York’s Founding Fathers – Maple and Nobleton
Just north of Toronto sits a small community with a big heart. It had not always been that way. Early in the 1800’s, the south end was nothing but swamp. In 1829, a road was built through this swamp and a town was soon born. Its maple tree lined roads give the town the feel of past times. Yet, it is the seat of the Vaughan Township’s municipal affairs. Miles away, four corners became a prospering village. I am proud to introduce you to Maple’s and to Nobleton’s founding father – Joseph Noble.
Joseph Noble was born in 1802 in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland. He was the younger brother of Thomas Noble who was born in 1795. Taking the long sea journey, both of the brothers came to Canada before 1837.
After a brief stay in Toronto, Joseph bought some land. Joseph would go on to buy Lot 5, on the 9th concession in King Township. This was at the crossroads of the now 14 Sideroad and the 9th concession. He bought the land from John Robinson, who was the original crown patent owner. Brother Thomas would live on the land. Joseph became the local tavern keeper in the fledgling town.
Joseph also bought land was located at lot 20 on the 3rd Concession in the township of Vaughan. This lot was located what would be the present south east corner of Keele Street and Major Mackenzie Drive. This area would be known as Noble’s Corners or Nobleville after Joseph.
Joseph Noble was also a rebel. Joseph was residing in Vaughan and working as a merchant by this time. He was participant in William Lyon Mackenzie’s uprising of December 1837. He was never arrested but was noted as being opposed to the Family Compact and its strict rules.
Joseph was a Wesleyan Presbyterian. It meant that he believed in the many issues of the Christian faith, but not to the extreme as the Roman Catholics. He became a parishioner of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
Joseph was a bachelor for a long while. He was in his forties when he met and fell in love with a local neighbour’s daughter. Sarah McQuarrie was the daughter of Lachlan and Catherine McInnis McQuarrie. Both of her parents had been deceased for quite a while, so she was residing with her brothers. She was born on May 6th, 1821 in Masonville, New York.
The couple were married by licence on October 19th, 1844 in Vaughan. Both her brothers John and Charles Harvey McQuarrie were witnesses to the marriage. On July 19, 1845, the couple would have their first child, Jane who was sometimes being called Jennie. Their first son, Arthur was born in 1847. Thomas Archibald would follow the next year.
In 1848, Joseph is listed as the postmaster for the town of Rupert, what Nobleville was then called. The name change was to honour Dr. Rupert, a prominent physician in the area. The name would flip-flop between Rupertsville and Nobleville for some time.
In 1851, Joseph is listed as a merchant in Vaughan on the 1851 census. On May 6th, 1851, the first post office opened in Nobleton with Joseph’s brother Thomas as the first postmaster. In 1852, the first permanent post office for Nobleville opened. Joseph would become the first postmaster of this office.
The Ontario, Huron and Simcoe railroad began to run in 1853. A station was placed in the village. The station was called Richmond Hill. The beginning of the railroad running through the village spurred a new economy to the community.
In 1854, Joseph would become one of the first members of the new Masonic Hall that was built just north of his store. At the time the freemasons were building new lodges based on the agricultural and rural base, as well as continuity as a group themselves. It would be 12 years before a merger of lodges would occur and a permanent Masonic Hall would be built.
A daughter named Rebecca Katherine was born to the couple in 1856. That same year, Joseph’s brother Thomas passes away on March 25th. The next postmaster, William Munsie changed the name of the Nobleton post office to Lammer Moor. Villagers protested and had the name changed back to Nobleton.
In 1861, Joseph was residing in Maple, along with his wife and family. Sarah’s niece Elizabeth was living with the couple. Her mother had passed away and her father was beginning a new farm in Grey Co. She was very lucky to be staying with the couple. This was benefital to the young lady being close to a village.
On October 22nd, 1866, Joseph’s son Arthur marries Ann Anderson Aitken. Ann immigrated to Canada to help her brother Reverend William with his housekeeping. He was now preaching in the village since 1865. On May 8th, 1867, Joseph’s eldest daughter Jane married the young Reverend William Aitken.
Two grandchildren were born to Joseph and Sarah. A grandson was born in 1868 with the parents of Arthur and Ann. Jane and William had a daughter named Sarah on March 1st, 1868.
Joseph would die on November 30th, 1868. His funeral was held in early December. He was buried in Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Nobleville.
His son Arthur would take over the duties of Post master from his father. Joseph’s children would go on and have many grandchildren, including William Maxwell Aitken, who was known as Lord Beaverbrook. Lord Beaverbrook was an international business tycoon, writer and politician in the UK parliament. The Noble family would go on to live in the Nobleville area for many years.
Nobleton is still called that to this day. Noble’s Corners or Noblesville would have one more name change. Early in the 1900’s, Canadian National Railway would purchase the Ontario, Huron and Simcoe Railway line. When it came to naming the station, locals recalled the beautiful old maple trees that lined the road. The station was now called Maple. The post office would soon follow suit.
You wouldn’t think that a merchant would be the namesake of two towns. Still towns are going strong today. You can almost feel the maple trees blowing in the wind when you drive through Maple. Nobleton still holds that small town charm. Thank you Joseph Noble.