City life has its benefits – convenience, access, the energy of city streets – but there are days when it would be nice to experience the charm of a small town, the feeling of community that comes with local businesses, mom and pop shops, and smiles that greet you from neighbours and strangers as you walk down the street. What if you could have the best of both worlds? That’s exactly what you get at Markham Square where you’re just minutes away from Main Street Unionville, a vibrant village in the heart of Markham.
Charming, nostalgic, and quaint. That’s the only way to describe Unionville, a heritage village that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Main Street, which runs directly through the centre of the village, is chock full of friendly locals and unique shops.
Start your walk at the Varley Art Gallery, a free gallery named after F.H. Varley (a founding member of the Group of Seven) and featuring exhibitions of historical and contemporary Canadian art. When you’ve had your fill, continue on your way, skirting the edge of Crosby Park and past the historic Stiver House, a Regency cottage believed to be the oldest remaining building in Unionville. Ladies may be tempted by a stop at Lou Lou Boutique for some retail therapy and the latest daily finds, while gents can browse at Mariani’s Custom Clothier, experts in made-to-measure suits.
Now might be a good time for a bite. Pick your pleasure, award-winning cupcakes and handmade sweets and treats at The Old Firehall Confectionery? Over 50 flavours of ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and soft serve at Flavours of Unionville? A cappuccino at Caffè Gran Sasso? Or fajitas at Jake’s on Main – dine inside the Victorian mansion or, in the summer months, outside on the best patio in town.
Happily sated, it’s time to continue your stroll. See what vintage treasures you can find at Susannah Designer Consignment (we spotted a classic Louis Vuitton Noé bucket bag on our last trip). Or, if you’re on the hunt for great home finds, check out The Queen’s Interiors or Too Good General Store.
A hop, skip, and a jump away you’ve reached the corner of Fred Varley Drive and Main Street, where you should take a few minutes to sit under the Millennium Bandstand and watch the local colour. Almost any day of the week there will be something going on, from Thursday Nights at the Bandstand and Concert Sundays, to the TD Markham Jazz Festival and Movies on Main. But don’t linger too long because there’s one more stop on this trip.
The Stiver Mill Farmer’s Market is a little off the main strip but it’s well worth the detour. When temperatures rise the market is open for business, offering the best local fruits, veggies, meat, baked goods, crafts, and more. Come for groceries, stay for lunch and live entertainment that changes weekly. It’s a great start, middle, or end to your Main Street adventures, and, like the village that surrounds it, a great place to connect with friends and enjoy a beautiful day in any season.