The first European to pass through the Huron-Wendat area, now known as Vaughan, was French explorer Étienne Brûlé in 1615. But it wasn’t until 1792 that settlements started to pop up in the area . The township was named after Benjamin Vaughan, a British commissioner who signed a peace treaty with the United States in 1783.
The first people to arrive were mainly Pennsylvania Germans, with a smaller number of families of English descent and a group of French Royalists. In 1814, an influx of people from Britain settled in the area.
A number of hamlets sprung up following the migration, the oldest being Thornhill, along with Kleinburg, Maple, Richmond Hill, Teston, Claireville, Pine Grove, Carrville, Concord, Elgin Mills, Nashville and Burwick (Woodbridge).
Vaughan Township was incorporated in 1850. In 1971, the regional government of York Region was established, merging with the Village of Woodbridge (which became the Town of Vaughan), and in 1991 it all officially changed to the City of Vaughan.
In Vaughan, over 80 per cent of the housing is single-family, detached dwellings, and about 94 per cent of residents own their own home. However, with the province’s Places to Grown policy, Vaughan is seeing a boom of condominium developments. To see a complete list of projects for sale, go to CondoLifeMag.com.
The largest theme park in Canada — Canada’s Wonderland — is in Maple and measures 330 acres and boasts 16 roller coasters, more than any other park outside of the U.S. It also has a 20-acre water park and its fall season includes Halloween Hunt. It had 3.66 million visitors in 2012, making it the most visited theme park in North America.
Historically, Vaughan has been agricultural, and a number of farmers’ markets are open during the summer, the biggest perhaps in Woodbridge, located at the Memorial Arena at Islington Avenue and Highway 7.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection located in Kleinburg treats visitors to a truly unique experience. The gallery has a collection of 6,000 pieces of art by Tom Thomson, The Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations and Inuit art. The gallery also has a large network of outdoor trails where visitors can explore the Sculpture Garden, as well as the cemetery where Group of Seven members and gallery founders Robert and Signe McMichael have been laid to rest.
The annual fall Binder Twin Festival — which attracts about 25,000 visitors each year — has its roots in Kleinburg’s agricultural history and marks the beginning of the harvest fair season.
One of the best public golf courses in the GTA is also located in Kleinburg. Designed by renowned Canadian architect Doug Carrick, Copper Creek has been voted the best public golf course in the GTA and is considered one of the best courses in all of Canada. Set amid the rolling hills and forests of the Humber River Valley, Copper Creek has a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse and its grounds feature glorious gardens, an expansive terrace and gazebo.
Other golf courses include The National, The Board of Trade, Bayview, Thornhill, Cardinal, Eagles Nest, Maple Downs and Copper Creek.
Parks & Rec
People are drawn to the City of Vaughan because of its high quality of life, abundant green spaces and exciting attractions. Vaughan hosts Concerts in the Park from June to August at various venues.
In Woodbine, the Kortright Centre for Conservation is a natural oasis and environmental educational centre on 800 acres of pristine woodland. Kortright is the province’s premier environmental and renewable energy education and demonstration centre. Since 1982, Kortright has been a centre of excellence in the field of sustainable technology. The facility hosts nearly 135,000 visitors annually and offers over 50 environmental education programs for schools and 30 sustainable technology workshops for the public, trades and professionals. The most popular of Kortright’s events, however, is the annual Maple Sugar Festival, which features demonstrations of syrup making as it was done in the days of the pioneers.
Vaughan Mills, located at Highway 400 and Rutherford Road, is one of the GTA’s most popular shopping attractions, with over 200 outlets, shops and services. It also includes entertainment attractions like Hollywood’s Lucky Strike Lanes, Pro Hockey Life, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.
At Highway 7 and Jane Street is another large shopping district, the Colossus Centre, which features a slew of outlet and big box stores, plus a 19-screen Cineplex.
The Promenade Shopping Centre, located on Bathurst Street in Thornhill, has over 170 stores and includes a T&T Supermarket and cinemas.
Vaughan mass transit is served by the York Regional Transit/Viva system, which links the entire region and includes connections to Toronto and the Region of Peel. More than 22 million people used the system in 2012. Currently, YRT is building a bus rapidway along Highway 7, between the Richmond Hill Centre (where the new subway extension will end) to Warden Avenue. The City of Vaughan is surrounded by several major highways, including Highways 400, 401, 404, 407 and 427, making it easy to commute anywhere in the GTA and beyond.
Eat your heart out
There is a great variety of dining options in Vaughan. Because of the multicultural nature of the region, excellent Chinese, Thai, Japanese, South American, Mexican, Indian, Turkish, Continental and Italian restaurants abound.
Woobridge, Concord, Thornhill, Kleinburg and Maple are the vibrant communities that make up Vaughan, a multicultural city with a fast-growing population of more than 290,000.