The first European settlement in Markham developed when William Moll Berczy, a German artist and developer led a group German families to North America. In May of 1794, Berczy dealed with Simcoe for 64,000 acres in Markham Township, soon to be known as the German Company Lands.The Berczy settlers, blended with several Pennsylvania German families, set out for Upper Canada.Sixty-four families appeared that year and their first few years tested difficult, as a result of harsh winters and crop failures.
Markham's early years (1794-1830) were defined by the difficulty of homesteading and the development of agricultural industries. With improved transportation routes such as Yonge Street and the expanding population, urbanisation increase. By 1857, most of the township had been cleared of hardwood and the land was under cultivation. Villages like Thornhill, Unionville and Markham expanded and new, specialised industries such as wagon works, tanneries, farm implement manufacturers and furniture factories sprang up.
On September 14, 1871, the Toronto and Nipissing Railway Company, with stations in Unionville and Markham, officially opened its Scarborough-Uxbridge line. Local industries were simply unable to challenge with the larger suppliers in the city. As a result, Markham returned to being a quietly productive agricultural community.
In 1971, The Regional Municipality of York was established by the Province of Ontario and a large portion of the was incorporated into the Town of Markham.