Unionville Festival History

Learn the history of the Unionville Festival



History of Unionville Festival

There were fears of widening Kennedy Road happening South of Highway 7. Making its way North resulting in the demolition of the historic houses and buildings in its path. Residents rallied to show their disapproval of this possibility. They pushed for the building of the Kennedy Road By-pass and they showed their dedication to what was theirs to preserve and protect by staging the very first Unionville Villages Festival in the 1970s – what a legacy they created!


First Unionville Festival

First Unionville Village Festival organized by the Unionville Village Festival Committee consisting of community volunteers.

2004 Unionvile Festival Programming

The map is the original Festival Map, first used in 1970. No changes have been made to it, although the area itself has seen many changes. 


2nd Best Street Festival

The Unionville Festival was rated to be the 2nd best street festival in Ontario!

“O Yea! O Yea!”

The Town Crier and his wife (reflecting the heritage couple image) lead the parade and declare the official opening with the ceremonial historical “O Yea! O Yea!” declaration and announcement with the ringing of the bell to honour the origin of Unionville and the Unionville Festival. 


Christie Day and Rob Hyland were tasked with refreshing the image for the 40th Unionville Village Festival, to help promote beyond the immediate neighbourhood. They met with the UBIA, UV Historical Society, City of Markham Corporate Communications Dept. and the Festival Committee to research the background and reputation of the event. From that start, they continued designing the main brochure and signage through to the 50th festival in 2019.


The description on the dedication plaque that is mounted on the iron fence near the steps down to the parking lot on the east side summarizes the history of both the village and the Unionville Festival with the Heritage Couple icon at the top. They assisted in creating this plaque with the City of Markham for the 50th year in 2019, using the original 1986 message.

The bottom portion of the plaque honours both the initial preservation of the village in 1970 and the Unionville Village Festival Corporation that was established in 1986 to carry on the celebration honouring the preservation of Main Street.

We were directed by all of the groups involved to incorporate the Heritage Couple in the design and promotions. The City of Markham and the Unionville Committee also asked that we incorporate the official “heritage” font that had been developed for the sign at the corner of Main and Hwy. 7. The couple element was incorporated each year with the date and the type style was used to identify the Unionville Festival. We incorporate both elements from 2009 thru 2019. 

For the 50th festival in 2019, we met with the Markham Museum staff to discover what archives could best reflect the founding year, 1970. The content is reflected on the brochure cover and the poster/sign with the quote by Stan Neal, the first Unionville Festival Chair with “The Unionville Conservation and Development Association.” We learned that our good friend Alex Carter, along with his group “MUD,” was the first band to play at the 1970 Festival. Alex’s parents were members of the original Festival committee and, as you know, he still plays on the street.


Unionville BIA Organizes Unionville Festival

Unionville Business Improvement Area is now organizing the Unionville Festival alongside a group of dedicated community volunteers! 


What is next for Unionville Festival?

The Unionville Festival 2023 drew in over 30,000 visitors to Main Street on June 1st and 2nd! We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the Unionville Festival 2024, just before our Street Revitalization Project which is projected to conclude by the end of August 2024.