Thanksgiving Weekend    October 8, 9, & 10th, 2016


          In 1840’s Upper Canada oatmeal, grist, woolen, carding, flour, and sawmills to name a few, were the focal point for commerce and settlement.
          Agricultural fairs where popular for they encouraged mill owners, farmers and their families, business owners in towns and residents to meet and have a good time before the winter months. There might have been flour sack races, fiddle music, dancing and entries in apple pie, quilt or farm animal contests.
          John Gamble, a Pine Grove Mill owner in 1847, organized the 1st fair near his mill and held the position of President until 1859. Fairs became a platform for politicians with Gamble voted as 1st Reeve of Vaughan Twp 1851-1858 and Member of the Upper Canada Government representing York County.
          The 2nd Fair in 1848 was held in Burwick (former name of Woodbridge) near Wallace Street on the Humber River flat lands property of John Abell, owner of Woodbridge Agricultural Works that manufactured horse-drawn steam engines, farm equipment and even stage coaches. During his tenure as President of the Woodbridge Agricultural Society 1860-1886 and Reeve of the 1st Woodbridge Village Council 1882-1885, much of the Woodbridge Fairgrounds to-day was secured.

          Fast track to the 1980’s and 1990’s when century farms were sold to developers to build industry and subdivisions that, in our midst today, offers employment, business opportunities, shopping and homes to thousands of City of Vaughan families and beyond. Plowing matches, livestock contests and horse racing needed to be replaced. The future of the fair was dependent on finding solutions and fast! 

          From a visit to the Elmira Fair, Woodbridge Agricultural Society Directors Jack and Laurie Maynard asked what was the most important venture that helped them and they said Demolition Derbies. For some exciting years, crowds were entertained and then took time to enjoy the fair with their families.

          The Cow Milking Contest has been a tradition for 32 years thanks to the Gerald and Lois Livingston Family of Sunny Maple Farms and their gentle Holsteins. Vaughan Mayor Lorna Jackson in the 1st Year issued a challenge to GTA Mayors, Mississauga Hazel McCallion, Newmarket Ray Twinney, Richmond Hill Al Duffy and others. The rivalry of political foes was “milked to the brim” so to speak in 1983! Vaughan Firefighters, York Regional Police and Vaughan Council Members have milked a cow too!
          A Hoedown Hall and Children’s Building radiated with old time fiddling, accordion music and puppet shows all managed by Mark, Maggie Haines and Family. The Pioneer Building began to take shape thanks to Louis, Joy Theriault and Family. The Unbelievable Doo Doo the Clown, Ken Jen Petting Zoo and Townsend Amusement’s Ferris Wheels and Merry Go Rounds made smiles happen.
          Since the 1800’s to present the traditional Prize List competitions have continued such as Agricultural Products, Floriculture, Culinary Arts, Needlework, Crafts and Art for all ages. Last but not least the Giant Pumpkin & Vegetable Contest Weigh-in has become very popular!
Article written by Linda Mae Maxey, a Director of the Woodbridge Agricultural Society
         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.



Village of Woodbridge Scene – Woodbridge War Memorial – Humber River