Newmarket is a growing suburban town north of Toronto with a reputation for its warm, small-town atmosphere and its careful urban planning.
Recent efforts to revitalize its historic downtown area have been tremendously successful, and planning efforts will ensure that the town’s continued growth will not encroach on its parochial charm.
Past Meets Present
Newmarket’s downtown area is known as the Main Street Heritage Conservation District. For over a century, it has been the site of vibrant local businesses and community culture. Many of the buildings have been preserved from as far back as the 19th century, and Newmarket vigorously encourages locally-owned and operated businesses to take root there.
While this area has been the focus of commercial activity in the past and present, there was a period in the middle where its Main Street character all but died out.
Newmarket was originally founded as a Quaker settlement of 19th century Americans who were unhappy with the violence of the American Revolutionary War. Joseph Hill constructed a mill along the Holland River, damming part of it to become what is now known as Fairy Lake.
This area became the center of village activity and business. A tannery, store, distillery and more mills were built soon after. Local artisans and farmers formed a market in the downtown area a block away from Yonge Street, which became the basis for the town to be named “Newmarket.”
The growth of Toronto spurred concurrent growth in Newmarket. By the 1950s Newmarket became a booming suburban community for Toronto with the population doubling to 11,000 by 1970.
In 1974, the Upper Canada Mall was built. It helped bring growth and renewed attention to the west side of Newmarket, but at the expense of smaller, more unique businesses downtown. By the 1980s, Newmarket recognized the need to re-invest in their downtown area to avoid the town becoming a cluster of strip malls and big box chain stores.
This project was a minor success, but in 2004 a larger $2.3 million investment was made to completely revitalize the storefronts, sidewalks and infrastructure.
Now, downtown Newmarket is once again a blissful taste of past charms with modern amenities. Strip mall retail space and big box chain construction is limited to certain areas away from the Yonge corridor to preserve these qualities.
Living in Newmarket
Today Newmarket is one of the most enjoyable places to live in all of Canada. “MoneySense” magazine
even named it number four out of the top 10 best small cities in the country. Ecological and historical preservation make the area ideal for people who like a lot of personality in their town.
Residents enjoy facilities such as the Riverwalk Commons Park, where they can enjoy playing fields, an ice skating pond, a Community Centre, a Farmer’s Market, playgrounds, an extensive trail system, meeting areas and a performance pavilion for local events, festivals and concerts.
With three local community theatres and many competitive and recreational sports leagues, there is no shortage of activities to partake in. The Newmarket Public library is home to over 175,000 items, and they often arrange special programs and events throughout the year.
Most residents commute to Toronto on the Barrie Line GO Train service, the York Regional Transit System or via highways 400 and 404. Plenty of major businesses also call Newmarket home.
Allied International Credit, Snap-On Tools, Cintas, Rockets Candy Company, Flextronics, Effem Foods and many others offer local employment opportunities that eliminate the need for a long commute.
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