History of Markham ON

The history of area of Markham Ontario goes back to 1000AD when the first settlers, the Iroquois people, came to the region. They lived in semi-permanent villages where they cultivated corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers supported by the fertile soil in the valley as well as the nearby river. The Iroquois called the river Katabokakonk, which translates to “river of easy entrance.” The river also took the Iroquois people up to the north country, opening up much of Canada to the first settlers.

It was not until the 17th century when the first European settlers would come to the region. The French were first to establish a colony in what is now Quebec City. More French settlers traveled along the shores of St. Lawrence River establishing several colonies. They continued further inland and came to settle on the lands where Markham City now stands. When they spotted the river Katabokakonk with its reddish water caused by the clay that lined its bank, the French settlers named it Riviere Rougue. Once settled in, the French pursued trade with the local Iroquois people, who were now a federation of five aboriginal tribes. Settlers bought fur from the locals. Relics of an ancient village were discovered at the mouth of River Rogue leading to the popular belief that it was one of the many indigenous settlements of the Iroquois.

After Britain won the Seven Years War with France, the French conceded their Colonies in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to the British. That’s how Canada came to fall under British rule. The British created the province of Quebec, which span outwards to the Ottawa River. However, the land where Markham stands today was demarcated to indigenous people including the aboriginal tribes. Later on, treaties were negotiated with the aboriginal people, allowing more English-speaking people to occupy the lands near Montreal.
Numerous historical events shaped Canada including the American Civil War and the implementation of the 1791 Constitutional Act that divided Canada into Lower Canada and Upper Canada, where Markham lies today. The division of the country led to the establishment of the township of Markham. The Governor would divide Markham Township into lots. The new township was bounded by Scarborough Town Line (renamed to Steeles Avenue) in the south, and the Whitchurch Town Line on the south.

Although Markham has since then outgrown its boundaries, agriculture remained a central economic activity in the area. After the union of Upper and Lower Canada, the Toronto and Nipissing Railway passed tough the town, opening it up to become the business hub we know today.