Newmarket Chamber of Commerce History
27 Jan 2017
The roots of the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce can be traced back to August 1857.
Originally called the Newmarket Board of Trade, it was founded by a group of merchants concerned over fair prices for farm produce at the Saturday morning markets in Market Square.
By October, the Newmarket Board of Trade was in operation. Donald Sutherland was the founding President (he was also the Reeve when the Village of Newmarket was incorporated in 1857). An active member of the community and prominent business owner, Sutherland’s businesses included a four-storey mill and later the Clark General Store on Main Street. A committee of six members rounded out the board, which included Dr. Thomas Bentley, a physician and druggist, as Vice-President, and merchant W. Bogart as Secretary-Treasurer.
One of the first big projects of the Board of Trade was to lobby the federal government to have Newmarket declared a Port of Entry. Eventually successful, the Newmarket Port and Customs Office operated for many years at the top floor of the Main Street post office building.
The Newmarket Board of Trade became the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce in 1911 when a provincial charter was obtained and it became a founding member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. (Donald Sutherland photo, from the George Luesby Collection.)
While never appearing to totally vanish, over the years the Chamber has experienced moments of downtime—most recently in the 1970s. That changed in 1981 when Dr. John Cole became Chamber President, breathing new life into the organization. Today Newmarket’s “voice of business” is nearly 900 members strong.
The Chamber Office
The Newmarket Chamber office resides in the old Train Station, located on Davis Drive just east of Main Street. Built in 1899 by the Grand Trunk Railroad, the Queen Anne Revival building was last used by a railway in 1978.
Left derelict for years, it was restored by the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce in 1997.
Given the key role the railway played in the Town’s development as a commercial and industrial centre, we think it’s only fitting the Station has prominence as the headquarters of the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce.