175th Jubilee will be marked next year in Markdale

Markdale and area residents can look forward in 2024t o a celebration of the 175th year since the town's founding.

The idea came forward from Mayor Paul McQueen last week at Grey Highlands council.

The size of the party will be up to the community, he said. He’s hoping for a groundswell of community support.

Grey Highlands endorsed forming a Task Force for the occasion. Among its tasks will be creating a new time capsule and a commemorative entrance celebrating its founding in 1849.

The town lost its landmark gates during construction in 2015, and they were not replaced. At that time, the time capsule hidden there was opened.

The task force will have two members of council, the museum curator and four members of the public.

Grey Highlands, like many others, is an amalgamated municipality, and styles itself as a “community of communities.”

It seems fitting then, that while Markdale is no longer an official municipality, it will carry on celebrating the anniversary of its founding.

Staff will put a placeholder figure into the budget for the Jubilee gates for consideration during budget talks.

“At the end of the day, we’ll have some really neat entrance gates, and I think there is some value to the municipality putting some funding to it.”

Mayor McQueen hearkened back to the 2017 Canada 150 celebrations which took place in Grey Highlands.

People who had immigrated to Canada were travelling into the area by ox-cart, horseback, or foot in the mid-19th century.

In 1849, George Walker and Joseph Price travelled north along the Toronto-Sydenham Road cut down trees and built a shelter.

They didn’t foresee the Markdale of today, but were likely glad of others who came to live nearby – some family names were Armstrong, Atkinson and McDuff.

By 1852, there was a post office. The name of Markdale did not come into use until 1870, following the first name of one of the Armstrongs – Mark.

Before that it was named East Glenelg, and then Cornabus, named by the postmaster after a place on the Isle of Isla, his homeland.

By the time of Confederation, it was a thriving village.

Although passing through a few challenges in recent years, with the threatened closure of its elementary school and long-term care centre, the town is once again thriving.

Municipal officials have said there are 800 houses at different stages of planning, and houses already built have the school full.

A new school was approved, and then expanded while in the planning stage. It is now under construction to be put in use during the 2024-25 school year.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Flesherton Advance