Oak Ridges, Ontario
|Regional Municipality||York Region|
|• Town mayor||Dave Barrow|
|• MP||Leona Alleslev|
|• MPP||Helena Jaczek|
|• Councillor||Greg Beros|
|• Total||36,000 (est.2015)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC−5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC−4)|
|Forward sortation area||L4E|
|Area code(s)||905 and 289|
Oak Ridges is an unincorporated community in Ontario, Canada, and has been part of Richmond Hill's administrative area since its annexation in 1971. Although physically separate and distinct from Richmond Hill, it forms the northern portion of the municipality's boundary. Located about 20 km north of Toronto, it has a population of approximately 36,000 people (est. 2015). The town developed around Lake Wilcox, the largest lake in the area and a community within Oak Ridges, and has continued to expand slowly since its annexation by the Town of Richmond Hill. In the 1990s, Oak Ridges experienced moderate growth, which spurred environmental action by numerous organizations. Population has grown significantly as a result of development initiatives along Bayview Avenue. The Oak Ridges Community Center was built and completed in June 2012 to accommodate community demand.
Wholly situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine, much of its terrain is hilly, with pine forests and small creeks still prospering in the southwest. A number of small kettle lakes are located in Oak Ridges; the largest of these is Lake Wilcox, and the smaller Bond Lake is nearby. Lake Wilcox has a small beach area, and is used for recreational purposes and camp activities in the summer. The lakes drain into origin tributaries for the East Humber River.
Until the 1990s, farmlands used to dominate the northern part of Oak Ridges, except in the east. The western edge of Oak Ridges is now entirely residential or commercial; the McLeod's Landing development in the southwest consumed the last undeveloped land in the western part of Oak Ridges. This development was part of a contentious political battle that ultimately became an issue in the 2003 Ontario provincial election. In their campaign, the Liberal party promised to halt development on the Oak Ridges Moraine, specifically in Richmond Hill (see; Politics of the Oak Ridges Moraine for a more extensive discussion and; Development in Oak Ridges for ongoing development in Oak Ridges).
Oak Ridges was established along Yonge Street in 1799 by Joseph Geneviève and a group of French Royalists, who were granted land to settle by the British government. They were also provided with rations and agricultural implements. It was originally named Windham in honour of Geneviève's friend William Windham, Secretary at War for Britain at the time. Geneviève soon departed to search for another site to settle, and by 1840 the settlement and the area from the King-Vaughan town line to the 15th sideroad became known as Oak Ridges. This included lots 61 to 70, the western half of which were in King, and the eastern half in the township of Whitchurch.
From 1896 until 1927, the Schomberg and Aurora Railway operated a rail service from Schomberg to Oak Ridges. The Oak Ridges station was located north of Bond Crescent on the west side of Yonge Street, and resulted in the community being split into Oak Ridges north of the station and Schomberg Junction south of the station. The latter name was discontinued sometime after the railway ceased operations.
Oak Ridges was annexed from King and Whitchurch by the Town of Richmond Hill in 1971. Oak Ridges had been in steep decline in the 1960s, largely due to high unemployment, and lack of commercial development. However, in recent years, the Town of Richmond Hill has tried to lure business into Oak Ridges, to try to stimulate growth into the community.
Oak Ridges struggled economically during the 1990s. However, in the last decade a rapid business boom has hit Oak Ridges with a number of businesses opening throughout the community, mostly concentrated around Yonge Street, However strong environmental activism continues to spur growth in some areas. Opposition to development of any kind remains strong.
Until 2008, Oak Ridges cable provider was Aurora Cable Internet (ACI), an independent service provider exclusive to Aurora and Oak Ridges. This is considered a main reason for residents identifying themselves as distinct or separate from Richmond Hill or identify as being from Aurora. In 2008, ACI was purchased by Rogers Cable, who now provide cable and internet services to the area.
Housing developments began to boom around Lake Wilcox in the 1950s and the west-central part. The suburban housing developments did not continue until the mid to late 1980s in the northwestern part. In the 1990s, it reached the northwestern part. In the late-1990s housing reached the southwestern and the northwestern parts.
The developments affected the forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine which supplies water to the Greater Toronto Area which it was believed would cause environmental damage to Toronto and local communities. It continued for about two years. There were protests against the clear-cutting of forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine. In about 2001, Bayview began to expand to connect with the rest of Bayview. In 2002, the housing developments stopped. Urban developments are presently developing southwest of Oak Ridges.
Previously protected land in the northeastern portion of Oak Ridges along Bloomington Road, directly to the east of Yonge St. has had its protected land status removed by the Richmond Hill Town Council. The land is currently owned by Baif Developments. It got a plan of subdivision approved about 10 years ago in an Ontario Municipal Board hearing. Construction was set to begin in 2010-2011, however on this property only 25% of the lots are able to be built. The site has seen fierce opposition and has been surrounded at entry points by road barriers spray painted with phrases such as, "No Subdivision". The Town of Richmond Hill has declared these barriers, "Holdings Symbols", and their removal order is pending. The barriers interfere with preparations regarding the shortage of sewer allocation from the York Region and the developers have been waiting to build. The application to remove the "Holdings Symbols" is due to the fact that the sewer allocation has become partially available. Once more sewer allocation is available they will be able to proceed fully. The land in question is still in its natural state, with the exception of some removal of trees. In the 2003 Ontario provincial election the Liberal party promised to halt development on the Oak Ridges Moraine, specifically in Richmond Hill.
