In 2009, Bob Stiver and long time Unionville activist, Jeanne Ker-Hornell, started the Unionville Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market, to raise public awareness of the Mill’s state of disrepair and gain support for its restoration.
The City of Markham allowed the Market to set up on the grounds beside the Mill, assisted with grounds maintenance, providing picnic tables and garbage cans.
Bob and Jeanne worked hard to solicit farmers, vendors, and volunteers. The official grand opening took place in June 2009 with the Mayor and Council members present.
Along with the great fruits and vegetables from local farmers, the market had baked goods, meats, flowers, hand made items, and more. Live entertainment too! Jeanne came up with the idea for a Farmers’ Wives Table, selling “decent donated articles” from the local villagers at reasonable prices. It was a huge success and ran for many years, until Jeanne retired.
The Market quickly became a gathering place for the community, especially for the seniors living on the nearby campus. It’s success, and the attention it brought to the Mill, contributed significantly to the Stiver Mill’s restoration. Since opening, the market only missed the 2013 season, due to Phase 1 restoration work being done on the building.
With Phase 1 restoration completed, the market reopened in 2014. Judi McIntyre was hired as Business Manager and Special Events were introduced like Artists Day, Dog Day, and a Butter Tart Baking Contest. That fall, a new smaller market was started inside of the newly restored building. This indoor market ran until Christmas, and has continued every year since.
The Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market was unique. It was the only known Ontario farmers’ market created and managed solely by volunteer seniors and high school students.
Seniors Bob Stiver and Jeanne Ker-Hornell, co-managed the Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market for years. Both Bob and Jeanne have received many awards including the Mayor’s Hall of Fame Award for their volunteer service over the years.
Seniors Laurence Breckon, Marie Breckon, Charlene Busato, Eileen Stiver Chadwick and Doris Couperthwaite have been key volunteers over the years, helping supervise the student volunteers and ensuring everything runs smoothly. Senior volunteers were essential to staffing the Farmers’ Wives Table. The Wyndham Gardens Association, led by Mavis Collingwood, have successfully aided in applications for Federal and Municipal grants.
Groups of enthusiastic and dedicated high school student volunteers have been essential in the running of the market. Students arrive early to help with set up, assist with various duties during the day, and then work hard to put everything away at the end. Many of the students earn more than 100 hours Volunteer Community Service, rather than the 40 volunteer hours required for graduation.
In 2014, Judi McIntyre (also a senior) was hired to take over the business side of the Market (dealing with bookings, paying bills, etc). Bob and Jeanne were then able to focus on other market responsibilities and managing the volunteers.
After many years of dedication, Jeanne, Bob, and Judi have all retired from their market duties.
Kimberley Kwan took over as Market Manager in 2018.