1784 was a tumultuous year for what is now Ontario, with the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees to an unfamiliar land. Treaties had to be signed with the First Nations. Treaties which can still be fluid today. The land was soon divided into townships, crisscrossed by concession lines and sideroads. Small hamlets providing services to these new inhabitants sprang up at crossroads or places where water mills could be built. Markham was one such township with hamlets at Thornhill, Unionville, Buttonville and Markham.
Today’s Markham with its urbanization, high-tech industry, and fast-paced life would have seemed as a sci-fi novel to those former dwellers of this agricultural landscape. The countryside is all but gone, although museums and parks keep a memory of what was once the norm. Yet, city dwellers do like to visit the countryside and this short tour may give a glimpse of this different world. How you use the tour is a personal choice. You may like to walk the trails, explore the settlements or just go for the drive.
For most of the drive, you will be in the Oak Ridge Moraine … this landscape which in the last 20 years has become more widely known to the general public. The Moraine is made of materials deposited at various times, and in varying ways, during and after the last Ice Age.
The early European settlers understood the Moraine’s quirks. Your farmland could consist of either clay, loam, sand, gravel or a mixture of all. Boulders of various sizes scattered the landscape. It was luck whether, on clearing the forest, you and your descendants would have a rich farm or one that was sandy and useless. The Regional Forests have been planted where the land was especially sandy.
These Forests now provide refuges for wildlife and places for people to enjoy various forms of recreation. Likewise, where steep slopes were once a hindrance to farming, ski runs have been developed. The Moraine is known for its natural water cleaning abilities and this route will show you one such spring.
Testimonials to these early European settlers lie scattered along the route, whether churches, houses, field boundaries or the small historic hamlets. One such church is Pine Grove which has been used in filming a production of ‘Road to Avonlea’. While on the subject of Anne of Green Gables’, therein lies a story. The tales of this young girl, Anne, are set in the Province of Prince Edward Island but many of the books were written in Leaksdale, Ontario where LM Montgomery lived as a minister’s wife, a rather cloistered role in the early C20th.
There are two small towns along the way, Stouffville and Uxbridge, joined by the volunteer-run York Durham Heritage Railway. Each town can make for a pleasant stop.
But back to farming, in the summer and fall, you will pass roadside stands selling local produce … the freshest vegetables that you could wish for.Explore this piece of Ontario’s land, rich in history, geography, recreation and those tasty gifts of the soil.
Explore this piece of Ontario’s land, rich in history, geography, recreation and those tasty gifts of the soil.
A countryside drive from the City of Markham
105 km 2 hours driving
- Begin at the intersection of Highway 7 and Main Street Unionville; Drive north on Main Street Unionville through the old village centre
- Turn right (east) onto Carlton Road
Help hint – the Varley Art Gallery of Markham and the Rouge Valley Trail are at or near this intersection.
- Turn left (north) onto Kennedy Road (RR3)(traffic lights); cross 16th Ave (RR 73); cross Major Mackenzie Dr (RR 25); pass on left Angus Glen Golf Club (twice used for the Canadian Open); cross Elgin Mills Rd; cross 19th Ave; You enter the Oak Ridge Moraine and will remain in it for most of this drive; look for the rolling landscape; cross Stouffville Road (RR14); Side trip to left (west) for 1.3 km to visit Bruce’s Mill C.A. (entrance fee)
- Turn right (east) onto Bethesda SR; Help hint – you will notice the numerous ponds along this stretch of road. This is a natural phenomenon. The houses have been referred to as the ‘Floating Mansions of Lemonville’ ; cross McCowan Rd on a left/right jog in the route; Side trip to right (south) for 1.5 km to visit Applewood Farm and Winery
- Turn right (south) onto Markham Rd (Hwy 48)
- Turn left (east) onto Bethesda SR; pass on left Willow Springs Winery
- Turn right (south) onto 9th Line (RR 69); cross Bayberry St at a roundabout; cross Millard St (traffic lights)
- Turn left (east) onto Main St (Stouffville Rd) and drive through the town of Stouffville
pass on left the southern terminus of the York Durham Heritage Railway; cross Reesor Rd/10th Line
- Turn left onto York / Durham Line (RR 30)(T-junction)
- Turn right (east) onto Webb Rd; You have now left York Region and are in Durham Region; cross 2nd Concession (historic hamlet of Glasgow); cross West Duffin’s Creek; cross 3rd Concession; cross 4th Concession
- Turn left (north) onto Brock Rd (RR1)(T-junction); pass on right ‘Pathways on Pleasure Valley’ (horse back riding)
- Turn right (east) onto Allbright Rd
- Turn left (north) onto Concession 6 (T-junction); pass on left an entrance to Durham Regional Forest (North Walker Woods) (limited roadside parking)
- Turn right (east) onto Goodwood Rd (RR 21) (no sign; busy road)
- Turn right (south) onto Concession 7 (traffic lights); Side trip – turn left (north) for 400 m to see Pine Grove Church (1878); pass on left two entrances to Durham Regional Forest (Main Tract)(parking); road curves to the right and then to the left; pass on right parking area for East Walker Woods; Trailhead of East Duffin’s Creek Headwaters; winding road
- Turn left (east) onto Chalk Lake Rd; Side trip – straight ahead for 500 m to see Glen Major Church (1873); winding road; pass on left Skyloft Ski Resort; pass on left Lakeridge Ski Resort; pass on left parking lot for Chalk Lake Spring (for spring-fed water)
17 Turn left (north) onto Lake Ridge Rd (RR 23); pass on left Houston Rd; cross Goodwood Rd (RR21) (traffic lights); pass on left Reid Rd; pass on right Line 6; pass on left Wagg Rd; cross Medd Rd / Foxfire Chase; pass on right Line 8 (Ward Rd)
18 Turn left (west) onto Reach Rd (RR 8)(traffic lights)
19 Turn right (north) onto Main St (RR1)(Uxbridge)
20 Turn left (west) onto Brock St.(traffic lights); Side trip – continue straight on Main St and drive 5.6 km to see the Foster’s Memorial and 10.9 km to Leaksdale for the Lucy Maude Montgomery Museum; cross Toronto St (traffic lights); pass on right Railway St; Side Trip – turn right for the northern terminus of the York Durham Heritage Railway
21 Turn left (south) onto Conc. Rd 6 at a roundabout; Side trip – turn right onto Conc. Rd 6 for Uxbridge Historical Centre Museum; pass on right historic Quaker Meeting House (a faith building, similar to a church); cross heritage railway tracks
22 Turn right (west) onto RR47(traffic lights); road curves left (south); cross Wagg Rd; road curves right (west) … and pass on left RR1 (Brock Rd); cross Concession 4; pass on left Richters Herbs; cross Concession 3 in hamlet of Goodwood (TV’s Schitt’s Creek); cross heritage railway; pass on left Goodwood Rd (RR 21)(traffic lights); cross Concession 2; cross York Durham Line (RR 30); You now leave Durham Region and re-enter York Region; the road is now Bloomington Rd (RR40); cross 9th Line; cross Hwy 48; cross McCowan Road
23 Turn left (south) onto Kennedy Rd (traffic lights); cross Bethesda SR; cross Stouffville Rd; You will leave the Oak Ridge Moraine; cross 19th Ave; cross Elgin Mills Rd; cross Major Mackenzie Dr; cross 16th Ave
24 Arrive at Kennedy Rd and Hwy 7 in Markham