About main street

“Suddenly more chic than shabby, Main Street Newmarket is undergoing an exciting renaissance.
Trendy boutiques, unique products ranging from exquisite hand-crafted jewelry to scrumptious imported chocolates, antiques, art and a newly opened upscale restaurant are just some of the reasons to venture downtown these days.
After decades of struggling against the lure of Upper Canada Mall and Yonge Street’s big box stores, the beleaguered town centre is coming into its own once again, marking a consumer trend favouring more personalized service and one-of-a-kind products.

The welcoming smiles of store owners as you open their doors, the sidewalks adorned with colourful, overflowing flower baskets, gaily fluttering Canadian flags and friendly passersby perhaps speak to something more important: a backlash against the cookie-cutter anonymity of suburbia that is heralding the return of Main Street as the heart of the community, not only here, but across the country.

Newmarket Town Councillor Bob Kwapis, whose ward includes the downtown area, is a tireless cheerleader for the emerging centre.

“I have lived in Newmarket most of my life, no other place I want to be. I have seen the downtown in all its cycles and it makes me proud of the way it has evolved now. I think it has become the “go to” place for dining out in the Newmarket area.” – Reece V., Newmarket, ON (tripadvisor.ca)



Did you know?

Newmarket’s location on the Holland River long made the area a natural route of travel between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe. A major portage route, the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, ran one of its two routes down the Holland, through the Newmarket area, and over the Oak Ridges Moraine to the Rouge and into Lake Ontario.

Main Street History

Newmarket is unique from other municipalities north of Toronto, in that our Main Street is not Yonge Street. Main Street originated from an Indian Trail in the 1800’s. That is one of the reasons that is so narrow and kind of crooked.

Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church

Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church was built in 1874, designed by Sharon Architect John T Stokes. The large addition to the rear which includes the new sanctuary was built in 1992. The addition is very sympathetic to the original Architechture.Among the notable features of both the old and the new sections are the yellow bricks with red brick highlights around openings and the Gothic style windows.

Presbyterian Church

Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church was built in 1874, designed by Sharon Architect John T Stokes. The large addition to the rear which includes the new sanctuary was built in 1992. The addition is very sympathetic to the original Architecture. Among the notable features of both the old and the new sections are the yellow bricks with red brick highlights around openings and the Gothic style windows.

The Cawthra Building

The Cawthra building was built in 1830 by the Cawthra family. They had an earlier store and trading post on the exact same site but it burnt down. In the 1865 The Cawthra Family opened Newmarket’s very first bank in this very building. Danforth Roche’s General Store was here from 1876 to 1923.

William Roe’s Trading Post

William Roe’s Trading Post was located here in 1814. William Roe owned from Water Street to timothy Street. He had a large white Frame House located where the Antique Mall is today. It was a split level, one level faced Main Street, The other level faced the river. His store, trading post and the village post office occupied the corner of Water and Main. William Roe was the Post Master. Indians pulled canoes loaded with furs up to his docks on the river and walked straight up to the trading post. In those days the Holland River could be canoed all the way down from lake Simcoe.

Fairy Lake

Across Water Street is Fairy Lake. It was here that Joseph Hill the first miller to locate in Newmarket dammed up the River. Hill arrived here in 1801 with Timothy Rogers and his Quakers. His first mill was grinding wheat before the end of 1801. In later years the lake was a center of industry, with tanneries and mills around its shores.

The King George Hotel

The King George Hotel once known as the Forsyth House and The Railroad Hotel was built in 1845, by James Forsyth it replaced an earlier hotel owned by fur traders Roe and Borland. It was a stagecoach stop in its earliest days as were most hotels. When the Radial line came through Town in 1899, the tracks were built right up the middle of Main Street and the hotel became known as The Newmarket Terminal later it was used as the Grey Coach Bus Terminal. Until the early 40’s it boasted a large dining room in the South wing and a snack bar at the west entrance. The barn at the rear of the building was originally used to house the horses and later the buses were kept there.

The Office Specialty Manufacturing Company

The Office Specialty Manufacturing Company was set up in Newmarket in 1895. Throughout its history the company constructed a series of industrial buildings on the Holland River Flats. They stretched from Water Street to Timothy Street and then they build on the other side of Timothy Street. The Principal Factory Building was demolished in 1971 after a fire in 1971. The long narrow two storey structure at 543 Timothy Street was constructed in 1912 and enlarged in 1930. It is now the Specialty Lofts.

The Robert Simpson Store

The Robert Simpson Store (BackYard Birder) Robert Simpson opened his first business with partner William Trent on this corner in 1858. In 1871 he moved to Toronto (York), founding the department store chain The Robert Simpson Co. He lived on Botsford Street in a house which has been fully restored.

