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Vaughan (/vɔːn/ VAWN; 2016 population 306,233) is a city in Ontario, Canada. It is within the region of York, just north of Toronto. Vaughan was the fastest-growing municipality in Canada between 1996 and 2006, achieving a population growth rate of 80.2% according to Statistics Canada having nearly doubled in population since 1991. It is the fifth-largest city in the Greater Toronto Area, and the 17th-largest city in Canada.
In the late pre-contact period, the Huron-Wendat people populated what is today Vaughan. The Skandatut ancestral Wendat village overlooked the east branch of the Humber River (Pinevalley Drive) and was once home to approximately 2000 Huron in the sixteenth century. The site is close to a Huron ossuary (mass grave) uncovered in Kleinburg in 1970, and one kilometre north of the Seed-Barker Huron site.
The first European to pass through Vaughan was the French explorer Étienne Brûlé, who traversed the Humber Trail in 1615. However, it was not until the townships were created in 1792 that Vaughan began to see European settlements, as it was considered to be extremely remote and the lack of roads through the region made travel difficult. The township was named after Benjamin Vaughan, a British commissioner who signed a peace treaty with the United States in 1783.
Despite the hardships of pioneer life, settlers came to Vaughan in considerable numbers. The population grew from 19 men, 5 women, and 30 children in 1800 to 4,300 in 1840. The first people to arrive were mainly Pennsylvania Germans, with a smaller number of families of English descent and a group of French Royalists. This migration from the United States was by 1814 superseded by immigrants from Britain. While many of their predecessors had been agriculturalists, the newer immigrants proved to be highly skilled tradespeople, which would prove useful for a growing community.
Around the facilities established by this group were a number of hamlets, the oldest of which was Thornhill, which witnessed the construction of a saw-mill in 1801, a grist mill in 1815, and boasted a population of 300 by 1836. Other such enclaves included Kleinburg, Coleraine, Maple, Richmond Hill, Teston, Claireville, Pine Grove, Carrville, Patterson, Burlington, Concord, Edgeley, Fisherville, Elder’s Mills, Elgin Mills, Jefferson, Nashville, Purpleville, Richvale, Sherwood, Langstaff, Vellore, and Burwick (Woodbridge).
In 1846, the Township was primarily agricultural but had a population of 4,300. There were six grist mills and 25 saw mills.By 1935, there were 4,873 residents.
However, World War II sparked an influx of immigration, and by 1960, the population stood at 15,957. As well, the ethno-cultural composition of the area began to change with the arrival of different groups such as Italians, Jews and Eastern Europeans.
Incorporated in 1850 as Vaughan Township, a municipal government was established. Vaughan Road was a rural road constructed in 1850 that linked Vaughan Township with Toronto, though this street’s current alignment is much shorter and serves only much of the eastern half of the former city of York. In 1971, the new regional government of York Region was established, acquiring policing and welfare services from the communities it served; simultaneously, the township merged with the Village of Woodbridge to form the Town of Vaughan. In 1991, it officially changed its legal status to City of Vaughan.
An F2 tornado tore through the city of Vaughan during the Southern Ontario Tornado Outbreak on August 20, 2009. Premier Dalton McGuinty and Mayor Linda Jackson toured the destruction the next day and reported 200 homes in critical shape and as many as 600 additional homes likely to be demolished. The tornado also ripped up trees, flipped cars, and left thousands of people without power. Vaughan declared a state of emergency because of the widespread damage. One man injured in the storm suffered a heart attack the following morning.
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