Stiver Mill, situated in the heart of Heritage Unionville, is Markham’s last standing grain elevator and feed mill. One of the few left in the Ontario with its original equipment. A key landmark of the village, it is a classic example of an early storage elevator. Stiver Mill is designated as a significant Industrial Heritage Resource under the Ontario Heritage Act.
In the early 1900s grain elevators and other storage buildings were constructed next to Unionville’s Train Station, on land leased from the railroad. In 1913, brother Charles and Francis Stiver started the Stiver Brothers Coal and Seed Company. Then, in 1916 they purchased and repaired the fire-damaged home of the Matthew Grain Company, establishing their business on Station Lane.
Stiver Mill served the early farming community with grain, seed, feed for livestock, coal and cement. Grains shipped from the Canadian west were often stored in the elevator’s grain bins. After Union Mills was destroyed by fire in 1934, Stiver Brothers added a feed mill to do the chopping needed for livestock feed. Stiver Brothers operated until 1968. Dominion Coal and Building Supplies became the next tenant. In 1993, the mill and adjoining property were purchased from CN Railroad by the City of Markham. It remained vacant and began to deteriorate over the years.
In 2008, the City put out an “Expression of Interest” looking for a company, group or individual that would be interested in restoring the historic structure and giving it a new purpose. The only one to submit an official reply was Bob Stiver.
In 2009, Bob Stiver and Jeanne Ker-Hornelll, with the support of the City, started the Unionville Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market. The purpose: to bring public attention to the plight of this historic site, while its restoration was being contemplated and planned.
In 2010, the City held a Visioning Workshop to get public input into possible uses for the Mill. A number of themes emerged: Food-related activities, Cultural, Educational and Environmental uses.
The Stiver Family was part of the prominent Berczy Pioneer Settlers that came to Unionville in 1794. The very first European baby born, that year in the Town of Markham, was a Stiver.
Over the years, the Stivers were involved in building, owning, leasing and living in more than 17 (now Heritage) houses, still standing in Unionville and elsewhere in Markham. The Stivers Brothers Coal and Seed company owned grain elevators and had businesses offices in Unionville and Stouffville, plus a warehouse in Aurora.
Bob Stiver is a direct descendant of that first Stiver baby born in Markham. Bob was born and raised in Unionville, living right next door to the Mill as a boy and working there after school.
In 2011, the City of Markham put funds into their budget to preserve the foundation and exterior of the Mill.
In 2012, the City of Markham received Federal infrastructure funding, enabling the restoration project to move forward. Work on Phase 1 on the restoration was complete in the spring of 2014. A community space was created inside, decorated with pictures, artifacts and a view of the original mill equipment. The exterior was restored and painted red. The official opening of the renovated building, now called the Stiver Mill Cultural Centre, took place in June 2014.
In 2017, the City of Markham received Federal funding for Phase 2 through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. The Stiver Mill Landscape Rehabilitation project began in the fall of 2017. It included; completion of the boardwalk to connect Unionville Main Street to Eureka Street, an environmentally friendly parking lot with permeable paving, landscaping and installation of lighting. Officially opening took place in May 2018.
The Stiver Mill is referred to as the Stiver Mill Cultural Centre and is available for rent for community use.
Rental inquiries: City of Markham at 905-477-7000 ext. 7104