The Widdifield Building

Built in 1879 by JH Widdifield. This 2nd Empire Style Building is a one of a kind in Newmarket. It was constructed to accommodate Woodsfield’s Law Office on the upper storey and to house a Dry Goods Store for his son in law, Walter W Playter on the Main Floor. Playter operated a successful business during the 1880’s. Throughout its history the building is often referred top as Reformer Block or The Playter building. It has been used for various Law Offices, a police station and the Municipal offices.

The Town Hall

The Town Hall was built in 1883 in market Square. It was originally a meeting place for the municipality and it also housed the Farmer’s Market on the lower level. the Old Town Hall has had various uses over the years, including the police Station (the cells are still in there) and the court house. The structure was thorourghly renovated as a Centennial project in 1982. The original yellow bricks were cleaned and the dominant Bell Tower was replaced.

Market Square

The first Market was held here in 1811, Newmarket was a bustling community at this time. People would come up from York to trade and buy vegetables, wheat and other stables. They came by train at first, then radial cars and finally automobiles.

The Sovereign Bank Building

The Sovereign Bank Building was built in 1902, by Thomas Lloyd to house the Sovereign Bank. From1906 to 1936 it housed the bank of Toronto. It was then purchased by Dr. J H Wesley and became known as the Wesley Block. The building sits on the site of the North American Hotel which was demolished in 1898. The North American Hotel was a coaching house where William Lyon MacKenzie made an important pre-rebellion speech in August of 1837 to rally the troops.

The Caldwell Block

The Caldwell Block (the maid’s cottage), in 1864 Robert Simpson and partner M W Bogart moved their business here. It was burnt out in October 1870, and reopened two months later. In 1871 Robert Simpson left to open his department store in Toronto.

William n Starr Building

William n Starr Building (changes) was constructed in 1863, this building was first used as a hardware store, It was used as a telephone exchange in 1910, from 1919 to 1945 it was Theodore Bolton’s Bakery followed by Elman Campbell’s stationery and china business.

Charles Hargrave Simpson Building

Ontario’s first woman druggist operated an apothecary here from 1886 to 1914. The building was built in 1850.

The Methodist Church

The Methodist Church was constructed in 1879, and was significantly enlarged in 1911, with a massive addition to the west. At which time the original two front entrances were replaced one lower one. In 1925 the church became The Trinity United Church with the establishment of the United Church Of Canada. The building is built of Yellow brick with a stone rubble foundation. Among its many notable architectural features are its prominent cable windows and its patterned brick designs. For many years it had a horse fountain on the front lawn. It was removed in the 1950’s.

The Col. Lloyd House

This Romanesque style residence was built in 1890 by Col Thomas H Lloyd, who was a veterinary in Town. It was also once the residence of Dr. JH Wesley; he built the addition on the side for his medical practice. Following a tragic fire in 1986 the building was bought and restored by Wray and Glen Playter. Among its notable architectural features are its prominent arches, found both in the entrance way and in the first and second storey windows and the projecting brick lines which offset the height of the house.

Roadhouse and Rose

Roadhouse and Rose was originally two separate buildings. The JH Millard Block (the north building) was built in 1891, for Millard’s cabinetmaking and undertaking business. It was remodeled in the 1920’s in a Tudor Style after being purchased by N J Roadhouse who relocated his business from the corner of Queen and Main. The Newmarket Era building (the south section) was built in 1875 and destroyed by fire in 1957. at this time the north section was remodeled and the south section rebuilt to its present appearance. Now owned by the Playter family it is the oldest business in town.

Dr. William G Hutt

Dr. William G Hutt home and practice. This building was the first hospital in York County. It had six beds and was opened in 1922 by drs. Lowell Dales and JH Wesley; it was the forerunner to York County Hospital.

The Royal Hotel

Built in 1852 by Dr. Orin Ford, it was newmarket’s best Hostelry in the late 19th Century. The telegraph office was here in 1853.

The Christian Baptist Church

The Christian Baptist Church was built in 1874 it is the oldest Church in Town. It was the third building for the Christian Church. It was built by local Jacob Johnson and designed by John T Stokes. Built from local white grey bricks with ornate red brick decoration, It went through a series of exterior renovations concluding with white stucco. It was designated a historical site under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1989.

The Registry Office

The North York Registry office was constructed by The County in 1884. It was designed by john T Stokes. It is the only 19th century registry office left in York Region. Built in a classical revivalist style, it sits on a foundation of cut stone and has a slate roof. No wood was used in the construction of this building, making it totally fire proof. It has a prominent three bay façade with a centre door. It was designated an historic site under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1987. It is now the home of The Elman Campbell Museum.