The population of Newmarket was about 600 in 1841, about 2000 in 1900, under 20,000 in 1971 and 80,000 in 2011.
Ontario GenWeb has a sketchmap of the original townships of York County and York GenWeb provides another sketchmap of the equivalent municipalities in York Region (established 1971). Note that after 1971 the boundaries of the towns of Newmarket, Aurora and Richmond Hill are defined. These towns were all separately incorporated from the townships many years before that date, but none would have had such a large geographical footprint.
The map of York County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual municipalities, townships, city, towns and villages of the county. (Click at the bottom of the page to see the map enlarged.)
Newmarket's location on the Holland River long ago 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 River and into Lake Ontario. A more used route ran down the western branch of the Holland, over the moraine, and down the Humber River. In 1793, John Graves Simcoe travelled the trail, northward along the main route to the west, and south to York (now Toronto) along the lesser used eastern route though Newmarket. Selecting the eastern route as the better of the two, Simcoe started construction of Yonge Street along the former trail in late 1795, starting in York in Toronto Bay, and ending at the newly named St. Albans (Holland Landing) just north of Newmarket.
In June, 1800, Timothy Rogers, a Quaker from Vermont, explored the area around the Holland River to find a suitable location for a new Quaker settlement. Some of the United States Quakers were interested in moving northward, disturbed by the violence they were expected to take part in during the American Revolution. In 1801 Rogers returned along with several Quaker families who had left their homes in Vermont and Pennsylvania.
By the Christmas of 1801, Joseph Hill had constructed a mill on the Holland River, damming it to produce a mill pond that is now known as Fairy Lake. The town of "Upper Yonge Street" sprouted up around the mill, which explains why its primary downtown area was centred on the Holland River, and not on the nearby Yonge Street. Hill also built a tannery just to the north of the mill, and the first store and house, as well as additional mills. By 1802, Elisha Beman had begun to establish businesses and buy land in Newmarket. A mill was first and other businesses (including a distillery) soon followed. The town continued to grow through the early 19th century, along with the formation of Aurora and Holland Landing, and a market held in the current downtown location gave rise to the name "Newmarket".
Newmarket played a central role in the Rebellion of 1837. The Town was a focal point of discontent against the manipulations of the governing Family Compact, of whom it was said "were robbing the country". Rebel leader William Lyon Mackenzie organized a series of meetings leading to the Rebellion. During the first of these meetings, on August 3, 1837, Mackenzie delivered his first campaign speech from the veranda of the North American Hotel at the corner of Botsford and Main Streets. This speech is largely credited for being the initial spark to the rebellion as it was heard by about 600 farmers and others sympathetic to Mackenzie’s cause, who later that year armed themselves and marched down Yonge St. to take the capital. A number of leaders from this area were later attainted for high treason, convicted and hanged.
Newmarket was incorporated as a village in 1857 with a population of 700. In 1880, with a population of 2,000, Newmarket became a Town and William Cane was elected as its first mayor. In later years Cane's sash and door factory became the first in Canada to manufacture lead pencils. In 1858, Robert Simpson co-opened "Simpson & Trent Groceries, Boots, Shoes and Dry Goods" in downtown Newmarket, the first store in what would become the Simpsons department store chain .
In June 1853 the first train pulled into Newmarket on the Toronto, Simcoe & Lake Huron Union Railroad, the first railway in Upper Canada. It eventually linked Toronto to Collingwood on Georgian Bay, a major shipbuilding centre. Today, this line is the "Newmarket Subdivision" of the Canadian National Railway system, running north out of Newmarket towards Bradford, and south towards Toronto.
In 1899 the Toronto and York Radial Railway arrived in Newmarket. This operated along Yonge Street south of Newmarket, but turned east to run through the downtown area along Main Street; it would later be extended north. At the time, it brought significant numbers of day trippers to Newmarket to shop at the market. Automobile traffic on Yonge Street, and the already existing mainline railway, had a significant effect on ridership, and the Radial was discontinued in the early 1930s.
North of Davis Drive in Newmarket, the East Holland River was straightened to prepare it for use as a commercial waterway to bypass the railway, whose prices were skyrocketing around the turn of the 20th century. Sir William Mulock, the local Member of Parliament, proposed a canal system running down the Holland River through Holland Landing and into Lake Simcoe. This would allow boats to connect from there to the Trent-Severn Waterway for eventual shipment south. The canal was almost complete by the summer of 1912, when it was cancelled by the incoming government of Robert Borden. Today, the locks are still visible and are known as the "Ghost Canal". The turning basin in downtown Newmarket was filled in and now forms the parking lot of The Old Davis Tannery Mall, on the site of the former Hill tannery.
For much of the 20th century, Newmarket developed along the east-west Davis Drive axis, limited to the area between Yonge Street on the west and between Bayview and Leslie Street in the east, and running from just north of Davis on the north to the Fairy Lake area on the south. By the 1950s, Newmarket was experiencing a suburban building boom due to its proximity to Toronto. The population increased from 5,000 to 11,000 between 1950 and 1970. The construction of Upper Canada Mall at the corner of Yonge Street and Davis Drive in 1974 started pulling the focal point of the town westward from the historic Downtown area along Main Street.
By the early 1980s, the original historic Downtown area suffered as most businesses had built up in the area around Upper Canada Mall, with additional strip malls developing directly across the intersections to the south and southeast. A concerted effort to revitalize the historic Downtown area during the late 1980s was successful. More recently, a $2.3-million investment was made by the Town in 2004 in streetscaping and infrastructure improvements to roads and sidewalks in the historic Downtown. The historic area of Downtown's Main Street is once again a major focal point of the Town.
The arrival of Highway 404 reversed the westward movement, pulling development eastward again, and surrounding the formerly separate hamlet of Bogarttown at the intersection of Mulock Drive and Leslie Street. Since then, Newmarket has grown considerably, filling out in all directions. The town limits now run from Bathurst Street in the west to Highway 404 in the east, and from just south of Green Lane to just north of St. John's Sideroad, taking over the former hamlet of Armitage at Yonge Street south of Mulock Drive. The outer limit of the Town is contiguous with Aurora to the south.
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 1914 are now available [October 2012]; 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. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books