Constructed in 1871 and designed to a basic standard plan by the Toronto and
Nipissing Railway Company, the Markham Train Station was the public
interface for a railway line that was an important link in fostering the
local and regional economy in the late 19th century. The full extent of the
railway was 78 miles from Toronto to Coboconk. It was the first publicly
operated narrow gauge railway in North America.
When the Toronto and Nipissing incorporated in 1868, the Township of Markham
offered a subsidy of $30,000 to route the line within its boundaries. In
exchange for the contribution, Markham received two stations.
The station soon had a new owner. By 1885, it had become part of the Grand
Trunk Railway system. In 1898, the station was remodelled. It was at this
time that the passenger end of the building was clad is narrow clapboard
siding and a stylish conductor's bay was added.
Within ten years, a freight extension of board and batten cladding added 31
feet to the southern end. Times were good for the station.
However, by the 1980's, the station had been crudely altered, poorly reclad
and badly maintained. Conditions were so bad that GO Transit (the
inter-regional transit authority) which had leased part of the station,
relocated its operations to a small kiosk building. By the early 1990's the
owner, CN Rail was looking to rid itself of this liability.
The Markham Village Conservancy took on the role of spearheading the
fundraising for the restoration project.
Chartered in 1998, the Markham Village Conservancy (MVC) is a citizen group
that initiates projects that advance its mandate to strengthen the sense of
community in Markham Village; to preserve the quality of life in the
Village; and to conserve the heritage and natural elements of the Village.
The Markham Village Train Station Restoration project was the founding
project of the MVC. The management of the restored train station is one of
the primary activities of the MVC today. The MVC was the lead organization
in the inaugural and second years of Doors Open Markham, a town-wide open
house of signigicant heritage resources in Markham, held each year in
August. The Conservancy continues to be involved with the revitalization of
Main Street Markham including the process to redesign the area north of 16th