The Milliken area was originally called Milliken’s Corners. It was a hamlet founded in 1807 by Norman Milliken, a United Empire Loyalist from New Brunswick. He settled on Lot 1 Concession V, Markham in 1807. The community consisted of a church, two blacksmith shops, a wagon maker, two hotels and two general stores. The area name has been on Borough Community maps and provides a link with history dated back to 1807.
The most noteworthy members of the Milliken family were Norman, his sons Benjamin and Norman, and grandson William.
(July 11, 1771 – Feb. 2, 1843)
Norman’s father established a British settlement in Massachusetts, which he called Scarborough. During the American rebellion he offered his services to a British garrison under the command of a General McLean. This involved the transportation of lumber and supplies through rebel lines. He was captured by the rebels and his family suffered many hardships. They fled to New Brunswick and subsequently settled at the corner of Steeles and Kennedy Roads in 1807. Norman and his two brothers established a lumbering business, supplying the British navy. They built a hotel and livery stables. A post office was granted official status on April 1, 1859.
(Feb. 28, 1794 – July 3, 1863)
Norman’s son, Benjamin, enlisted as a private in the York Militia at the beginning of the war of 1812 at the age of 18. He fought valiantly at the Battle of Queenston Heights. He participated in quelling William Lyon McKenzie’s rebellion in 1837. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of major.
In 1851, Benjamin donated the land and built one of the first schools in the Milliken areas (SS #8). He provided free room and board to the first teacher, Ellen Elizabeth Paul. By 1855, SS #8 was on the side of the side road still on the Milliken farm. When it burned down it was replaced in 1888 by a red brick schoolhouse.
(July 2, 1834 – Aug. 10, 1918)
Benjamin’s son, William, became a prominent area farmer and municipal politician. The History of York County 1855 provides on page 299, the following:
“Since he has had possession of the farm he has considerably
improved and beautified it by planting hedgerows, etc. He
is believed to have the best stock of Durham cattle and
Cotswold sheep in the section. He has been seven years a
member in the Municipal Council, and four years in the
County Council. He at present occupies the position of
Postmaster, and is a lieutenant in the militia.”
As the Kennedy Road in Scarborough ended at Steeles, and the Markham Concession Road continued northward about a quarter mile east, both separated by the Toronto Nipissing Railway, Milliken was not the typical crossroad community.
The post office, established in 1859, stood on the Markham side of the town line but served both townships. The local church, known as Ebenezer, began on the Scarborough side of Steeles, but moved across the road into Markham in 1878 where it still stands today. The early families: Milliken, Thomson, Rennie, Harding, Hood, Hagerman and L’Amoreaux could be found on both sides of the Town Line.
To the Milliken community, municipal boundaries were just lines on a map and the community’s history can be found in the Archives of both Scarborough and Markham.
Scarborough School Section #2 first served the children of Milliken from a log school on the north east corner of Finch and McCowan. It was destroyed by fire in 1851. A new frame school was built in 1853 and was replaced by a new brick building in 1901. It was later renamed A.P.Wheler P.S. That school was demolished in 1968 to improve the intersection of Finch and McCowan.
Between 1929 and 1953, students living along Steeles Avenue in Scarborough had an option to attend Milliken Public School in Markham, but that option ceased when the Scarborough Board of Education was established in 1954. Known as the Union School, it served children from both Markham and Scarborough and was located on Steeles Avenue at Midland. That building has also been demolished.
People today, still confuse two Markham schools using the Milliken name with our own TDSB Milliken Public School!
Although the new Milliken Public School is located on land settled by Benjamin Johnson, the Milliken family name has remained prominent in the area. This is because of the accomplishments of Norman Milliken and his descendants.