Parkway Avenue was a Farm Lane
In 1926 Albert Lewis purchased the eastern portion of the Robinson Farm located north of Markham Street. The lane in the centre of the farm is now Parkway Avenue. William Robinson had left in his will that the western portion of the farm would go to his daughters. This portion is where Grace Church and Morgan Park are currently situated, along with the brick farm house currently situated at the north east corner of Parkway and Orchard Street. The barn and remainder of the farm (170 Acres) was in the ownership of his two sons. When the Robinson boys sold their portion to Albert Lewis, who was a local merchant on the Main Street, there was no house, so they lived in a rented house on Wales Avenue in the village, and commuted to work on the farm.
In those days, many houses had a small barn behind them, large enough for a sleigh, a buggy and a stall or two for a horse. There was usually room for a cow as well. Upstairs was a loft used for the storage of hay and straw which would have been purchased from a local farmer. An example of one of these barns still stands on Markham Street on the back end of the property at ?? Church Street.
During the depression, many of these barns became redundant. Mr. Lewis purchased the barn behind the Snider Residence and with steam engine and a Sawyer Massey tractor, dragged it from the back of the property, south on Main Street and east on the farm lane to a point which is now about the middle of Parkway Ave., just west of Strathroy Ave. Mr. Lewis built an addition onto the front for a parlor. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, as well as his daughter and son, Audrey and Carman Lewis, slept in the loft upstairs.
“Audrey and I would climb the ladder nailed on the 2 x 4’s to go to bed.” Recalls Carman Lewis. “It was cold up there in the winter. I remember waking up one morning and my feet were covered in snow that had blown in through a crack around the window. It seems pretty rustic now, but I don’t remember being hard done by.”
The summer days were spent working the farm, but on rainy days, Mr. Lewis with the help of his hired hands, would work on building the house which now stands at 27 Parkway Ave. It was originally a vacant house on the Rigfoot Farm at the 10th Line and 16th Avenue, about where the current Markham Bypass meets 16th Avenue. By the early 1930’s the house was finished and the Lewis family moved in along with sufficient rooms for the help to board.
When Carman Lewis graduated from the Markham High School (Located at 55 Albert Street) he founded the Markham Dairy and used their former house as the bottling plant, but that’s another story.
For a historic link to 27 Parkway, click here . The original house is on the left, 27 Parkway is in the centre, and 41 Maple St. is on the right. 41 Maple St. was built as The Markham Dairy, with an appartment above for Carman Lewis and his wife Margaret.