Thanksgiving Weekend    October 10, 11 & 12th, 2015

A History of Woodbridge

A History of the Woodbridge Fair

A Story of the Early Years of the Fair

The Woodbridge Agricultural Society's "Fair"

Past Presidents of the Woodbridge Agricultural Society

Past Secretaries and Treasurers of the Woodbridge Agricultural Society

Past Recipients of the Agricultural Service Diploma

Mr. Amos Maynard of the Woodbridge Carriage Works

Aftermath of Tornado in Woodbridge 2009


of the

          The first fair was instituted at Pine Grove in 1847, under the auspices of the West York Agricultural Society and the Vaughan Agricultural Society, with John Gamble as President and W. Harvey as Secretary. It was located on property owned by Mr. Gamble and now known as Gamble Avenue in Pine Grove.
          A year later the fair was held in Burwick on the Humber flats on property owned by John Abell; the property was located near where the Woodbridge Memorial Arena now stands just east of Wallace Street. There were no buildings at this time. A rented tent protected the fine arts; fowls remained in their travelling crates; cattle were tethered to fence posts; sheep and pigs were penned in shelters made by placing fence rails in a triangular shape and the horses were fed and stabled by the five Village Hotels.
          Some years later Levi Snider generously donated material for the construction of a suitable two-storey building to house the fine arts; ladies’ work and fruit on the upper floor, and roots, vegetables and carriages on the ground floor.
          The two Agricultural Societies – The West York and Vaughan – continued to regulate the business of the Woodbridge Fair with the president of the former and larger society then the presiding officer of the Fair Board, until they amalgamated in 1890 and were then known as the Woodbridge Agricultural Society.

          In the 1880’s, the Vaughan Agricultural Society wished to have the fair transferred to Weston so a vote was held. This was the year that the Ontario Legislature passed an Act that Agricultural Fairs must be permanently located and that wherever they were held the next year would be their permanent abode. Consequently they could acquire land and have permanent buildings. In order to be a voting member it was necessary to pay a membership fee then, as is now. So, John Abell closed his factory on voting day and he and a number of other men (T.F. Wallace, Donald McKenzie, John G. Hallett, Amos Maynard and William Farr, amoung others) probably paid for all the Abell employees. When the vote came to determine where the Fair should be held the next year, Woodbridge won by a large majority and, of course, it has been in Woodbridge ever since.

          In 1882 the present property was purchased from Wm. Farr and Mr. Brawley, this was the same year that Burwick changed its name to Woodbridge. In October 1886 the Fair was held on the new grounds. From time to time small parcels of land have been purchased and buildings erected or enlarged until at present there are eight large buildings for various exhibits. The grounds, which consist of 20 acres of land, are still owned and operated by the Woodbridge Agricultural Society.

          The Fair was organized to allow local farmers to improve livestock breeds and harvest crops. The ladies became involved in the competition by entering their preserves, quilting, home baking, knitting and fancy work. More recently the Fair has had to move from a strictly farm Fair to a family education and fun fair due to the decrease of farms in the Woodbridge area.
         In the early days of the Fair, the Toronto Grey and Bruce narrow-gauge railway rendered inestimable service to the Village by running many specials from Toronto on Fair days. In the 1920’s and 1930’s the Fair was advertised as the “Biggest Country Fair in the Dominion of Canada”. People would come from miles around to attend, staying at one of the five local hotels. All the elite of Toronto Society – the Mayor and his wife; the members of the Board of Control and City Council with their wives; members of both Provincial and Dominion Parliaments – attended the Fair in their best regalia. Some very notable person was always on hand to open the Fair.

          Thanksgiving Day has been associated with the Woodbridge Fair since 1918. The third Tuesday and Wednesday of October were Fair days until the year the Fair was hit by a heavy snow storm. In 1914 the second Tuesday and Wednesday were chosen and in 1918 the Fair was held Thanksgiving Day and the preceding Saturday. From 1920 to 1931 it was held the second Friday and Saturday, and from 1932 it was held Thanksgiving Day and the preceding Saturday. For many years the Fair was not held on Sunday but times changed and in 1970 the Fair expanded from two to a three day event held on Thanksgiving Weekend.


