Arts and Culture
In 2006, the town of Whitchurch–Stouffville developed and adopted Municipal Cultural Policy as a framework for planning and delivering cultural services. Whitchurch–Stouffville’s investment in the arts has been slow, and consequently residents have not only fallen below the national average on exposure to the performing arts, museums and galleries, but the average exposure has decreased from 2006 to 2010.
Arts and entertainment centre
Whitchurch–Stouffville’s deficit in the performing arts has been addressed in part by the recent rehabilitation of the former Stouffville Town Hall (constructed in 1896), creating a multifaceted arts, culture and entertainment centre in downtown Stouffville; The Lebovic Centre for Arts & Entertainment – Nineteen on the Park opened its doors to the public in May 2009.
The Latcham Gallery is a community art gallery established in 1979, by a group of local artists and visionaries who saw the need for an arts facility in Whitchurch–Stouffville. The gallery was named after Arthur Latcham, a local philanthropist who donated money for the gallery building on 6240 Main Street. Its exhibitions feature traditional and contemporary work by local and provincial artists. The gallery is a member of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and its operations are supported by the Town of Whitchurch–Stouffville.
Since 2000, artists in Whitchurch–Stouffville have organized a Fall Stouffville Studio Tour, featuring more than two dozen artists in eighteen venues across Whitchurch–Stouffville. In 2008, the Tour was nominated for “The Premier’s award for excellence in art.”
There is also an annual exhibition held in the winter by the grade 12 art class of Stouffville District Secondary School
The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library is located in the Lebovic Leisure Centre (constructed in 2001), a facility occupied jointly by the department of Leisure Services and the library. Circulation of materials increased 14.4% from 2007 to 2008; 54% of the town’s residents had a library membership in 2008. While the total membership and circulation has increased with the population growth, the town’s library expenditures have not kept pace. Expenditures for books and periodicals dropped 25% between 2003 and 2005; the total budget dropped from 5.1% of town operating expenses in 2004 to 3.0% in 2007, and to 2% in the 2011 budget. In 2010, Stouffville was ranked last of eleven Ontario towns in its population category for per capita library spending. In the same year, the Maclean’s “Third Annual Smart Cities Rankings” showed that for residents in Whitchurch–Stouffville, “exposure to reading” had declined annually from 2006 to 2010, and fell significantly below the national average.
Festivals and fairs
The Stouffville Strawberry Festival is a traditional community fair on the Canada Day weekend, which celebrates Stouffville’s agricultural heritage.
The Markham Fair is hosted by the Markham and East York Agricultural Society, and supported by both the City of Markham and the Town of Whitchurch–Stouffville (Stouffville south of Main Street was part of Markham Township prior to 1971). The Markham Fair dates back to 1844 and is one of Canada’s oldest and largest fairs, hosting upwards of 80,000 visitors. The fair is held on the weekend before Thanksgiving. It is held at the Markham fairgrounds, directly south of the Stouffville town border.
Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area hosts an annual Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival over four weeks in March and April.
Over the Family Day weekend in February, the Musselman Lake community hosts an annual Winter Carnival at Cedar Beach.
York Region’s Spring Forest Festival is held annually during Earth Week (April) in the York Regional Forest, Eldred King Tract, Highway 48 (just south of Vivian Road).
The annual Wine and Food Festival (June) is organized by the Ballantrae Golf and Country Club.
The Whitchurch–Stouffville Museum was established in 1971 and is located in the historic hamlet of Vandorf. The museum site covers about 2 acres (8,100 m2) and includes five historic structures from the former Township of Whitchurch: the Bogarttown Schoolhouse (1857), a pioneer log cabin (c. 1850),the Brown House (1857), a barn (c. 1830) and Vandorf Public School (1870). The museum also hosts an Annual Antique & Classic Car Show in August. Museum attendance has dropped in recent years from a high of 6,278 visitors in 2004 to 5,383 in 2008. A new Visitor and Community Centre at the museum began construction in 2010.
The Christian K. Hoover House, a Pennsylvania Mennonite family home built in 1824 at the corner of McCowan and Stouffville Roads (then part of Markham Township), is a featured building at the Markham Museum in Markham.
Film and TV
Movies partially shot on location in the community of Stouffville include: The Russell Girl (2008), Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007), Who Killed Atlanta’s Children? (2000), On Hostile Ground (2000), Strike! (1998), The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Bad Day on the Block (1997), Martin’s Day (1984), and The Dead Zone (1983). Television shows shot in Stouffville include episodes from Warehouse 13 (2010), The West Wing, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Nikita.
Films and television shows shot at Shadow Lake Centre in Whitchurch–Stouffville (Musselman Lake) include 1-8oo-Missing, Tarzan & Jane, The Crossing, Run the Wild Fields, Ice Men, Top Cops, The Loretta Claiborne Story, True Romance, Ready or Not, and The White Dog Sacrifice.