Intro to Cathedraltown
Cathedraltown is a 225-acre mainly residential area with a population of 3000
residents. It was named after the Cathedral of Transfiguration, a striking catholic church that towers over the area.
The neighbourhood is located in the north end of the City of Markham. It is bordered in the north by Elgin Mills Road and in the south by Major Mackenzie road. To its east is Victoria Square Boulevard and to its west is Highway 404.
The Cathedral’s History
The cathedral was commissioned by the late mining magnate Stephen Roman and built on land he donated. Stephen modelled the design on a Byzantine church in the Slovakian town where Roman was born. There are three bell towers rising from the building which represent the Trinity. The three bells in the towers are the largest peal of bells globally, weighing a whopping 32,000 pounds! Pope John Paul II blessed the cornerstone and the cathedral’s altar in 1984, the same year that the church’s construction began. This was the first time a Roman Pontiff has blessed a church in North America! Unfortunately, Stephen Roman died four years into the project, leaving his daughter Helen Roman-Barber to finish his work.
The Cathedral Today
The building was the community centre until 2006 when the church closed its doors. This was mainly due to the Slovak Catholic Eparchy of Saints Cyril moving its seat to a Toronto church. During the next 10 years, work was done on the cathedral’s interior. When Jesus The King Melkite Greek Catholic Church needed a new location due to a fire in 2016, Markham City granted them a temporary permit to use the cathedral. The building still needs exterior work.
The design and construction of the homes around the cathedral were overseen by Helen Roman-Barber and Donald Buttress – a British architect who was ‘Surveyor of the Fabric’ at Westminster Abbey in London, England. Consequently, the town looks very much like 18th and 19th century London with its Regency and Georgian architecture. It has taken some time for the community to take root, but now the stores are being rented, and new condominiums have been built.
Roads and Transport
Cathedraltown is very well connected by transport routes provided by York Region Transit. Bus routes service all corners of the area and run to and from the Go
stations and TTC subway stations. The nearest GO stations are Richmond Hill and Unionville, which are less than a 15-minute drive.
Parks and Recreation
Cathedraltown has some great parks right in the community and on the outskirts if you are feeling like going a little bit further afield.
- Vine Cliff Park/John Payne Park – a well-treed park with a small children’s playground, a gazebo, lots of green space, a path that circles the field, and a trailhead running along Otter Tail Creek.
- Frisby Park – green fields with a children’s playground, some trees, tennis courts
- Mossy Stone Park – small green area
- Crescent Park – small parkette
- Victoria Square Park – a large park with a children’s playground and splash pad. Shaded areas, heritage orchard.
- Read’s Corner Park – a small park with a children’s playground.
- Joseph Ellerby Park – green space with a children’s playground.
There are two public elementary schools in the Cathedraltown neighbourhood and one private school. All have great reputations.
- Sir John A Macdonald Public School
- Sir Wilfred Laurier Public School
- Mastermind Montessori School
A Controversial Statue
In July 2017, the city erected a cow statue in one of the area’s parkettes to honour the prize-winning show cow affectionately called Charity . Although Stephen Roman raised Holstein cows on his farm and had a half share in Charity, the status was controversial becuase it came to light that Charity never actually visited Markham at all. A plaque installed with the statue mistakenly stated that Charity was raised on Romandale Farms when in fact, she hardly ever left Port Perry! The statue was also raised high on stilts which wasn’t popular with the townsfolk. Charity’s owner suggested it would look better on the ground and perhaps fenced for protection instead. He states, ‘The bottom side of the cow is not its best!’ The statue was lent to Markham Fairgrounds in 2019.
Summing up Cathedraltown
Cathedraltown is a growing community, which has taken a long time to take root. However, it is now flourishing and is a popular and serene place to live.