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Heritage plaques yours to discover throughout Newmarket

In this week's Remember This?, History Hound Richard MacLeod challenges you to find some of the plaques that tell the story of our history and honour citizens
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You may have noticed some of these heritage plaques around Newmarket, and some you may have never noticed but really should check out. There will be a little assignment for you at the end. 

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Eagle Street Pioneer Burying Ground plaque unveiled June 17, 1979. Erected by Newmarket Historical Committee under chairman Elman Campbell.

PIONEER BURYING GROUND

This cemetery came into use in the early 19th century as a non-denominational burying ground, but in 1863 ownership passed on to St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Prominent pioneers buried here include William Roe (1795-1839) a town founder, Dr.  Christopher Beswick (1721-1839) pioneer physician, Esther Sayre Robinson Beman (1767-1827) mother of William, Peter and Sir John Beverly Robinson; Founder Elisha Beman (1760-1820); John McDonald a North West trader; Ann Roe (1774 -1839) widow of Walter Roe, last Chief Magistrate of Detroit.

The cemetery fell into disrepair following establishment of another on Main St. in 1869. It was subsequently leveled, and the cairn built.

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A commemorative ceremony and plaque unveiling were held at the Quaker Meeting House on Sunday, Oct. 17, 1958 sponsored by the York Pioneers and Historical Society.

QUAKER MEETING HOUSE 1810

In 1800 an extensive grant of land in this vicinity was made to Timothy Rogers and Samuel Lundy who, with other members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) settled here in 1801-1803. Originally under the religious jurisdiction of the Philadelphia and New York yearly meetings. The settlers were organized in 1806 as the Yonge St. Monthly Meeting of Friends.

In 1807 Asa Rogers deeded two acres of land for a burial ground and three years later William Doane made a similar grant for a Meeting House. This simple frame building begun in 1810 was the first permanent place of worship erected in the area north of Toronto. The Society of Friends still continue to worship here.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation  Ministry of Citizenship & Culture                                                                                                                        

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Plaque commemorating the pioneer cemetery at the corner of Prospect and Timothy Streets.                    

“GOD’S ACRE” PROSPECT HILL

In this vicinity an outpost mission for public worship by the native Indians and pioneer Episcopalian Methodists was established in 1824 for services by itinerant clergy in a primitive meeting house and adjoining burying ground. In 1840 the building was replaced with a two storey wooden church by the Wesleyan Methodists which served the growing congregation until 1880 when a new Methodist edifice was erected on Main St. The old church was torn down in 1883 with no records kept of the burying ground. The area was cleared for a public school built in 1891 later named the Alexander Muir Public School. The cemetery was leveled and used as a playground. The school was demolished in 1979 and with the passing of time this ancient burial plot was forgotten until an archaeological survey in 1991 revealed the presence of several internments and here they remain.

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Bronze plaque erected at the entrance to the Wesley Brooks Memorial Park Conservation Area

WESLEY BROOKS 1890 - 1963

Born in Mount Albert and educated at Albert College, Belleville - Wesley Brooks first moved to Newmarket in 1909, joining the staff of Office Specialty Co. and with the exception of four years overseas with the 127th Battalion in World War 1 and a short term in Lindsay Ont. he remained here to become one of Newmarket’s outstanding citizens. Appointed Clerk-Treasurer of the town in 1945, he served the community faithfully in this capacity for 17 years.

As Secretary-Treasurer of the Holland Valley Conservation Authority from its inception in 1951 to 1963. He actively promoted the cause for conservation in this and in particular the Fairy Lake reclamation project.

A modest person, he was an active member of the many municipal and charitable organizations throughout his lifetime and in 1962 he was voted the “Man of the Year” by the townspeople.

In grateful memory to a fine public servant and citizen these lands have been dedicated;

WESLEY BROOKS MEMORIAL CONSERVATION AREA.

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Bronze plaque erected at west of the dam on south side of Water Street.

THE FOUNDING OF NEWMARKET

In 1801 Joseph Hill attracted by the water potential of the Holland River built a grist mill on the site of the present-day Newmarket and opened a general store. The settlement here in 1803 of Elisha Beman, a major local landowner and entrepreneur, provided a strong stimulus for the community’s growth and within a few years the village emerged as the market centre for the rich surrounding agricultural region.

The arrival of the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron Union railroad in 1853 strengthened this position contributing to Newmarket incorporation as a village four years later. Because of its success in attracting financial investment, the village prospered and in 1880, Newmarket with over 2000 inhabitants was incorporated as a town by an act of Provincial legislature.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation Ministry of Culture & Recreation

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Bronze plaque honoring Mazo de la Roche located at the Wesley Brooks Conservation Area Fairy Lake unveiled Nov.  8, 1972

MAZO de la ROCHE 1879 - 1961

Born Mazo Louise Roche in Newmarket, this celebrated Canadian writer attended the University of Toronto. She established an international literary reputation when her book “Jalna” won the Atlantic Monthly competition of 1927. It was the first of 16 novels narrating the history of the “Whiteoak” family and set in the Clarkson Ontario area. The book provides a comprehensive picture of the life in the province from the mid 19th to 20th century. Adapted from two of these novels the play “Whiteoaks” opened for a run of nearly three years in London in 1936. The author of many short stories and poems Mazo de la Roche is buried in St, George’s Churchyard, and Jackson’s Point Ontario

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There are many more heritage plaques around town, so let’s leave you with a little task. Scout around Newmarket for more plaques and respond to my challenge by posting in the comments section below on Newmarket Today with the plaques that you have discovered.

Post where it is located, the script from the plaque and where available, when it was dedicated.  I have purposely left out many plaques in town so that you can have a little fun!

Sources: Plaques of Ontario Website; Notes from Heritage Newmarket by George Luesby.

NewmarketToday.ca brings you this weekly feature about our town's history in partnership with Richard MacLeod, the History Hound, a local historian for more than 40 years. He conducts heritage lectures and walking tours of local interest, as well as leads local oral history interviews. You can contact the History Hound at thehistoryhound@rogers.com.




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About the Author: Richard MacLeod

Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years
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