Markham is a suburban city directly north of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. It includes the historic village of Unionville, which is now a heritage district, and can offer the traveller some cheaper accommodation options if you don't mind the distance from the attractions of Toronto.
Markham is host to a wide variety of technology company headquarters, which included video card maker ATI Technologies, Motorola, IBM Software Labs and Sun Microsystems (with the exact list prone to change as companies are acquired by rivals). The Town's slogans 'The Mark of Excellence' and 'Canada's High Tech Capital' are well emphasized, with a multicultural community, a variety of events and attractions, and an embracement of old town nostalgia and modern high-tech living.
Public transit access to Markham typically begins in Toronto, either in the form of TTC or GO Transit (stops in Markham on the Stouffville line include Milliken, Unionville, Centennial and Markham). York Region Transit also has numerous routes that operate in Markham, with connections for buses heading north to Newmarket and East Gwillimbury and south towards Toronto.
If you are visiting Pacific Mall and Market Village, the cheapest way to access these malls by transit is via TTC route #53 (Steeles East) which departs from Finch Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. If you are travelling in the east-end, TTC route #43 (Kennedy) going north from Kennedy Station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line and Scarborough RT line may be more useful for you. If you are nearer to Union Station in downtown Toronto and it's rush hour, a direct GO Train to Milliken station may be faster.
Unsurprisingly for a suburb, most travel is typically done by private automobile, with numerous highways and arterials leading in and out of the town.
Highway 404 goes north to south, starting at Green Lane in East Gwillimbury and ending in Toronto as the Don Valley Parkway.
Going from east to west is the privately-held toll Highway 407, which begins in the east at Brock Road and ends 108 kilometres west in Burlington. The 407 is the most overpriced toll road in North America, per kilometre; this road is problematic for rental car drivers as the inflated bill is sent to the vehicle's owner. Alternatives are old Highway 7 (a very busy local east-west surface street) or a trip south on the 404 to Toronto to pick up Ontario Highway 401, Canada's busiest freeway.
The main street of Markham is nominally Markham Road (old Highway 48). There is a small downtown, which is largely lost in all the Toronto suburban sprawl.
Like the rest of the Greater Toronto Area, Markham is laid out in grid fashion. The main east-west local avenues in Markham (from north to south) are Stouffville Road, Elgin Mills Road East, Major Mackenzie Drive East, Highway 7, 14th Avenue and then Steeles Avenue East which is the border between Markham and Toronto. Most businesses are located on Highway 7 and Steeles Avenue East.
From west to east, the major roads are Yonge Street (border between Markham and Vaughan), Bayview Avenue, Leslie Street, Woodbine Avenue, Warden Avenue, Kennedy Road, McCowan Road, Markham Road (sometimes known as Highway 48) and then Ninth Line.
If you are travelling by public transit, three transit agencies operate within Markham: YRT, GO Transit, and TTC (see the Get In section). The visitor will likely find the YRT route #1, Viva Purple, Viva Pink (Viva is YRT's bus rapid transit brand) and TTC route #53 to be the most useful routes in Markham. These bus routes typically have very good service frequencies, with buses coming at least every 15-20 minutes. Though the first three routes stop running around 1AM, TTC route #53 has overnight service from 2AM to 5AM, coming every 30 minutes. Rush hour frequencies are particularly good for this route (every 3-5 minutes), reflecting the fact that it is the 19th busiest TTC bus route out of 148.
- Pacific Mall, 4300 Steeles Ave. E, ☎ +1 905 470-8785, e-mail: email@example.com. at Steeles and Kennedy Intersection. Year round including holidays. Su-Th 11AM-8PM, F,Sa, 11AM-9PM. Pacific Mall is the largest Chinese indoor mall in North America with 400 stores selling a large variety of retail goods as well as herbs, prepared Chinese foods and entertainment. This is a great place to visit for cheap DVDs, computer parts, photography equipment, cellphone accessories and the like.
- Market Village, 4390 Steeles Ave. E, ☎ +1 905 940-2243, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. at Steeles and Kennedy Intersection. Year round including holidays. Every day 11AM-8PM. Market Village was the original Chinese indoor mall before Pacific Mall became popular next door. Though smaller than its neighbour and no longer the central hub of the Chinese community as it was a decade or two ago, Market Village still has numerous popular stores and restaurants within. During Chinese New Year and other holidays, the mall is packed with visitors and other festive-goers. Try a bowl of wonton noodles at Wonton Time (absolutely divine, $4.50) and then get a freshly-made 'dan guen' for dessert (HK-style sweet egg roll, ~$3) at Tung Tung Dan Quen King. The freshly-made soya bean milk and soya bean pudding at Yan Woo Soya Bean Foods are delicious as well.
- Markham Theatre for Performing Arts - Anthony Roman Centre, 171 Town Centre Blvd (by the Markham Town Centre), ☎ +1 905-305-SHOW (7469), toll-free: +1-866-768-8801. Live theatre.
Unionville is a historic village that developed in the 1840s in what was then rural Markham Township. It's now amalgamated into city of Markham but the quaint period buildings have been preserved as a heritage conservation district, Main Street Unionville. Many of the old buildings now house pubs, eateries or other small businesses, and the area is worth a stop if you're in the area and have some time.
