Place:Box Grove, York, Ontario, Canada

NameBox Grove
Alt namesSparta or Sparty-Wharf (early)source: wikipedia
Coordinates43.85°N 79.233°W
Located inYork, Ontario, Canada     (1815 - )
See alsoMarkham (township), York, Ontario, Canadatownship in which Box Grove located
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

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.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

A Middle Iroquian settlement existed on the west bank of a tributary 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 (Box Grove in 1867) 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 (McCaffrey General Store later as Box Grove General Store moved to what is now Shell Service Station after 1901). 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 (later replaced by residential dwellings and located at what is now 6788 14th Avenue). 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.

A few prominent families were part of Box Grove:

  • Burkholder - one of the last remaining Mennonite families in the area.
  • Tomlinson - early settler and operator of the saw and woolen mills in the hamlet
  • Raymer - John Nobel Raymer (1837-1874) a Mennonite farmer, and later his son Frank, operated a cheese factory. Abraham Raymer operated a sawmill farther down the Rouge.
  • Reesor - Peter Reesor operated saw and grist mills along Little Rouge River
  • Rolph - soldier Captain William Rolph (commanding officer of 12th York Regiment) settled in the area and became a dairy farmer.
  • McCaffrey - David McCaffrey was postmaster and general store owner

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.

In 1950 the Box Grove Golf course was built by businessman Nelson Davis on the Tomlinson property which included a portion of the Rouge River valley where their mills were located. One of the Tomlinsons was buried on the site and the golf course was built leaving the grave and headstone intact. In 1953, Nelson invited Arnold Palmer to play his course. Arnold apparently shot an 82 and declared it to be one of the toughest courses he had ever played. Davis built a lovely stone clubhouse which included a locker room with beautiful wooden lockers. In 1967, IBM purchased the golf course primarily for use by its employees. The golf facility included a 9-hole par 3 course and the tough 18-hole course, 9 holes in the valley and 9 holes on the flat ground on the north side of the valley. In 1997, IBM sold part of the course to Minto for a residential development called Legacy and the Town of Markham took ownership of the valley portion of the course which is now called Markham Green Golf Club. The original clubhouse has been modified extensively, first by IBM then by the Town and is now an attractive community centre. The Tomlinson grave was moved to the Box Grove Church graveyard and the original gravesite now on the south side of Legacy Drive is marked with a stone monument.

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.

Research Tips

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.

Early Records

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.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
In September 2014 announced that its paid website has been subjected to a "houseclean" of its Ontario BMD database, adding data that had been omitted and making many corrections. Its provision now includes

  • Births, with 2,172,124 records covering 1869-1913.
  • Marriages, with 3,393,369 records for 1801-1928 including Ontario county, district and Roman Catholic origins as well as province-wide civil registration.
  • Deaths, with 2,190,030 records comprising Ontario civil registrations of deaths, 1869-1938 and registrations of Ontario overseas deaths for 1939-1947.

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 1921. 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.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can also view censuses on microfilm at the LAC, at the Archives of Ontario (see address above), or at large libraries throughout Canada.

Hard-to-Find Places

E-books, Books and Newspapers

  • The Internet Archive, particularly texts from Canadian universities, can contain interesting material
  • Our Roots is a Canadian website similar to The Internet Archive
  • Global Genealogy is an online bookshop specializing in Ontario material who will ship anywhere in the world.
  • The Ancestor Hunt is a blog listing old Ontario newspapers that are available online, both free and pay websites. This is a very extensive list.

=== Websites with more local information on York County (York Region) ===


  • Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Serves the current City of Toronto including Etobicoke, York Township, Weston, Long Branch, New Toronto, Mimico, Swansea, Forest Hill, East York, Leaside and North York as well as the original City of Toronto. Contains a table of links to Toronto City Directories to be found online. Many other services and publications.
  • Heritage Toronto has a large website and newsletter outlining Toronto's history and includes a series of links to other organizations.
  • There may be many other libraries and museums housing information for genealogical searching in York County or York Region including others with more of a Toronto bias.
source: Family History Library Catalog