How do you end a community history? You could finish the story at a time in history when most of the community's present infrastructure is in place. For Richmond Hill, that could be the end of the 1920s. By that time, the greenhouse industry had established itself as the dominant commercial activity and major employer in the village. Richmond Hill had its new arena and waterworks system, its modern high school and Jail Farm, its revamped fire brigade and weekly traffic court. Women had assumed a more prominent role in public life, and the automobile had bested the radial car for control of Yonge Street.
How do you end a community history? You have to recognize that any terminal date is somewhat arbitrary. The evolution of Richmond Hill certainly did not cease in the decade of the 1920s. Even while villagers saluted the past and acknowledged the first fifty years of municipal life at the Grand Re-Union of Old Boys and Girls in 1923, they helped usher in another half-century and more of Richmond Hill growth and development.
How do you end a community history? You suggest some of the ongoing themes and issues that will dominate Richmond Hill life in subsequent decades. How did the village survive the economic shock of the 1930s and the wartime trauma of the 1940s? Were the moves from village to town status, and from old municipal limits to enlarged boundaries, accomplished with unanimity or rancour? Who and what provided the motivation for the development of major residential subdivisions and huge shopping malls from the 1960s through the 1990s?
And what has happened to the old neighbouring hamlets? Why did some, like Headford Mills and Dollar, vanish from the map? Why did others, like Oak Ridges, continue to develop? What similarities and differences exist between the Oak Ridges of the 1990s and the Oak Ridges of the 1920s? Is the enlarged Richmond Hill of today one community or many communities?
Early Days in Richmond Hill: A History of the Community to 1930 tells only the first half of the story. Sometime in the future a sequel may be needed to chronicle modern days in Richmond Hill and the development of the community since 1930.
Copyright © Richmond Hill Public Library Board, 1991