Thornhill (2011 population 110,430) is a neighbourhood in the Regional Municipality of York in Ontario, Canada. It is split between the cities of Vaughan and Markham, lying along the north border of Toronto, centred on Yonge Street. Once a police village, Thornhill is now a community and postal designation. According to the 2001 Census, Thornhill-Vaughan's population was 56,361, and the population of Thornhill-Markham was 47,333. It is immediately south and south-west of Richmond Hill.
Conley Park, one of the many parks found in Thornhill
|Regional Municipality||York Region|
|Time zone||EST (UTC−5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC−4)|
|Forward Sortation Area||L3T, L4J|
|Area code(s)||905 and 289|
Thornhill was founded in 1794. Its first settlers on Yonge Street in Thornhill were Asa Johnson (who settled on the Vaughan side) and Nicholas Miller (c.1760–1810; who settled on the Markham side). Of particular importance was the arrival of Benjamin Thorne (January 4, 1794 – July 2, 1848) in 1820 from Dorset, England, who was operating a gristmill, a sawmill, and a tannery in the community. The settlement came to be known as Thorne's Mills, and later, Thorne's Hill, from which its current name is derived. (Thorne committed suicide in 1848, after a serious wheat market crash.)
Between 1830 and 1848, Thornhill experienced a period of continued growth and prosperity. The business district of Thornhill developed on its portion of Yonge Street, between Centre Street and John Street. Stagecoaches travelled between Holland Landing (Lake Simcoe) and York (Toronto) as Yonge Street's road conditions improved with new stonework. During this prosperous period, several churches, many of which are still standing today, were constructed.
Thornhill's location along Yonge Street, a major transportation route, proved beneficial to the community's growth throughout much of the twentieth century. The implementation of the electric radial Metropolitan line along Yonge Street in 1898 running north to Sutton and south to Toronto meant that, for the first time, people could reside in Thornhill and work in Toronto. By the 1920s, automobiles also facilitated travel along Yonge Street.
In 1931, Thornhill became a "Police Village"; before that time, Thornhill had no independent status and was split between the townships of Vaughan and Markham along Yonge Street, since the creation of municipal government in 1850. Before 1931, each township administered its half of the village. The creation of the Police Village gave Thornhill its own political boundaries. The village was headed by a reeve.
In 1971, York Region was created, part of a wave of municipal re-organization which converted many townships into towns and eliminated many of the municipal forms of organization which had existed within those townships. The establishment of a regional administration effectively eliminated the Police Village of Thornhill. Thornhill's administration reverted to the newly formed towns of Markham and Vaughan at this time.
However, many political and social institutions remained organized around the former municipal entities eliminated in 1971. Like neighbouring communities such as Woodbridge, Maple, and Unionville – as is typical for most urbanized former Greater Toronto Area (GTA) villages outside of the City of Toronto – Thornhill remained the postal designation for addresses within the former village's boundaries, and community organizations such as local newspapers, sports teams, and schools continued to operate under the Thornhill name and designation. As an example, until the mid-1990s residents of Thornhill who wanted to play high-level hockey were required to play for a Thornhill team.
While the old village of Thornhill revolved around Yonge Street between Centre and John Streets, the neighbourhood is typically thought to be between Dufferin Street to the west, Highway 7 to the north, Steeles Avenue to the south, and Highway 404 to the east.
Thornhill's growth since the 1960s and 1970s has been largely connected to its location bordering what is now the City of Toronto.
Growth has continued apace. Developments have sprung up across various areas of Thornhill in each of the municipal districts which encompass Thornhill, following the development patterns of the Greater Toronto Area.
Thornhill has a very ethnically diverse population. It is home to a significant number of Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Iranian, and Italian people. According to 2001 Federal Census data, the electoral district of Thornhill (which is not entirely congruent with the neighbourhood) consists of Chinese, the largest visible minority, accounting for almost 11% of total residents (12,610), followed by South Asian (6,595), Black (2,665), Korean (2,660), Filipino (2,535), and West Asian (2,355).
According to the 2009 Report of Canada's Demographic Task Force, Thornhill-Vaughan is home to more than 33,000 members of the Jewish community.
Municipally, Thornhill is split into Wards 4 and 5 in the City of Vaughan and Ward 1 in the City of Markham. It is represented by Sandra Yeung Racco (Vaughan Ward 4), Alan Shefman (Vaughan Ward 5), and Valerie Burke (Markham Ward 1).
There are no general hospitals in the Thornhill area; the nearest are Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (formerly York Central Hospital) in Richmond Hill and North York General Hospital in Toronto. A private hospital, Shouldice Hernia Centre, is in Thornhill.
Located at Bayview and John Street, the community centre features a double arena (home to the Thornhill Skating Club, Markham Majors and Islanders hockey clubs with east rink named for Bib Sherwood in 1999), therapy pool, gym room, running track, multi use rooms and Markham Public Library branch. The complex was opened in 1975.
Thornlea Pool is public swimming pool located further north of the community centre.