History of Stouffville

History of Stouffville
Abraham Stouffer

Abraham Stouffer

Abraham Stouffer, who came to Canada in 1804 and purchased lot 1 concession 9 Whitchurch, founded Stouffville. Here he built a mill at the current intersection of Main Street and Mill Street. Other small shops were soon built in close proximity to the mill. A north-south lumbering route was also being established along Tenth Line.

Between 1817 and 1824 a sawmill and gristmill were built on Duffin’s Creek. These were destroyed by fire, but were rebuilt. Around the time of Abraham’s death, the mills were sold to Edward Wheler.

A community began to emerge as a general store opened in a corner of the gristmill operated by Charles Sheldon and Frederick Cheney. Next, a blacksmith’s shop and tavern were built. Ben Boyer and son John later opened a store that included a pharmacy. In 1832, the Boyer building opened the first post office of Stouffville, with Charles Sheldon appointed as Postmaster. In about 1927, a new federal post office was built on Main Street, and in 1977 another “new” post office was erected at its present site.

In 1831, Stouffville’s first school was built on the current site of the Stouffville United Church. From 1841, the building was used for Sunday Methodist church services, and in 1856 the structure was bought by the Methodists. In 1847 a frame building, south of Main Street in what was Markham Township, was being used as a school. In 1855 it was completed as a one room brick schoolhouse. By 1876 three buildings were being used to house all the children on site, which is currently Summitview Public School. The one room brick schoolhouse was later torn down to make room for a four room brick schoolhouse. By 1894 the school was known as Stouffville Continuation School serving grades 1 to 11. In March of 1917, a fire destroyed the school and a new building was erected on the south side of Main Street, using some of the bricks reclaimed from the fire. This opened in 1918 with Archie Stouffer as Principal.

In 1954, after several additions to the school (including Kindergarten and Grade 13), Stouffville District Secondary School was built on 10 acres of land. Orchard Park was built in 1959 to reduce the over- crowding at Summitview. St. Mark’s Catholic School was built in 1965 for elementary students. Glad Park was added to the list in 1997. Soon to be added in 2001 is a new Catholic elementary site to be built near Millard Avenue.

In 1848 a Congregational church was built in the area now occupied by the cemetery. This building was worshipped in for twenty-seven years before a new one was erected at the intersection of Main Street and Stouffer Street. The moral policing of the village was done here. The area behind the old church was to be the town cemetery. At this time, Stouffville’s population was approximately 350.

A couple of years after the Rebellion, the Mackenzie printing press was set up in the Boyer’s building. Thomas Shaw, the printer, issued an early paper and, by 1850, John Cline was its editor. After this first early paper (which eventually moved to Uxbridge) James Wideman bought the paper and published it as the Alert, a temperance and religious paper. By 1888, J. Hoidge took possession and called it the Tribune. Three more papers were published, however only the Tribune survived.

By the 1860s, the village consisted of taverns, a tannery, pumpworks, blacksmith shops, and a wagon shop. Also, for many years, lumbering was a source of wealth. Despite all this activity, Stouffville was not the manufacturing centre Markham was. Stouffville only flourished due to its location on major roads (Uxbridge-Markham road and the Town Line) which were frequently used. For such traveling public hotels with livery stables were built by Hiram Yake. Also, by the late 1870s, specialty shops such as furniture establishments, foundries, a cheese factory, a woven carpets and blankets shop, a paint and wagon shop, agricultural implement shops, a spring-bed factory, and a saddlery (harness) shop emerged in the area.

July 1, 1871 saw the arrival of the first Toronto and Nipissing Railway. In 1870, the population was approximately 700. Business only started to increase when, in 1877, another rail line was built. This one headed north to Lake Simcoe. Stouffville Junction became a busy station and helped the growth of Stouffville. By 1901 the town’s population had increased to 1,223.

Due to the railway and population growth, many residences wanted separate municipal administration for the community. In January 1877 Stouffville, which had so far been governed mainly by the Whitchurch Township Council, was incorporated as a village. The first Stouffville council met on January 15, 1877. James Dougherty was the first Reeve, followed by Ed Wheler two years later, William B. Sanders two years after that, and in 1897 James H. Ratcliff became Reeve. Ratcliff was responsible for the installation of the waterworks operated on the gravity system.

The late 1800s also saw the emergence of the village’s first library. In 1923, the Carnegie Library was built with a grant obtained from the Carnegie Foundation. A new larger library was built in 1977.

At the corner of Main St. and O’Brien Ave., R.J. Daley built a home in the 1890s with electric light, central heating, carved walnut paneling and a slate roof. In 1885, he built Daley’s Hall. South of this hall, an arena with two ice areas and a gymnasium for men was erected. This was given over to a farmer’s market (known as the “Dutch Picnic”). A fire destroyed Daley’s Hall in the winter of 1923. Another concert hall was built in 1903. It became a movie theatre in 1923 and eventually became the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville’s municipal offices.

In 1971 Stouffville united with part of Whitchurch Township, forming the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. Its coat of arms was received in 1973.