museum and the small community has been featured in several of our blogs in the past including Cedar Grove – Ghost towns of the GTA, Lapp’s Cider Mill, and Cedarena.

Inside, the blacksmith shop is set up to look like it did around 1910. Blacksmiths were important to early communities and there were usually one or more in each village. The blacksmith made horseshoes and installed them in addition to making and repairing all manner of tools. Everything from hammers to belt buckles was created in these little shops. The Cedar Grove blacksmith shop was moved to Markham Museum in 1977.

The Cider Mill at the museum was actually a shed on a property belonging to the Lapp Cider Mill in Cedar Grove. The shed was moved to the museum and outfitted with the inner workings of the Lapp Cider Mill which was built in 1872. The Lapp Cider Mill operated until 1955 producing apple cider, vinegar and apple butter. The cider mill at Markham Museum is operational and is in use every year during their annual Applefest, which this year takes place on September 24, 2022.

The church in the museum was moved from the 9th Line just north of Major Mackenzie Drive. It was built on an acre of land that was purchased from Joshua and Rachel Miller in 1847. The church was opened as Knox Baptist Church the following year and always had a small congregation. In the early years the church shared a minister with two other congregations and the pastor would only teach there every three weeks. By 1958 the congregation had shrunk to the point where the church was closed. In 1981 the church was disassembled and each of the 35,000 bricks were numbered and then reassembled on the museum site.

Most early churches had a drive shed where carriages and horses were kept while the church service was going on. There are very few of these left in their original locations and we have previously featured the one at the Cober Dunkard Church in Vaughan.

James and Euphemia Maxwell operated a grist mill on the Rouge River in the area that is now Rouge National Urban Park. They built a log cabin around 1850 and raised 6 children in it. When James died in 1894 the house and surrounding lands were sold but the cabin was used as a home until 1962 when the Little Family donated the cabin to the Markham Museum. It was moved to the museum site in 1970. The remains of the Maxwell Mill can still be seen along Twyn Rivers Road beside The Rouge River and were written about in the linked story.

Henry Wilson and Clementia May were husband and wife business partners in Markham in the 19th century. They opened a general store in Markham in 1862 and expanded into this building in 1875. Henry operated a variety store out of the first floor while Clementia ran a dress making business on the second floor. Dresses were usually custom designed and sewn in this era and her business was far more profitable than the store downstairs. In 1898 their son Edmund took over the business, but he closed it in 1913 and sold the building to Dr. John MacDonald. When the building was slated for demolition in 1985 it was moved to the museum.

There is a collection of moustache mugs in the Variety Hall. These mugs were invented in the mid 1800s by Harvey Adams in England. In Victorian times, many men wore large moustaches which they waxed or dyed in order to make them more impressive. The moustache mug contains a small moustache shaped ledge with a little hole to allow the men to drink tea without getting it in their moustaches.

Markham Museum is home to the Locust Hill train station which was built in 1936 to replace an earlier station that had burned down the previous year. The first station in the community had been built in 1885 by the Ontario and Quebec Railway which had been completed through town in 1887. Train service through Locust Hill was discontinued in 1969 and the station was moved to the museum in 1983. One of the interesting artifacts in the museum collection is the Canadian Pacific snowplow number 400896. This classic wedge snowplow weighs 20 tons and was built in the Canadian Pacific Angus workshops in Montreal between 1920 and 1929. It cleared a 10-foot path and had blades in the front to clear between the rails. These blades would be raised at intersections to avoid damaging the equipment.

Markham Museum has a fairly small entry fee set at only $6.00 for adults but doesn’t allow you to enter all of the buildings like other heritage villages such as Black Creek Pioneer Village. This is likely due to the lack of staff which, unfortunately, are required to preserve the antique displays to keep them from getting broken or going missing.

Related stories: Markham Heritage Estates, Maxwell’s Mill, Cedar Grove – Ghost Towns of the GTA, Lapp’s Cider Mill, Cedarena, Cober Dunkard Church, Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Google Maps Link: Markham Museum

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Markham Heritage Estates

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Markham has an old-age home for homes. Between 1981 and 1988 over 40 structures that were listed on the Markham Heritage Inventory were demolished to make way for construction projects. The citizens were upset and the city council decided to do something about it. They created the first heritage subdivision in the country. The Markham Heritage Estates were established in 1988 to provide a place for heritage homes that otherwise faced demolition. The first option is to retain the homes on their original site but this is not always possible. In those cases, the city has set aside 42 lots that it sells below market value to approved heritage homes. The savings in property price is used to encourage the homes to be moved and restored. For anyone with a keen interest in heritage homes a walk around this subdivision can be most enjoyable.

