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Thornhill Real Estate, Geography, History: Thornhill is Suburb with a Soul!

Submitted by Jasmina on Sat, 2007-10-27 18:13.

Historic Thornhill - Thornhill Village Library As the first in a long line of suburbs stretching north of Toronto, Thornhill benefits from being close to major traffic arteries like Highway 401 to the south and Highway 407 to the north. The Don Valley Parkway can be reached easily and the heart of the North York City Centre is located just to the south at Yonge and Sheppard.

Not to be lost in the sprawling Greater Toronto Area, one gets the feeling that Thornhill views itself as a separate entity, with a rich history, a sense of community and a bright future.

History and Geography

The first thing that strikes a visitor traveling up Yonge St. through Thornhill is how hilly the terrain becomes as it accommodates the Don River that snakes its way through the landscape from north to south. The change in elevation and a feeling of relative openness (compared to Toronto) recalls the early rural history of Thornhill, during which time the river powered several flour and lumber mills. Originally settled in the 1790s predominantly by United Empire Loyalists from the United States, it later became nicknamed Thorne’s Mills after Benjamin Thorne, a prominent businessman in the area during the mid-1800s.

Though modern boundaries stretch Thornhill from east of Bayview Ave. past Bathurst St. in the west, and from Steeles Ave. to highway 407, the historical Village of Thornhill was centred along Yonge St. just north of Steeles. Nowadays Thornhill is divided between two municipalities, with the eastern half located in Markham and the western half located in Vaughan. Federal government statistics show Thornhill as having a population of 104,000 residents living in more than 33,000 dwellings.

The central core of the old Village of Thornhill is quite well preserved. On either side of Yonge Street sit clusters of old Victorian buildings, many of which have been converted into professional offices, restaurants and retail shops. Many buildings and sites throughout the central village area can be found accompanied by plaques explaining their history and significance.

Real Estate and Lifestyle

Despite the picturesque town centre, Thornhill now functions primarily as a suburb of Toronto and a very desirable place to live. Evidence of Thornhill’s growing cachet becomes clear as you peer into leafy neighbourhoods off Bayview Ave. on Thornhill’s eastern edge. Sprawling palatial homes sit majestically on large lots. Similar homes dot the landscape in other areas of Thornhill wherever wide, quiet streets are found with land to spare. The majority of houses, however, are substantially more modest.

The most common housing type is standard two-storey detached, of which several varieties are represented. Small subdivisions of different vintage and style are interspersed throughout the area creating visual interest. The average price for a home in Thornhill is $423,421, and detached homes in the area have an average price of $582,610. The southwest corner of Thornhill at Bathurst and Steeles is dominated by a cluster of high-rise apartments that stand in contrast to the wooded neighbourhoods along the eastern boundary. Heading up Bathurst, Thornhill’s contribution to the GTA condo boom can be seen in the crop of large towers under construction all around the Promenade Shopping Centre. As a key part of a rapidly emerging neighbourhood, the mall itself is already undergoing a massive expansion that will increase its size by 40 per cent.

In contrast to the areas of increasing density, central Thornhill is dominated by parks and golf courses that hug the Don River as it flows south. Among them is the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto, a course steeped in history that today stands as North America’s only remaining private golf club established by women for women. Thornhill has also become home to a wide variety of ethnic community centres and religious group headquarters that reflect the wide cultural diversity in the area. Among the largest of these is the Cham Shan Temple, a Chinese Buddhist temple with a massive roofed gate that looms over Bayview Ave.


Divided between York Region municipalities Markham and Vaughan
Thornhill, ON
See map: Google Maps