Plaque Program for Historical Homes on Peter Street, Mount Joy

The MVC's mandate is to strengthen the sense of community in Village of Markham, with one of our projects being the Train Station restoration. It was in looking for another project that the MVC decided to mark the Bicentennial of the arrival of the early Mennonite settlers, the Abraham Ramer Family, to Mount Joy, Markham Village in 1809. To honour the event, the Conservancy decided that offering voluntary, subsidized plaques to the Heritage homes would be a good project.

The Ramers were significant to Markham's history because they were among the first Mennonites to establish farms in Mount Joy, Markham. They engaged in a diverse range of businesses including a sawmill, a furniture factory, a cider mill, and a health spa known as the Springdale Mineral Baths. Descendents Peter and Jonas Ramer built bridges and supervised the construction of Main St. Markham from Steeles to Stouffville Road. Jonas' farm supplied the entire Town of Markham with its water from his spring at his farm. It was Jonas who subdivided his farm in 1891, naming Peter Street in honour of his father Peter. Today, the southern part of Peter Street is one of the most intact 19th century village streetscapes in all of Markham, with many houses dating from the 1890s.

It was fortunate for the Conservancy that one member, Donna Knight, on her own volition had completed the entire history of Historic Peter St. years before. She willingly donated her extensive research to the Conservancy and her neighbors for this celebration. The members then spent much time developing the design of the plaque, sourcing out dealers, deciding on wording and specific colours. The colour "Prussian Blue" was eventually decided as it represented the colours of Mount Joy's namesake in Pennsylvania, USA.

The Conservancy then went through the proper channels required by the Town of Markham and its Heritage Department to gain acceptance for the program. Council was thrilled about the project with many councilors wanting the same plaques in their own Heritage Districts. Heritage Markham kindly offered to provide a matching grant from the Heritage Reserve Fun. It would be a three way partnership between the MVC, Town of Markham and the Community. Despite the odds the Conservancy received an overwhelming response to the program resulting in twenty-two Heritage Homeowners on Peter (Ramer) St agreeing to this educational, voluntary plaque. (The MVC gets frequent requests for more plaques.)

The cast aluminum plaque cost $400.00. The MVC and the Town each contributed $150 for a total of $300. Each participating homeowner was obliged to pay only $100. The plaques were scripted with the name of the original or significant owner, their occupation and date of construction. In addition, inscribed was "Mount Joy – Markham Village Heritage District".

It was then that Heritage Markham decided to create an Interpretive Plaque for Mount Joy and Peter St. The MVC then arranged for a celebration to take place with a plaque unveiling, Homeowners to receive their plaques from the Mayor and to celebrate the family's Bicentennial arrival to the area.

The picture gallery at the top show the event and smiles that everyone had in acknowledging this once in a lifetime event. Unfortunately, there are no more descendents of the Abraham Ramer family left and it was because of this very successful program that has created a time capsule for future generations. Our program is a hallmark in how community partnerships can work together.

 Click here to view the invitation to the plaque opening from 2009