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History of King, Ontario
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King features a picturesque countryside, of which the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine are the most prominent visible geographical element. The Holland Marsh, considered to be Ontario's "vegetable basket", straddles King Township and Bradford West Gwillimbury. King is also known for its prestigious horse farms and cattle farms.
Though King Township is predominantly rural, most of its residents are concentrated in the communities of King City, Nobleton, and Schomberg.
King Township is named for Major John King, an English Under-Secretary of State from 1794 to 1801 for the Home Department in the Portland administration. The township was created as part of the subdivision of York County, itself a subdivision of the Home District. The lands were originally acquired by the British in an agreement with the Mississaugas, known as the Toronto Purchase; it was enacted in British parliament as the Toronto Purchase Act in 1787. Approximately 86,840 acres (351 km2) of land were administered by the township in 1878, according to the Historical Atlas of York County, but by 1973 this had been reduced to 82,000; some of its land has been ceded to what are now known as Newmarket, Aurora and Oak Ridges.
Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe planned Yonge Street, which was built between 1793 and 1796 by the Queen's Rangers. By 1801, Timothy Rogers, a Loyalist from Vermont, had travelled the road and found an area on its western boundary immediately southwest of Newmarket very appealing. He applied for and received a grant for land totalling 40 farms, each of 200 acres (0.8 km2), and subsequently returned to Vermont to recruit families to operate those farms. By February 1802, he had set out for King Township with the first group of settlers for those forty farms. A second group followed later that month.
The area would become known as Armitage, the first of King's settlements, and now part of Newmarket. Soon after the establishment of Armitage, the communities of Kettleby and Lloydtown were established to the west. More settlers arrived from New York, Pennsylvania, and other Loyalist enclaves over the subsequent years to populate the region, drawn by the abundant, fertile land being apportioned relatively cheaply to newcomers.
The first survey of King Township, conducted in 1800 by Stegmann, indicated a population of twenty residents. By 1809, the population had increased sevenfold, to 160.
There is some evidence of a large Huron encampment at Hackett Lake. Residents in the area in the 1950s and 1960s would discover arrowheads and other archaeological items indicating a Huron presence. This is consistent with the fact that the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, a major route used in the 17th and 18th centuries, passes through the township. The route was used by explorer Étienne Brûlé, who first travelled along the trail with twelve Huron guides in 1615.
Early settlements in the area developed primarily around gristmills and sawmills. These were important economic engines in the region during the 19th century, which resulted in the establishment of other communities and businesses nearby. Some settlements have since been abandoned, or are no longer communities per se, including Bell's Lake, Davis Corners, and King Ridge.
A map of the southern portion of King Township from 1878. At the time, the township's boundaries extended to Yonge Street. These lands, shown as lots 61-95 on the map, have since been ceded to Richmond Hill, Aurora, and Newmarket.
The township's boundaries are;
- East: Bathurst St.
- South: a line north of the King-Vaughan Road
- West: the Caledon/King Townline, which connects two roads (Caledon/King Townline North and Caledon/King Townline South) in a roughly straight line
- North: Highway 9 from the Caledon/King Townline to slightly east of Highway 27, then cuts north following branches of the Holland River until it meets Bathurst St.
Originally settled by United Empire Loyalists in the late 18th century, King is now influenced by the significant immigration and diversification resultant from its proximity to Toronto.
King Township's population grew by 1.7% between 1996 and 2001, most new residents settling in the communities of King City, Nobleton or Schomberg. The population density is 55.6 people per square kilometre; however, the Township is characterized by areas of extremely low density farming communities and the much higher density of its three major villages.
The median age of residents is 39.4; 30% of the population over 15 years of age is still single. Foreign-born residents accounted for 20% of the population. Only 3% of residents identify themselves as visible minorities.
Of residents 15 years of age or older, 28% have a university certificate, diploma or degree. Another 18% have a college certificate or diploma, and 10% have a trade certificate or diploma. However, there is variability between age groups, as younger people are increasingly participating in higher levels of education.
Nearly 15% of all employed residents work from home. Almost 3% walk or bike to work sites within the community; 5% use public transit, and 75% drive or are passengers in private vehicles, to reach work destinations within the Greater Toronto Area.
