Generally speaking, Markham breaks down into six primary communities: Buttonville, Cornell, Markham Village, Milliken, Thornhill and Unionville. Thornhill and Unionville in particular are largely responsible for the Markham real estate boom of the last few decades.
Buttonville is a largely industrial area, with an airport and manufacturing plants sprouting up over the years on what was once farmland. With Cadillac Fairview’s purchase of the airport, however, it’s set for demolition after 2014 and will eventually become a hub of Markham condos and office space. It’s also becoming more residential, with a population of around 30,000 living in its homes.
Cornell is a planned community conceived in the 1990s and drawing more than 12,000 inhabitants in the years since. Many of Markham’s townhouses can be found here, as well as semi-detached and fully-detached houses with garages in back. With central amenities, Cornell was designed to combat urban sprawl with density and shared conveniences. Its southern section, though, is largely undeveloped.
Home to the historic Markham Main Street area, Markham Village houses around 6,000 residents. It was founded by Mennonites from Pennsylvania and upstate New York and still features the community’s historic train station, which is now open for event rentals.
Originally called “Milliken Corners,” Milliken straddles the line between Markham and Toronto proper. 35 percent of Milliken residents speak a Chinese dialect as their first language – more than twice the percentage of the overall city’s native Chinese speakers. Many of its two-story homes were built in the 1980s.
Also along the Toronto border, the considerably-sized Thornhill is split into two municipalities: one in Markham and one borne of its original designation as a Toronto suburb. It’s an ethnically diverse area, the growth of which has boomed since the 1970s; as a result, it’s now responsible for quite a few homes on the Markham MLS and has nearly 30 public elementary schools serving the youngest among its more than 100,000 residents. Perhaps its most famous former residents is Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars’ prequel trilogy.
Lastly, Unionville clocks in with 80,000 residents and plenty of red brick architecture. One of the most affluent communities in the greater Toronto area, its tourism industry brings in thousands of visitors per year, as does the annual Unionville Festival. Some of the most expensive homes for sale in Markham can be found here. A few notes of pop culture trivia: former Thornhill resident Hayden Christensen attended Unionville High School, and the community has also been used for various television and movie productions, including parts of the first season of Gilmore Girls.