         The Society today is a local group of approximately 60 members who work hard each year to bring an agricultural Fair to the community. Over the years the programme and focus has changed but the Society continues to provide the same country Fair feeling.




The Finest Little Town Between North Toronto and the North Pole

“A Fine Place to Live”

         POPULATION upwards of 1,000 and growing fast. Located on the Canadian Pacific Railway (Main Line “Toronto to Vancouver”). 7 Passenger trains each day to and from Toronto – 40 minutes’ run –“16 miles.” Also served by Radial Electric Car to Toronto each hour up to midnight. Also excellent motor roads to Toronto and all surrounding districts, with Bus Service to Toronto.
12 miles North West of Toronto. 17 miles right down town. 40-minute drive, by good road.

The Town is right on the beautiful Humber River. Excellent bathing, boating and fishing. It is fast becoming the leading Summer Tourist Rendezvous for thousands over the week ends during the summer months. Wonderful scenery – a grand place to Picnic and Rest. There is held annually, for two days, the largest Rural Fair in the Dominion, crowds of about 20,000 attending on one day alone. The finest half mile track in Canada.

Our town supports an Intermediate Lacrosse Team, a Hockey Team, a Football Team, a Ladies' Softball Team, and has a new Municipal Bowling Green. Fine Athletic Field. Lots of outdoor sports and real old-fashioned friendship.

Two Golf Courses are within easy distance, the Thistledown, 4 miles away, and the famous Weston Course, 7 miles away.

Taxes are low, only about 15 per cent as much as demanded in large cities. The Town is almost free of debt. Land is cheap and many choice lots can be bought at from $5 to $10 frontage per foot. Come out here and grow some chickens. Have your pet dog, and see your children grow up amidst healthy, pleasant surroundings.

We have the cheapest Electric Power in the world, “Hydro Electric,” both for domestic and manufacturing purposes. Our domestic rate is 2.c per K.W. hour, and our manufacturing rates are 3.1 c per K.W.H. for first 50 hours, 2.c per K.W.H. for second 50 hours, .5c for remaining consumption. Our plant is all paid up, and we have earned a surplus of $5,738.62. All streets are well lighted. The average house rate per month seldom exceeds $1.00.

The Town is served by an up-to-date waterworks system. Pure spring water, sparkling and cool all the time. Cheap frontage charges and cheap rates for water. This means convenience for you and better fire protection with low insurance rates.

We have a partial system of storm sewers, and a complete system of sanitary sewers contemplated.

We want manufacturers to locate here because we have low wages, lots of help, cheap sites, low taxes, cheap power, good water, and easy accessibility to a large market.

The Town has already three manufacturers, and invites inspection from others. We want you!

Here are some other conveniences. We offer you three churches (Anglican, Presbyterian and United), two doctors, one druggist, one hardware store, one butcher, one hotel, four grocers, one shoe shop, one gents’ furnishings store, one print shop, two barber shops, to implement shops, ice cream parlors etc.


Woodbridge Public School is a four-roomed building with spacious class-rooms, well heated and ventilated, and the playground is large and well kept. The average attendance is one hundred and thirty-two, and all grades of Public and High School are taught up to the Middle School.

Entrance to the Normal, with Latin and French for Junior Matriculation. The record of this school in the past is one of which every citizen should be proud.


Reeve – Wm. J. Mitchell.

Councillors – Dr. G.D. McLean, Major Alex. A. Mackenzie, Fred. A. Bagg and Thos. Cole.

Clerk and Treasurer –Ed. W. Brown

Board of Trade – C.L. Wallace, President; L.H. Leach, Secretary-Treasurer

Information cheerfully and promptly given by the Town Clerk or the Board of Trade.

Come on out and live. You’ll like it.


C.L. WALLACE, Secretary


BROWN’S PRINT SHOP, Woodbridge, Ont.

In 1925 the above article was distributed during the Woodbridge Fair & we hope you enjoy!!

Thank you to the City of Vaughan Archives, Mr. Ken Maynard & Mrs. Connie McCallum for sharing the old time photos & this 1925 article that are printed in this 2009 Prize Book.

Researched by Director Linda Mae Maxey

Village of Woodbridge Scene – Woodbridge War Memorial – Humber River