Previously protected land around Bond Lake along Old Colony Road, directly to the east of Yonge St. has had its protected land status removed by the Richmond Hill Town Council in 2008 and development there by Lebovic Homes is fully underway. Ultimately the elimination of almost all current forests around Bond Lake and expand its subdivision into what is currently natural habitat will occur by 2011. Opposition has been minimal after Richmond Hill Town Council voted to open up almost all protected land to development. Approximately one-third of the land in question is still in its natural state. This site has not seen any protests since 2008. Some government agencies claim to have declared this property a park and that it will never see development, however the construction is ongoing.
Oak Ridges now boasts 9 publicly funded elementary schools and 1 private; 5 public, 4 catholic; 8 English, 1 French. Bond Lake Public School, Father Frederick McGinn, Our Lady of Hope Catholic School, Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Elementary School, Oak Ridges Public School, Lake Wilcox Public School, Windham Ridge Public School, Kettle Lakes Public School and Académie de la Moraine (Conseil scolaire de district Centre-Sud-Ouest, up to grade 8). These schools fall under the York Region District School Board or the York Catholic District School Board.
There are no high schools within Oak Ridges. Cardinal Carter Catholic High School is located near the northern border with Aurora on the north side of Bloomington Road, within walking distance for most Catholic Oak Ridges students. École secondaire catholique Renaissance, a French Catholic school operated by Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud, is at the corner of Bloomington Road and Bathurst Street in Aurora, near Oak Ridges.
Religion and Worship
The largest group by far in Oak Ridges are Catholics. It is home to the Our Lady of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, the local Catholic Parish, and the Chabad Jewish Centre. The historic Temperanceville United Church is located in nearby Temperanceville. Masses for the French Roman Catholic Community are held at the Chapel in the École secondaire catholique Renaissance. The nearby Mary Lake Augustinian Monastery also serves the Roman Catholic Community, friars and brothers from the order have been known to visit occasionally with the children in the local Catholic schools, to celebrate mass and teach religion.
The Oak Ridges Medical Centre opened its doors in 2007 and now boasts Dentist(s), optometrists, and a walk in clinic (limited hours), among other services. The centre is located at 13291 Yonge Street, north of King Road.
Yonge Street is the main transportation artery through the town, running north to Aurora and south to Richmond Hill. To the east is Highway 404, which is accessed via Stouffville Road in the south and Bloomington Road in the north. To the west is Highway 400, accessed via King Road through King City.
The CN (Toronto - Orillia - Sudbury) rail lies to the east but serves no stations in Oak Ridges currently. The Bloomington GO Station, under construction, is set to open some time after 2014 at a date to be determined by GO Transit. The station will be the extension of Richmond Hill line train service.
York Region Transit is the public transportation system, who also operate the Viva Blue bus service; a limited-stop route which travels on Yonge Street from Finch subway station to Newmarket, passing through Oak Ridges stopping along Yonge St at: Bloomington Road, Regatta Avenue, and King Road. Five other York Region Transit routes go through Oak Ridges;
- route 22 which travels from Maple on Keele Street to Seneca College's King Campus;
- route 22A which travels from Newmarket on Yonge Street and Keele Street via King to York University at Keele St. and Steeles Ave;
- route 84 which carries passengers locally around Oak Ridges;
- route 88 which travels from Finch on Bathurst Street to Seneca College's King Campus;
- route 91B which travels from Finch on Bayview Street to Bloomington Rd (rush-hour only);
- and route 98 which travels from East Gwillimbury(at Green Lane) on Yonge Street to Bernard Terminal in Richmond Hill.
Viva bus service is accessible to passengers using mobility devices in Oak Ridges at the Yonge and King stop.
In the 2006 municipal elections, candidates talked of a proposed GO Transit expansion that would extend the Richmond Hill line up to Gormley, and introduce a new station to residents near Oak Ridges. These plans came to fruition when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the expansion of the Richmond Hill line north to Aurora Road as part of the provincial governments new MoveOntario 2020 transit funding initiative.
Oak Ridges has 2 post offices. The main one is at the corner of Yonge St. and King Rd., while a much smaller one is at the corner of Yonge St. and Aubrey Ave.
The Oak Ridges community is home to the Oak Ridges Soccer Club whose 1500+ members make it the communities largest service organization. The ORSC has youth soccer programs for ages 4 to 18 in both house league and competitive levels. The soccer club office is located at 39 King Road, former site of the Oak Ridges Public Library and the former Oak Ridges Fire Hall.
- Gormley, southeast - A small community in the southeast. It is linked with the CN Rail and has about 4 streets including Gormley Road.
- Temperanceville, west - Mostly in Oak Ridges (partially in King township), located at the intersection of King and Bathurst. Has a population of less than 350 people.
- Ivan Reitman's 1973 horror, Cannibal Girls, was partially filmed here. The former OPP station, Gulf station and Oak Motel on Yonge Street are all shown.
- "Town of Richmond Hill - Oak Ridges Community Centre & Park". Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- McClure Gillham, Elizabeth (1984). Early settlements of King Township Ontario. King City, Ontario: The Corporation of the Township of King. ISBN 9780969049869.
- Stamp, Robert M. (1991). "Early Days in Richmond Hill: A History of the Community to 1930". Richmond Hill Public Library Board.
- "Oak Ridges Medical Centre". Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- ^ "About the Clinics". Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres. Archived from the original on April 6, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2005.
- Annette, M. (1967). Salute to Canada: A history of Oak Ridges. Canadian Student Yearbooks Limited.
Media related to Oak Ridges, Ontario at Wikimedia Commons