The establishment at 9th Line and 14th Avenue was first called Sparta or Sparty Wharf before Canada's Confederation in 1867.
Below are the historic highlights of Box Grove:
Sparta / Sparty Wharf (prior to 1867):
- First settled by William Beebe , a respected village toolmaker
- Centre of local and small-scale industrial activity
- The village was the site of a saw mill, cotton mill wool factory, and "shoddy mill" (for shredding old woolen fabrics for cheaper cloth and stuffing) along the banks of the Rouge River appeared after 1815 , established on land owned by the Tomlinson family
- William Beebe and Joseph Tomlinson created several village lots registering the Tomlinson – Beebe plan in 1850 at the York Country Registry Office
- Established commercial growth in the 19th century (1855)
- Village lots 100 and 250 feet wide by 250 feet deep were created for the homes and businesses
- A Temperance House was opened in the 1860s by Joseph Lathrop on 14th Avenue.
Box Grove (1876 onwards):
- The name Sparta was changed when the village acquired its first post office in 1867, the year of Confederation
- The working hamlet had a cheese factory, hotel and three taverns for a population of 150 (1880)
- Box Grove developed a reputation as a rough, working man’s village, being home to no less than three taverns.
- One of which was the White Rose Hotel and Tavern owned and operated by James Thomas
- By the end of the nineteenth century the mills had closed (victims of floods and fire)
- The White Rose Hotel and Tavern was the last to operate in Box Grove. The hotel eventually was bought by Joe Pagnello who emigrated from Italy to Toronto in the early 1900’s
- Gradually, the mills that powered the economy of Box Grove disappeared and the village diminished in importance.
- While industry disappeared in Box Grove, the hamlet remained.
- The Box Grove Church and Box Grove Schoolhouse, S.S. #18 (1870) are the only reminders of the once vibrant hamlet (Tomlinson family is buried in the church's graveyard)
- The Box Grove Post Office was lost in the early 20th century and revived as a postal outlet inside the Rexall store at 9th Line and Copper Creek Drive.
- The area of the mills later became part of the IBM golf course and subsequently a residential development.
A few prominent families were part of the Box Grove:
- Reesor - David Reesor operated the cheese factory; the Reesor family remains in the Markham area
- Burkholder - one of the last remaining Mennonite families in the area
- Tomlinson - early settler and operator of the mills in the hamlet
- Raymer - Pennsylvania Germans led by Abraham Raymer who settled in the area in 1890
- Rolph - soldier Captain William Rolph settled in the area
The Box Grove School House
The Box Grove Schoolhouse, built c. 1870
The Box Grove Schoolhouse, S.S. #18, was built in the 1870s to serve the educational needs of the small hamlet of Box Grove (formerly Sparta), located on the Ninth Line, adjacent to a tributary of the Rouge River.
As with other Markham Township Schools, the schoolhouse at Box Grove was a focal point of life in the community. As a result, when educational restructuring forced the closure of the one room schoolhouse in the 1960s, the Box Grove Schoolhouse was acquired by Markham for use as a community centre.
More info about Municipally Owned Heritage Sites: Municipally Owned Heritage Properties
Box Grove Church
2 Legacy Dr. Markham, Ontario
Source (Tour of Box Groves:http://www.historictours.ca/htlist.asp?category=Box+Grove; Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Box_Grove,_Ontario)