Thornhill, Ontario

Last updated

Suburban district
Conley Park.jpg
Conley Park, one of the many parks found in Thornhill
Thornhill Locator Map.svg
Thornhill within Vaughan and Markham
Canada Southern Ontario location map 2.png
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Location within Southern Ontario
Canada Ontario location map 2.svg
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Location in Ontario
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Location in Canada
Coordinates: 43°48′58″N79°25′28″W / 43.81611°N 79.42444°W / 43.81611; -79.42444 Coordinates: 43°48′58″N79°25′28″W / 43.81611°N 79.42444°W / 43.81611; -79.42444
Province Ontario
Regional Municipality York
Cities Vaughan and Markham
Settled1794 [1]
Incorporated1931 (Police village)
Changed Municipality1971 York Region from York County
Annexed1971 into Vaughan and Markham (as Towns) 1990 (as City of Vaughan) and 2012 (as City of Markham)
   MP's Melissa Lantsman (Thornhill)
Mary Ng (Markham—Thornhill)
   MPP's Gila Martow (Thornhill)
Logan Kanapathi (Markham—Thornhill)
  Councillors Vaughan: Sandra Yeung Racco (Ward 4)
Alan Shefman (Ward 5)
Markham: Keith Irish (Ward 1)
  Total62.90 km2 (24.29 sq mi)
 (2016) [2]
  Density1,791.9/km2 (4,641/sq mi)
Forward Sortation Area

Thornhill is a suburban community in the Regional Municipality of York in Ontario, Canada. Thornhill is situated along the northern border of Toronto, centred on Yonge Street, and is also immediately south of the City of Richmond Hill. Once a police village, Thornhill is still a postal designation. It is split between the City of Vaughan (its western portion) and the City of Markham (its eastern portion), with Yonge Street forming the municipal boundary. As of 2016, the total population of Thornhill, including both its Vaughan and Markham sections, was 112,719. [2]



The corner of Old Yonge Street and Centre Street Thornhill Ontario Sign Cropped.jpg
The corner of Old Yonge Street and Centre Street

Early history

Thornhill was founded in 1794. [1] The original boundaries were the northern bounds of the Ladies Golf Club on the east side of Yonge and further north on the west side of Yonge; southern end between John Street and Arnold Avenue/Elgin Street. Its first settlers on Yonge Street in Thornhill were Asa Johnson (who settled on the Vaughan side) and Nicholas Miller (c. 1760–1810; who settled on the Markham side). Of particular importance was the arrival of Benjamin Thorne (January 4, 1794 – July 2, 1848) in 1820 from Dorset, England, [3] who was operating a gristmill, a sawmill, and a tannery in the community. The settlement came to be known as Thorne's Mills, and later, Thorne's Hill, from which its current name is derived. (Thorne committed suicide in 1848, after a serious wheat market crash.)

Radial car to Thornhill on the Metropolitan line Toronto and York Radial Railway vehicle, circa 1921.jpg
Radial car to Thornhill on the Metropolitan line

Between 1830 and 1848, Thornhill experienced a period of continued growth and prosperity. The business district of Thornhill developed on its portion of Yonge Street, between Centre Street and John Street. Stagecoaches travelled between Holland Landing (Lake Simcoe) and York (Toronto) as Yonge Street's road conditions improved with new stonework. During this prosperous period, several churches, many of which are still standing today, were constructed.

Thornhill's location along Yonge Street, a major transportation route, proved beneficial to the community's growth throughout much of the twentieth century. The implementation of the electric radial Metropolitan line along Yonge Street in 1898 running north to Sutton and south to Toronto meant that, for the first time, people could reside in Thornhill and work in Toronto. By the 1920s, automobiles also facilitated travel along Yonge Street.

20th and 21st centuries

In 1931, Thornhill became a "Police Village"; before that time, Thornhill had no independent status and was split between the townships of Vaughan and Markham along Yonge Street, since the creation of municipal government in 1850. Before 1931, each township administered its half of the village. The creation of the Police Village gave Thornhill its own political boundaries. The village was headed by a reeve.

In 1971, York Region was created, part of a wave of municipal re-organization which converted many townships into towns and eliminated many of the municipal forms of organization which had existed within those townships. The establishment of a regional administration effectively eliminated the Police Village of Thornhill. Thornhill's administration reverted to Markham and Vaughan, which were enlarged in territory and upgraded to Town status at this time.

However, many social institutions remained organized around the former municipal entities eliminated in 1971. Like neighbouring communities such as Woodbridge, Maple, and Unionville – and more so than was the case for historic suburban communities within the City of Toronto – community organizations such as local newspapers, and sports teams continued to operate under a Thornhill administrative structure. As an example, until the mid-1990s residents of Thornhill who wanted to play high-level hockey were required to play for a Thornhill team.

