History of the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce
The Town of Newmarket has a rich past, and the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce has been a part of all of it. In fact, we’ve been here since 1857—back when the Town of Newmarket was just a village.
Nearly 160 years later, the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce continues to be the voice of business in Newmarket. We’re proud of our role as a major contributor to the economic and social wellbeing of the community.
The New Market
Settled in the early 1800s by Quakers from Vermont and Pennsylvania, the agricultural community surrounding the Holland River was home to the first fur trading post and the largest farmers’ market in the area. The first residents built lumber and textile mills, a tannery, and a distillery. Farmers and traders no longer needed to make the long journey to the “old” markets in York, so this New Market quickly became the centre of trade, commerce, and small industry north of Toronto.
The Trading Tree
The settlement later known as Newmarket was centred around the Holland River and the millpond now known as Fairy Lake. The Holland River was an important artery for First Nations people and fur traders, and trails crisscrossed the area.
The Trading Tree was a giant elm that (as lore tells it) served as the site of the first trading post in the area. The well-known landmark was located on Timothy Street just a few yards west of Main Street. That’s where, at its base, fur traders would gather to barter with the First Nations people.
Though the Trading Tree was removed around 1950, its significance hasn’t been forgotten, and you’ll still find a nod to the Trading Tree on the Newmarket Chamber logo.
Newmarket Railway Station
If you’ve never visited the Chamber, there’s a good chance you’ve walked past our building at some point and wanted to take a peek inside. You’re not alone. People always want to know more about our offices, which are situated within the old Railway Station on Davis Drive just east of Main Street. Designated a heritage site in 1987, this picturesque Queen Anne Revival building became the new home of the Chamber of Commerce in 1997.
The existing structure is the third on the site and was built in 1899 by the Grand Trunk Railroad. It was restored in 1910 and abandoned in 1978. It was fitting that the Newmarket Chamber would take over the derelict century-old station and restore it to its former prominence as the heart of Newmarket’s business community.
The first railroad station on this site opened in 1853 when the Ontario, Huron and Simcoe railroad reached Newmarket. The railway station was the key to Newmarket’s success. The railroad was the link to Toronto and Lake Ontario for business and industry, so mills and factories were built in areas serviced by the railway. Businesses moved here, the community prospered, and the population grew. Newmarket was firmly established as the centre of commerce, and the most important village north of Toronto.