Unionville is a charming historic village in Markham, York Region, and what was once a hidden gem is now a popular destination for a quick day trip. Markham’s former village was established in the 1790s and is now a thriving community honouring its history while embracing modernity.
Unionville is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of downtown Toronto making it the perfect spot to get away for a few hours of the day. With its quaint and picturesque character, there are plenty of things to do in Unionville.
What Is Unionville Known For?
- There is abundant history within the borders of Unionville and Markham, the larger area around Unionville. For over two centuries, Unionville has kept its alluring, quaint atmosphere.
- This is why it has been chosen as the setting for Hollywood films such as A Simple Favor starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, Love You Like Christmas and Will You Merry Me? Furthermore, Unionville’s timeless appeal can also be seen in television shows like Suits, Schitt’s Creek, and Gilmore Girls.
- Today, Unionville is known for its quaint Victorian-style homes and buildings, which give it an old-world charm. Many shops and restaurants along Main Street are lined with old-fashioned streetlights and beautiful gardens.
What to Do in Unionville, Ontario
Unionville features many unique attractions. There are also several heritage sites scattered throughout the town. Unionville is also well known for its nearby recreational activities like hiking trails, bird-watching sites, and biking paths.
Overall, Unionville is where old-fashioned charm meets modern convenience, making it an ideal place to live or visit.
Toogood Pond Park
Our favourite place to start every visit to Unionville is Toogood Pond. Toogood Pond Park is a 145-acre regional park with various recreational activities, including walking trails, biking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and sports fields.
The park also features a 7-acre pond that is popular with local anglers. It also has an off-leash dog park, an outdoor amphitheatre and an art pavilion.
Top Things to Do in Unionville Village
Unionville enjoys a vibrant cultural life as well as offering local recreational activities. This makes it an ideal destination for everyone looking to enjoy or relax away from the city centre’s hustle and bustle.
Varley Art Gallery of Markham
The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is a vibrant center of creativity, serving artists and local communities. Their gallery also offers a range of exciting programs, including rotating art shows, guided tours, and workshops. Exhibitions and public and educational programs promote critical discussion of Canadian art, culture and society.
In addition to celebrating the legacy of F.H. Varley, one of the Group of Seven, they have invested in bringing more access to the arts.
McKay Art Centre
The McKay Art Centre was formerly the residence of Frederick Horsman Varley, a renowned member of the Group of Seven. McKay lived in the house for the last 12 years of his life. During this time, Varley worked in his studio on the lower level, producing a range of portraits and landscapes based on the scenic environment around him.
Today the Victorian-era home provides the perfect backdrop for art exhibitions.
Old Firehall Confectionery
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, the Old Firehall Confectionery is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a sweet treat. Kimberly and Natasha, aka Sugar Queen and Sugar Diva, respectively, are the dynamic duo behind all the homemade chocolates, hard candies, and other fine sweets.
Choose from various boxes, bags, and tins to give as gifts to friends and family, or pick up some treats to enjoy yourself.
Old Unionville Congregational Church
Originally constructed in 1879 on land donated by the Braithwaite Family, the Old Unionville Congregational Church was designed by famed architect E.J. Lennox, the man behind iconic structures like Toronto’s Old City Hall (1889), the King Edward Hotel (1902) and Casa Loma (1914).
Following the dissolution of the Congregational Church in 1894, the building was sold to the Presbyterians, who used it until 1925, then given to the non – concurrent Presbyterians, who later sold it to the Township of Markham.
Unionville Planing Mill
The Planing Mill was constructed by William Eakin in 1840 and was leased out and sold to Robert Harrington in 1881. Throughout its operation, it manufactured wood products such as doors, lumber, window frames, and flooring for many local buildings, including churches, schools and barns, till it was destroyed by fire in 1983.
In 1987, Unionville Village Holdings partnered with the town and the historical society to redevelop the site. Now it’s home to Next Door Restaurant and Smash Kitchen, which offers a unique gastronomic experience. Plus, the building kept its functioning mill water wheel.
Unionville Train Station
The Unionville Railway Station is a historic landmark as one of the oldest train stations in Canada, constructed in 1871. It was built by the Toronto and Nipissing Railway Company and later acquired by the Town of Markham in 1989.
After the station was restored to its original condition and converted into a community centre, it provides heritage train rides offered to the public every summer.