The participation rate in the work force is 72.4%, with a 3.6% unemployment rate. The largest industries are:
- Construction and Manufacturing: 24%
- Business services: 23%
- Wholesale and Retail Trade: 17%
- Health and Education: 12%
- Finance and Real Estate: 8%
The median income for two-parent families is $90,364. For single-parent families, the median income is $43,673. The average value of a dwelling in King is $386,416.
The township's residents have the following religious affiliation:
The Township of King is located half-way between Toronto and Barrie, stretching from Bathurst Street to just east of Highway 50. King is accessible by Highways 400, 27, 9 and 11.
Public transportation is provided by York Region Transit (bus service) and GO Transit (bus and train services), but their services are limited in the township due to low population density. King City GO Station is the only train station in the township. York Region Transit's services are confined to the southeastern area, and GO bus serves the Nobleton and King City communities.
Seneca College owns a campus located in the northeastern portion of King Township, where the College offers a broad range of programs.
King's earliest settlement, Armitage, is now part of Newmarket, and was quickly succeeded by Lloydtown and Kettleby. Subsequent settlements were founded proximally to rivers, which provided the energy necessary to operate various mills. The earliest were based in Laskay, Kinghorn, and Eversley. The hamlet of Springhill was established later and flourished; it was renamed King City, now the largest population centre in the township.
Eversley is a hamlet that, although it has its own historical development, has slowly been subsumed into King City. It lies on King City's north-eastern edge, just south of Snowball.
Glenville is a hamlet located in northeastern King, just south of the community of Ansnorveldt.
Heritage Park is a community of King City. It is a natural and wildlife park characterized by ravines and creeks, some of which feed the East Humber River. Portions of the park are in the King City Trail.
Kinghorn is a hamlet community of King City, located at the Jane Street-King Road intersection. It is a sparse residential area adjacent to Highway 400, and is home to the King Township Museum and The Kingbridge Centre.
Laskay is a hamlet located just west of King City and south of the King Road—Weston Road intersection.
Snowball is a growing hamlet located just north of Eversley, west of Aurora.
Other hamlets in King include Elm Pine Trail, Holly Park, Linton, and New Scotland.
In the township, there are eleven sites designated Heritage Sites, including:
- King Station was built in 1852 along the Northern Railway to serve Springhill (now King City). It was moved in 1989 to the grounds of the King Township Museum. It is believed to be the oldest surviving railway station in Canada, and was designated a heritage site in 1990.
- King Emmanuel Baptist Church, formerly the King Christian Church until 1931, it was moved to the grounds of the King Township Museum in 1982, and designated a heritage site in 1992.
- King City Cemetery, established in 1886, was designated a heritage site in July 2007.
- King City Cemetery Dead House built circa 1887 was designated a heritage site in 2001. It is an octagonal structure that was used to preserve the dead during the winter, during which grave-digging was not feasible. Octagonal dead houses were unique to the area bordering Yonge Street north of Toronto during the late 19th and early 20th century.
- Eversley Presbyterian Church, a stone structure built in 1848, demonstrates the Scottish influence common in the area's early development. It was designated in 1984.
- Glenville Methodist Church, a small frame structure built in 1859, which remained operational until 1952. It was designated in 1983 as a township heritage site.
- King Christian Church Cemetery was the first burial grounds for Kettleby, built in 1850. It was designated a heritage site in 1986.
- Laskay Temperance Hall, built in 1859 by the Sons of Temperance. It had been operated by the Laskay Women's Institute since 1910, and is now operated by the municipality. It was designated a Heritage Site in 1986.
The township's municipal tax revenue is divided into three streams. One portion is combined with that from other municipalities for education purposes, a second portion is used to finance regional projects managed by York Region, and the last portion is used for local services.
The most significant cultural service provided via municipal funding is the King Township Public Library, which operates four branches in the township.
Waste management is provided through the region, and is co-ordinated with programs offered in other towns in York Region. Weekly green bin compost collection began in September 2007 to complement the weekly Blue Box collection of recyclable material; collection of all other waste was reduced to once every two weeks. Water and wastewater management is operated by the township, though these services are not available ubiquitously; some areas rely on well water and septic tanks.