While the old village of Thornhill revolved around Yonge Street between Centre and John Streets, the neighbourhood is typically thought to be between Dufferin Street to the west, Highway 7 to the north, Steeles Avenue to the south, and Highway 404 to the east.


Thornhill's growth since the 1960s and 1970s has been largely connected to its location bordering what is now the City of Toronto.

Growth has continued apace. Developments have sprung up across various areas of Thornhill in each of the municipal districts which encompass Thornhill, following the development patterns of the Greater Toronto Area.

Coyote problem

In the summer of 2020, after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the area around Hefhill Park, near Bathurst and Centre Streets, began experiencing a problem with its coyote population. [4] As reported by the Toronto Star, Thornhill residents' "daily routines have been completely altered after a pack of coyotes living nearby appears to have lost its fear of humans". [5] The issue exacerbated when dogs began mysteriously disappearing and the 14-year-old neighbour of Thornhill resident Ariella Serman was chased by one of the coyotes. [5]

As stated by the Toronto Star "the coyotes’ behaviour has changed [in 2020]. Before 2020 the animals were not aggressive and usually only seen by those living directly next to them. Now they are frequently spotted in people’s yards, residential streets and on major intersections, the residents said". [5] Residents of Thornhill continue to struggle with and report sightings and attacks by the coyote community to their local and regional governments as the issue remains unresolved. [4]



Thornhill has a very ethnically diverse population. It is home to a significant number of Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Iranian, and Italian people. According to 2001 Federal Census data, the electoral district of Thornhill (which is not entirely congruent with the neighbourhood) consists of Chinese, the largest visible minority, accounting for almost 11% of total residents (12,610), followed by South Asian (6,595), Black (2,665), Korean (2,660), Filipino (2,535), and West Asian (2,355). [6]

According to the 2009 Report of Canada's Demographic Task Force, Thornhill-Vaughan is home to more than 33,000 members of the Jewish community. [7] [ needs update ]


Thornhill is split into Wards 4 and 5 in the City of Vaughan and Ward 1 in the City of Markham. It is represented by Sandra Yeung Racco (Vaughan Ward 4), Alan Shefman (Vaughan Ward 5), and Keith Irish (Markham Ward 1).

Thornhill is also a federal and provincial riding. The Member of Parliament for Thornhill is Melissa Lantsman (Conservative), and the Member of Provincial Parliament is Gila Martow (Progressive Conservative).



There are no general hospitals in Thornhill, but a private hospital, Shouldice Hernia Centre, is located there. [8]

Thornhill Community Centre

Thornhill Community Centre library branch ThornhillCommunityCentreLibrary4.JPG
Thornhill Community Centre library branch

Located at Bayview and John Street, the community centre features a double arena (home to the Thornhill Skating Club, Markham Majors and Islanders hockey clubs (with an east rink named for Bib Sherwood in 1999), therapy pool, gym room, running track, multi-purpose rooms and Markham Public Library branch. The complex was opened in 1975. [9]

The Thornhill Seniors Club, also located in the community centre, was established in 2004 following expansions to the centre that began in 2003. [10] It features a variety of activities for seniors in a space that boasts a TV lounge with a fireplace, full kitchen, activity rooms, and more. [11]

The community centre hosted the Markham Thunder of the Canadian Women's Hockey League from 2017 to 2019.

Thornlea Pool is a public swimming pool located further north of the community centre near Thornlea Secondary School.


Thornhill's parks are a 20th-century development, with the only green space likely at churches or schools. Most parks in the area were developed along with residential growth in the 1960s to 1970s as areas outside the historic village would mostly still be farmland:


Public schools

Secondary schools

Elementary schools

  • Anne Frank Public School, established in 2014
  • Bakersfield Public School, established in 2003
  • Baythorn Public School
  • Bayview Glen Public School
  • Bayview Fairways Public School
  • Brownridge Public School
  • Carrville Mills Public School, established in 2007
  • Charlton Public School
  • Doncrest Public School
  • E.J. Sand Public School
  • German Mills Public School
  • Glen Shields Public School
  • Henderson Avenue Public School
  • Herbert H. Carnegie Public School
  • Johnsview Village Public School
  • Julliard Public School
  • Louis Honoré Fréchette Public School
  • Roberta Bondar Public School
  • Royal Orchard Public School
  • Rosedale Heights Public School
  • Stornoway Crescent Public School
  • Thornhill Public School
  • Thornhill Woods Public School
  • Ventura Park Public School
  • Westminster Public School
  • Willowbrook Public School
  • Wilshire Elementary School
  • Woodland Public School
  • Yorkhill Elementary School

Catholic schools

St. Elizabeth Catholic High School St Elizabeth CHS.JPG
St. Elizabeth Catholic High School

Private schools

Jewish schools




Farmer's market

York Farmers Market has existed on Yonge Street since 1953. The farmers market is housed in a permanent building structure. [14]

Notable people


Film and broadcasting



Visual arts


Other personalities

See also

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