The heritage district is north of Highway 7 which intersects Main Street Unionville at a traffic light. On the north side of the intersection there are signs marking the entrance to the district. There is parking off Carlton Road on the south side, east of Main Street. York Regional Transit operates a Viva Blue express route from Finch Station on the Toronto subway to the Richmond Hill Centre Terminal. From there, the YRT route 1 bus runs to Main Street Unionville; cross the street to enter the heritage district. TTC fares are not valid on Viva/YRT buses (and vice-versa) but one may transfer between Viva and YRT freely.
From Highway 7 north to the railway grade crossing, Main Street is lined with elegant old houses which are private residences. From the railway grade crossing north to Carlton Road, Main Street is commercial with most businesses having a tourist orientation. Many of the businesses are located in former houses. Station Lane branches from Main Street just north of the railway grade crossing and has a few old residences as well as the former Unionville railway station and Stiver Mill; the latter two buildings serve a community functions today.
- Former Unionville railway station. Built as an intercity rail station in the 1800s, the last trains stopped here in 1991. The City of Markham now owns the historic railway station and uses it for community functions.
- Queen’s Hotel. The 150-year old Queen’s Hotel building was unfortunately damaged by fire in March, 2015. As of August 2015, the building was boarded up and fenced off; however, its distinctive exterior is still mostly intact.
- Stiver Mill. Today, the City of Markham owns the mill and uses it for community functions. Oddly, the historic plaque for the mill is located where Eureka Street crosses the railway line almost out of sight of the mill.
- Toogood Pond. A park with a large pond.
- Unionville Planing Mill. There is an old water wheel at the north-east corner of the former mill which is used today for a restaurant and shops.
- Varley Art Gallery of Markham. The gallery has a small collection of art on display. free.
- Club 300 Bowl, 146 Old Kennedy Road. 24/7. Bowling Alley/Arcade that's open 24/7. Has a ton of games for a reasonable price.
- Unionville Village Festival - first weekend of June
- Unionville Heritage Festival - Labour Day
- Olde Tyme Christmas Candlelight Parade - first Friday of December
- Markham Jazz Festival - August
- Thursday Nights at the Bandstand - all summer long
- Doors Open Markham - usually autumn
- Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph - Nov. 11
- Old Firehall Confectionary, B170 Main St Unionville. Chocolate lovers should at least look inside at the various fancy chocolates on display.
Markham has a large variety of foods to choose from in a variety of price ranges. The Chinese population is especially high in this area (~40% in the last census), so if you enjoy Chinese food, this is the place to look for it!
- Congee Queen, 2930 Steeles Ave E, ☎ +1 905-731-3880. 10:30AM-12AM M-Th, 10:30-1AM F-Sa, 10:00AM-12AM Su. Always a perennial weekend favourite. Named after the Chinese breakfast dish, the restaurant also serves many other stir-fried dishes, rice plates and soup noodles. Do try and share the Seafood & Chicken with Wintermelon Super Bowl Congee with a friend. Cheap.
- Hunan Garden Restaurant, 3636 Steeles Avenue E., ☎ +1 905-948-8855. This authentic Hunanese restaurant is delicious, with chefs cooking up local flavours that you clearly can tell aren't just some weird Cantonese version. The menu is a smorgasbord of unusual, so be adventurous and try things you would normally never get. They also have a cheap non-big-brand beer on tap ($2.50/pint, also pitchers) which is surprisingly palatable when soaked up with spicy food. Staff speaks limited non-Mandarin, so if you can, try to bring a Mandarin speaker with you, $10-15 per dish at dinner. They also do a $5 lunch dish/rice plate.
- Wonton Time, 4390 Steeles Ave E, ☎ +1 905-477-8882. open lunch/dinner. This restaurant will make you understand what a good bowl of wonton noodles tastes like. Perhaps not as good as Jim Chai Kee in Richmond Hill but also not as sketch sanitary-wise either. Try the wonton/beef 'ho fun'. Located near the back of Market Village by the supermarket in the rear. $5.
- Bagahon, 4300 Steeles Ave E. Great Singaporean food for cheap, they make it right in front of you, and the whole menu is nothing but healthy options. For a much-loved Singaporean dish try Hainan chicken rice, though their grilled salted shrimp is a personal favourite, and quite inexpensive. Kaya toast is also pretty great if you're looking for something sweeter. $5.
- Akasaka (Sushi and Tepanyaki)
- Mill Bar & Grill (Unionville Planing Mill). Pub with patio.
- Jakes on Main, 202 Main St (Main Street Unionville). Patio.
- Comfort Inn Toronto Northeast, 8330 Woodbine Ave, ☎ +1 905-477-6077, fax: +1 905-477-9664.
- Delta Markham, 50 East Valhalla Dr, ☎ +1 905-477-2010, toll-free: +1-888-890-3222, fax: +1 905-477-2026. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
- Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Markham, 300 Commerce Valley Dr East, ☎ +1-905-709-8008, fax: +1-905-709-6008.
- Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa, 8500 Warden Ave, ☎ +1-905-470-8500, fax: +1-905-477-8611.
|Routes through Markham|
|Newmarket ← Richmond Hill ←||N S||→ Toronto → END|
|Kitchener ← Richmond Hill ← becomes ←||W E||→ Pickering → Peterborough|
|END ← Whitchurch-Stouffville ←||N S||→ Scarborough → Toronto|