Picturesque Historic Town in the 'Burbs
Newmarket is one of those odd places that has something to offer, but you just don't realize it. It is about a 35-40 minute drive north of where I live and, for the longest time, I never conceived of the place as being one of historic significance or value. We had often driven up to Newmarket during the fall - but just to marvel at the changing colours of leaves and the picturesque natural scenery. Later on, when I was in my teenage years, we would venture north to the industrial area, where there was one of the few good used bookstores left in the entire GTA, nestled into the units that normally house factory outlets or kitchen supplies. Finally, when I was sixteen, my parents suggested that I practice driving (in Ontario we can start to learn to drive at 16) by going from the bookstore to Main Street.
"Historic Main Street"
That was, officially, the first time I discovered Main Street in Newmarket. It wasn't all that long after the town had been revitalized as a tourist centre (I think), so everything was in full gear for welcoming visitors and putting on a bit of a show for Newmarket the Historic. There were a few coffee shops and another bookstore - although this one was more expensive and obviously catered to those looking for books that might be classified as rare in addition to simply used or old. On summer days the historic centre was quite pretty, the flower pots were in full bloom and, given that the frantic pace of development in the GTA hadn't reached its peak at this point, it still had the feeling of a quaint small town that offered an escape from the metropolitan bustle of Toronto.
"Main Street today"
Despite the differences between historic Newmarket and Toronto, I didn't really return all that often. We went a few more times to the bookstore in the industrial area, but never to the historic town centre. I went for a short trip to Main Street just before I moved to Spain, but it was this last visit that I really went to see the Main Street area again, on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon. The area had, obviously, lost a bit of shine and historic fervour, although the same sights were there. Many of the shops that had originally opened were gone, and it appears that the hoped-for boom didn't materialize - at least it didn't spread the wealth to the niche stores and boutiques of the Main Street district. Nevertheless, it is still there for those who are interested, and it provides a neat little window on small-town Ontario life.