The section of the County Atlas below shows Markham Township in 1877. A small green rectangle marks the site of the Markham Heritage Estates. I looked up many of the homes in the subdivision and have marked them on the map. The lots marked in red contain homes that are featured in the article below. The lots marked in blue have had their home moved into Markham Heritage Estates. Several other homes in the estates have not been identified on the map due to a lack of information being available.

Houses arrive in the subdivision in various states of disrepair. There is one recent arrival that has several broken windows, holes in the roof and is missing the front porch. It will be interesting to see what this place looks like when the restoration team is finished with it.

The houses shown below are just a selection from the subdivision and are presented in order of age. All of them were on their respective lots when the county atlas was drawn in 1877. The Ambrose Nobel house is Georgian in style and was built in 1830 near the corner of Markham Road and 16th Avenue. The house belonged to the local tanner who operated his business on the same property. The most unusual feature of this home is the fact that it has two front doors. It is believed that Nobel used the door on the left as an entrance to his office for the tannery.

Peter Phillips (originally Phillipsen) built this lovely Gothic Revival home in 1835. Prior to this house being moved it was the last home remaining in the former community of Leek’s Corners.

Robert Gundy purchased the lot on which this house was built in 1818. After operating the farm for a few years he built this regency inspired home in 1840. Gundy was a reformer who is listed as having supported William Lyon Mackenzie in the rebellion of 1837. Gundy died in 1867 after which the house was occupied by Edward Sanderson.

Also constructed in 1840 is the house of Peter G. Mustard. It is a simple 3 bay Georgian style home that was moved the the Heritage Estates in 2003 in preparation for a realignment of the 9th line.

Joachim Pingle emigrated from Germany in 1794 and settled in Markham as one of the first Berczy Settlers. Jacob Pingle who was his son built a gothic revival style house in 1840 that had a wrap around veranda on three sides. It is a rare example of a home with the main entrance on the end, shown, rather than on the long side.

David Leek built this house in 1840 in the former community of Dollar. It is unusual in that it is one of very few examples of second empire style in the township of Markham. The mansard roof is the key architectural component of this style of building where the roof forms part of the upper walls. David Leek was a prominent member of the Headford Methodist Church which was known as Leek’s Chapel at one time.

The Udell-Hamilton house was built in 1850 for Mary Udell and her four children. It originally stood on a lot just south of Stouffville that had belonged to her husband Mathew. He was accused of printing counterfeit money for the Markham Gang and had been arrested and jailed in 1845. The house was sold in 1871 to Abraham Hamilton who converted the story and a half home into a full two stories and added the two bays at the front. This is one of my favourite homes in this little enclave.

David Gohn built this regency style one and a half story cottage in 1855 on Leslie Street near Highway 7. Of all the houses in the subdivision it is the one which was relocated here first and perhaps was moved the farthest of all the rescued heritage homes.

James Thomas used elements of the regency cottage and the Georgian style in 1856 when he built this home. It has an interesting window under the front gable. It has the over-all rounded shape of the Italianate style with pointed arches within that are Gothic in design. The combination of four major design styles makes this one of the more unique homes in Markham.

John McCreight built this two story farm house in 1874. This house is unusual in that it has a T section that comes out of the side instead of the back of the house. This puts both the front and back doors on the same side of the house. A nice wrap around veranda connects the two entrances.

The Google Earth capture from 2002 shows how few homes have been moved in during the first 14 years and how they have been concentrated at the north end of the site. To the east is the Markham Museum and Historic Village where another 30 historic buildings are preserved including homes, barns, a saw mill, train station and church. It is currently closed and will definitely be on the “to-do” list.

The Google Earth image from 2018 shows how much the subdivision has filled in. The new arrival that is waiting for restoration will fill in the last vacant spot in the middle loop. The loop at the top is known as David Gohn Circle and has an information sign on each of the little islands in the middle. These give the descriptions of the houses on the street as well as a brief history. I hope that will be completed on the second loop when all the lots have been filled. It makes the subdivision all the more interesting.

Markham Heritage Estates can be enjoyed as a walk around but it is most popular during Markham Doors Open events when you can visit the insides of the buildings.

Google Maps Link: Markham Heritage Estates

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