Markham Butterflyway

Rangers in Markham established a Butterflyway through the former Town of Thornhill in 2017. The following year, Markham residents continued the momentum, establishing a dozen canoe gardens.

About the Markham Butterflyways

The Butterflyway Project is a citizen-led movement growing highways of habitat for bees and butterflies across Canada.

In 2017, our troop of Markham Butterflyway Rangers planted more than a dozen pollinator patches in schoolyards, parks and gardens, establishing an official Butterflyway through the former Town of Thornhill.

This year, we recruited 24 residents from the neighbourhoods around Markham Village, Cornell, Greensborough and Swan Lake Village. The new Butterflyway Rangers attended a training session where participants heard from experts about local bees, butterflies and wildflowers. They also learned about community organizing, including tips on how to fundraise, host events and establish plantings at schools and parks.

By fall 2018, the Rangers had grown the network of canoe gardens in Markham to a dozen, with more planned for 2019. The canoe gardens are a partnership with the City of Markham, with support from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Markham Thornhill butterflyway map

The Markham Canoe Garden network

In 2018, our team of Markham Butterflyway Rangers grew the fleet of canoe gardens to a dozen. The canoes have been retired from marine duty and transformed into a simple yet iconic planter, filled with native wildflowers that support local bees and butterflies. The canoes are intended to provide pollinator habitat while playfully connecting residents to the often overlooked urban river valleys that run through the city.

The Thornhill Butterflyway

In partnership with the City of Markham and Coun. Valerie Burke, in 2017 the David Suzuki Foundation’s troop of 22 Butterflyway Rangers planted canoe gardens and pollinator patches in schoolyards, parks and gardens throughout the former Town of Thornhill.

The planted sites included city parks, like Pomona Mills Park, Honsberger Field and Royal Orchard Park, plus St. Anthony Catholic School and backyards and gardens throughout the neighbourhood. The City of Markham generously supported the planting of three canoe gardens during the summer, bringing Markham’s fleet to four, and provided all materials for a large demonstration pollinator garden at the Thornhill Community Centre. The Rangers hosted a fall celebration in Royal Orchard Park, which included a musical parade, face-painting and native plant give-away.

Special thanks to the Thornhill Horticultural Society, City of Markham staff and Coun. Burke, plus TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, for supporting the project.

Use the interactive map below to explore the locations of butterfly-friendly pollinator patches that volunteer Butterflyway Rangers established throughout the former Town of Thornhill.

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  • Markham Butterflyway Rangers at Swan Lake Village

    Residents of Markham’s Swan Lake Village transformed two long-neglected garden beds into pollinator patches, hosted an end-of-season garden party and planted a five-metre canoe garden, with help from city park staff.

  • Markham Rangers' canoe garden

    Markham Rangers have planted a dozen wildflower-filled canoe gardens in parks and schools, including this one at the Markham Museum.

  • Backyard planting in Markham, Ontario.

    A Butterflyway Ranger in Markham, Ontario leads children in planting a backyard pollinator patch.

  • A canoe planter in Markham, Ontario.

    A canoe planter in Markham, Ontario — part of the David Suzuki Foundation's Community Canoe and Butterflyway Projects.

  • Butterflyway demonstration in Markham, Ontario

    Children attentively engage in a Butterflyway demonstration in Markham, Ontario.

  • Canoe planter at Honsberger Field

    Butterflyway Rangers get busy preparing a canoe planter at Honsberger Field in Markham, Ontario.

  • Butterflyway Rangers in a Markham, Ontario parade.

    A Butterflyway Ranger leads a group of children in community parade in Markham, Ontario.

  • Markham Butterflyway Rangers.

    Markham Butterflyway Rangers.

  • Butterflyway Rangers in Royal Orchard Park, Markham, Ontario.

    Butterflyway Rangers surround their newly completed canoe planter in Royal Orchard Park in Markham, Ontario.

  • Pollinator patch at Royal Orchard Park in Markham, Ontario.

    Butterflyway Rangers get busy planting pollinator patches at Royal Orchard Park in Markham, Ontario.

  • Butterflyway Rangers at St Anthony Catholic School in Markham, Ontario.

    Butterflyway Rangers get ready to prepare a canoe planter at St Anthony Catholic School in Markham, Ontario.