Markdale was first settled in 1846 and originally called East Glenelg, after a nearby township. In 1864, it was renamed Cornabus after the Islay, Scotland hometown of then-postmaster Donald MacDuffie (1814–1892). In 1873, Mark Armstrong sold land to the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway on the condition that the station bear his name. Unlike nearby Flesherton, which had failed to prosper after the railway by-passed it, the new railway station brought new business to Markdale. It was incorporated as a village in 1888.
In 2001, Markdale was amalgamated with the townships of Artemesia, Euphrasia and Osprey to form Grey Highlands.
Markdale is home to several industries including Chapman's Ice Cream and Medike Leather Products. Public services include an Ontario Provincial Police detachment, fire department, 14-bed Centre Grey Hospital, public library, arena and community centre, curling and golf club.
There are several annual festivities, including the Rotary Club's Street Frolic in July, and the Agricultural Society's Markdale Fall Fair in late August.
The village was a charter member of the Central Ontario Hockey League and participated at the senior and junior levels under several nicknames, including Markdale Majors. Currently, the Grey Highlands Bravehearts of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League play out of the Centre Grey Recreation Complex.
- Ottawa Senators Forward Chris Neil was born at the Centre Grey General Hospital in Markdale on June 18, 1979.
- Donnelly, C.; Baker, S.; Bumstead, C.A.; Lukianchuk, O. (1974), Artemesia Remembers: An Oral History, Flesherton: South Grey Museum
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