Box Grove is a community in the former geographical township of Markham in the County of York, Ontario, Canada (now the City of Markham in York Region). It is in the southeast corner of the township, south of the original Town of Markham and has a population (2011) of over 13,000.
A Middle Iroquian settlement existed on the west bank of a tributory of the Little Rouge Creek in the fourteenth century in the area which is today called Box Grove. In 1815, William Beebe was the first European settler in this area; Sparta or Sparty-Wharf (later Box Grove) was registered as a hamlet in 1850. The name suggests that at an early date there was boat traffic on the Rouge River. The hamlet changed to its present name during Canada's Confederation in 1867 when it was granted a post office. The origin of the name is unclear; it may be due to the activity at the box-making woodworking factory, a reference to the many boxwood trees around the hamlet, or linked to the hamlet of Box Grove in West Sussex, England. In 1867 the hamlet had "a Church, a schoolhouse, two taverns, woolen mill, sawmill, a store, a blacksmith and two axe-makers shops capable of supplying the whole country with axes and augurs on short notice."
The hamlet was the centre of local and small-scale industrial activity. A saw mill, cotton mill wool factory, and "shoddy mill" (for shredding old woolen fabrics for cheaper cloth and stuffing) along the banks of the Rouge River appeared after 1815. The working hamlet had a cheese factory, hotel, and three taverns for a population of 150 (1880); some neighbouring Mennonites had a "pessimistic" view of worldly Sparta, and sought to avoid travel in the hamlet. A Temperance House was opened in the 1860s by Joseph Lathrop on 14th Avenue. By the end of the nineteenth century the mills had closed (victims of floods and fire), and the White Rose Hotel and Tavern also closed its doors by 1910. While industry disappeared in Box Grove, the hamlet remained. The Box Grove General Store (6772 14th Avenue c. 1860), Box Grove Church (2 Legacy Drive c. 1870) and Box Grove Schoolhouse, S.S. #18 (7651 9th Line c.1870), are the only reminders of the once-vibrant hamlet (the Tomlinson family is buried in the church's graveyard). Many homes along 9th Line from north and south of 14th Avenue date to the mid to late 19th Century.
The area of the mills later became part of the IBM golf course (now Markham Green Golf Club), and more recently a residential development.
A few prominent families were part of Box Grove:
Today, Box Grove has undergone a transformation from protected agricultural land to residential use. Box Grove is located in the area around Ninth Line (also known as Box Grove By-Pass) and 14th Avenue. Residential development began in the late 1990s and continues today.
The Box Grove post office was lost in the early 20th century. The current post office is located inside the Rexall pharmacy at Ninth Line and Copper Creek Drive.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1915 are now available [October 2014]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books