Back in the day when I took my then young bride to Main Street Unionville for a stroll, we always stopped when we get to the corner at Carlton and Main Street. ‘Um, let’s turn around, there’s nothing on the other side of the road.’ – a usual suggestion to my strolling companion. We never seemed to notice the big red brick building in front of us. Little did I know how this hidden gem would change our lives for years to come.
Having moved into Markham and started a small business, we have to make sales call the good old way by knocking on doors. Walking up Main street and eventually making into the Varley Gallery to drop off my business cards. I remember walking into the big front doors and into the very quiet and dim gallery. There weren’t any patrons but I did meet some very friendly staff. Fast forward a few years, we started to get involve with production of some of the Gallery communication needs. It was then, that I first heard of the “Group of Seven” artists. As I’ve helped with their exhibitions, I was amazed to learn the knowledge, creativity and hard work that went into displaying and sharing the artistic talents of all genres. Yet, the Varley Gallery remained the quiet red brick building at the corner of Main Street.
Many moons later, we’ve all witnessed how Markham has grown and changed. I am so happy the Varley has not fallen behind times. It’s stayed true as a venue to showcase the fantastic works of art by many local artists. It also recognized the change in our demographics and provided windows of opportunity to all the cultures that make up Markham as a community. Most profound impact has to be their effort in promoting creativity as a means of our self recognition. Through learning and sharing, it’s education and community programs brought people of all walks of life together into a family of curious minds. From art camps for children to Pekachuka events for the like-minded, it made art and creativity fun for all ages again. More interestingly, gave this immigrant an opportunity to be part of the cultural mosaic of Canada.
These days, I don’t stop at the street corner of Main and Carlton any more. I’m going into the red brick building to have some fun and hang out with my neighbours. I’m so glad I am a part of this creative community now. As for the Varley, please keep on inspiring and continue to make Markham proud!