The Cornell community was conceived in the early 1990s, with development starting in 1999. Considering its relatively new history, it’s roots are surprisingly interesting! Read on to discover where Cornell is, how it was developed, and why people love living there!
Location, Boundaries, Divisions
The neighbourhood is located in the northeast part of Markham and is part of the Greater Toronto Area. It is mostly bordered by farmland and the Rouge River Valley. Highway 407 sits at its southern boundary with Ninth line to the west and Donald Cousens Parkway on the east side.
The area is unofficially and “loosely” divided into three pockets – the original Cornell, Upper Cornell and Grand Cornell. The original Cornell is located between Highway 7 and 16th Avenue west of Ninth Line. Upper Cornell is located between 16th Avenue and Major Mackenzie east of Ninth Line, and Grand Cornell is located between Highway 7 and the 407 east of Ninth Line.
Why is it called Cornell?
The area was named after William Cornell, a Rhode Island resident related to the founder of Cornell University, Ezra Cornell. William immigrated to Scarborough, Ontario, in 1799. His later descendants settled in Markham, marrying into the Reesor family, who had a homestead on Reesor Road.
Conception & Development
The Cornell community was designed as a ‘new urbanism’ experiment. This experiment was aimed to transform the neighbourhood’s urban culture. Therefore, the plan was to emphasise the promotion of family, community, and better living opportunities.
What was originally identified as an empty and poorly accessible part of the city has been transformed into a highly established residential area.
The experiment has labelled it as a sustainable community that falls within the “smart growth” category. To explain, this means that there has been a concentration on growing the population. This has resulted in business and residents flocking to the community, attracted by the mix of diverse housing, great transport links and amenities.
The walkable neighbourhood defines the culture here as a self-sufficient community. Its residents’ commuting needs are at their sole discretion as the community has everything they need. For example, Cornell Park Avenue allows residents to commute to Old Markham Village Main Street without the need to drive, although it is only five minutes away. Consequently, the population has increased incredibly to 210,000.
In light of such success, the community experiment was awarded the Markham 2006 Design Excellence award due to its recognition of promoting urban design excellence.
Cornell – Housing
The area is unique in that most of the houses have detached garages with laneway access. Therefore, this keeps most roads and houses clear of parked cars and adds to the area’s aesthetics. Many of these detached garages have a secondary dwelling unit above the garage. These are called ‘coach houses’. Coach houses are typically one-bedroom apartments with a kitchen and bathroom. They are very handy and can be rented for extra income or become home offices, nanny suites, home gyms, or teenager hide-aways!
Cornell – Retail and Businesses
In 2004, a residential and retail development plan was approved at the southern end. However, this never materialized, and consequently, residential homes fill the space. It also boasts Cornell Lake and has natural ponds carrying Little Rouge Creek’s waters.
Instead, Bur Oak Avenue is where many of the businesses are. This is the main artery that hosts small businesses that cater to community needs. There are clinics, retails stores, and a community centre. The Cornell Community Centre is a hub for education, sports, fitness, community groups, and projects. It has a modern library and state-of-the-art facilities. It’s most used is an indoor track, recreation hall and pool.
Cornell Community – Parks
This area is home to numerous parks and recreation amenities. Two of the parks have outdoor ice rinks for winter skating.
- Benjamin Marr Park – a large park with a children’s playground and splash pad
- Upper Cornell Park – a large grass area with a splash pad
- Grand Cornell Park – has a clock tower & bell honouring Reesor settlers
- New Union Park – is named for war veteran McCowan Freeman (Royal Air Force)
- Cornell Rouge Woods Park – has a children’s playground and nature walking
- White Hills Park – has a children’s playground
- John Stegman Woods Park/Black Walnut Park – a densely-treed area with a children’s playground.
Cornell Community – Schools
There are 3 elementary schools –
- Cornell Village Schoool
- Rouge Park Public School
- Little Rouge Public School
Additionally, there is one high school –
- Bill Hogarth Secondary
All of which are excellent schools. For more information on these schools and all the other schools in Markham, click here.
Cornell Community – Health & Safety
Cornell is considered a safe, secure community. The Markham Road Watch Program continuously monitors public interest and safety to ensure that unsafe and dangerous driving concerns are eradicated.
The community is rich in health services. Specifically, there are many wellness clinics available, and of course, the Markham Stouffville hospital is conveniently located across the southern border.
In conclusion, Cornell has great homes, parks, schools and amenities. Because of this and the way it has been designed, Cornell’s residents have a great sense of community, and there are growing community groups, events and things to do there. Consequently, all in all, it is a wonderful place to live!