Central United Church
The Primitive Methodist Church, built in 1879 by Josiah Hall, was the initial structure of today’s Central United Church. In 1891, women belonging to the congregation had storage buildings for coal and wood constructed at the back of the building.
The limestone used to construct the church was transported all the way from Kingston and delivered to the present spot by means of a horse-drawn wagon.
Later, in 1925, the Presbyterian and Methodist churches combined and held their first United Church service in the building.
Activities in Downtown Unionville
Downtown Unionville, Ontario, offers travellers a unique opportunity to explore a charming small town with plenty of activities and attractions.
Unionville Millennium Bandstand
The Millennium Bandstand, located on the corner of Fred Varley Drive and Main Street, has become a popular spot to enjoy live music concerts such as Thursday Nights at the Bandstand, Concert Sunday and the TD Markham Jazz Festival, and outdoor movie nights.
It was built in 2000 and is a prominent feature on Main Street.
Unionville Main Street Events
Main Street Unionville has been designated a National Historic Site due to its many 19th-century buildings and colourful storefronts. There are also many great restaurants, cafés, and boutiques to explore, making this an excellent place for shopping and sightseeing.
The Unionville Festival is an annual event that celebrates Unionville’s cultural and artistic diversity. The event is usually held during summer and includes various activities such as live music, food trucks, carnivals, and art shows.
The festival also typically features family-friendly activities such as face painting, paint-by-number contests, and a parade with local businesses and community groups participating.
Unionville Ontario Upcoming Events
Unionville offers a variety of exciting events throughout the year. From local festivals to outdoor activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
If your looking for something to do in Unionville, ON with the kiddos?
Crock-A-Doodle offers an amazing range of ceramic painting experiences for visitors of any age. From hand-painted pottery to glass fusion, there’s a project for anyone! Staff members are on site to offer helpful advice and provide guidance throughout the creative process.
Places to Eat in Unionville
Foodies should visit one of the many delicious restaurants in Downtown Unionville. Jake’s On Main and Union Arms Pub & Grill have what you need if you’re looking for a simple pint. If you looking for something sweet, then Old Firehall Confectionery (mentioned above), Sweetie Pie (Unionville)(mentioned below.), and Flavours of Unionville will satisfy your sweet tooth. If your in the mood for Indian food the Ambiyan Indian Restaurant is excellent!
Old Country Inn
The Old Country Inn is a restaurant located in a 140-year-old house. Built in 1872 by the grandson of the original settlers of Unionville, Dr. R.P. Eckardt, the house was known as “The Doctors house”, with its history of medical practitioners living and working out of it.
Outside the Old Country Inn is an original wine press, which was constructed in 1871 and shipped to the inn from Raiding in the Burgenland region of Austria, where classical composer Franz Liszt, was born.
Sweetie Pie (Unionville)
Located in the heart of Unionville, or any Ontario town, is pie, bread, or cookies. We digress; Sweetie Pie, a local cafe and bakery that serves up freshly baked pies, coffee, and specialty sandwiches and salads.
On their menu, you’ll find some classic favorites like the apple pie and oatmeal raisin cookies, as well as unique and inventive takes on classic dishes such as the blueberry focaccia sandwich and the strawberry shortcake turnover.
The Alley offers bubble tea and unique coffee blends. In addition, they have an exclusive menu that boasts a variety of handcrafted drinks and grab-and-go cafe food, from pastries to salads to fried snacks, all made with our unique house-blended coffees.
La Grotta on Main
La Grotta on Main is a popular Italian restaurant here in Unionville. With its rustic-chic, exposed brick walls, large windows, and contemporary lighting fixtures mixed with traditional Italian dishes made with fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers.
It’s worth noting that it has quite an extensive selection of wines.
Where to Stay in Unionville, ON + Accommodation Map
Final Thoughts on Visiting Unionville
Visiting Unionville, Ontario, is an exciting experience! Located in the Greater Toronto Area, Unionville offers a charming atmosphere that will surely please any visitor. Here, you can explore the historic Main Street and take in its Victorian-era architecture or wander around Toogood Park, which offers beautiful views of the lake and many walking trails. For a more sophisticated experience, visit the nearby Markham Museum.
It may seem small, but spending a day in Unionville and exploring Markham and even Toronto makes for a splendid weekend away with the family.