Visit the Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory

Richmond Hill, Ontario’s south-central York Region (population 2016: 195 022), is the third most populous municipality in York Region and the 28th most populous municipality in Canada. Richmond Hill lies between Markham, Vaughan, and north of Thornhill.

Since 1990s, Richmond Hill has experienced significant population growth. After being established in 1957, it became a municipality in 2019. It is home to Canada’s largest telescope, the David Dunlap Observatory telescope.


Richmond Hill became an incorporated village in 1872, changing status to town in 1957 and city in 2019. The modern borders were established in 1971 from the Town of Richmond Hill and parts of King, Vaughan, Whitchurch, and Markham Townships.

The city is located on the traditional territory of the Huron Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabeg.

When French explorers arrived in the early 1600s, they encountered the Huron-Wendat. This First Nation’s territory stretched roughly from the shores of Georgian Bay to the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Many joined the Haudenosaunee. Between 1634 and 1642, a series of epidemics reduced their numbers. In 1648 and 1649, the Haudenosaunee defeated and dispersed the remaining Huron-Wendat.

The Haudenosaunee established settlements north of Lake Ontario in the years that followed. By the late 1600s, however, they began to abandon these settlements. At the same time, the Anishinaabeg, including the Mississauga, began migrating from the area around Lake Superior into the territory the Haudenosaunee had left behind.

In 1805, Mississauga chiefs met with colonial administrators and signed Treaty 13, the Toronto Purchase. The treaty transferred approximately 250,800 acres (1,015 km2) to the colonial government from Mississauga. In return, the Mississauga received 10 shillings and fishing rights along the Etobicoke Creek. Treaty 13 includes much of Richmond Hill. The remaining section, the city’s northeast corner, is covered by the Williams Treaties, signed in 1923.

Split between two rural townships, Richmond Hill’s urban issues were often ignored. These included improving sidewalks, sewers, and fire prevention. An 1872 petition to York County council asked for Richmond Hill to be incorporated as a village, which would allow them to control how their tax would be spent. The village council began operation in 1873.

When the population in the village began to drop, the council actively tried to attract businesses. Two greenhouse businesses opened in 1912, sparking a new industry for the community. By the 1930s, Richmond Hill was known as the “Rose Capital of Canada.” The town was reincorporated as a city in 2019 to help market the city for corporate and government investment.

The Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory

Canada’s largest optical telescope is the David Dunlap Observatory. The Observatory was built in Richmond Hill, Ontario, in the 1930s. It has a primary mirror that measures more than 1.88m (74 inches) in circumference. The dome is 18.6 meters in diameter (61 feet). It weighs 73 metric tonnes. Without its primary mirror span>, the telescope weighs 21 metric tons.

The proud program partner of the DDO, the RASC, Toronto Centre, provides astronomical programming. These programs are available:

Summer Evening Tours offers a variety of family events and public talks. From May through October, tours are offered on Saturday evenings. Guests will spend approximately 2 hours at the Observatory. It is divided between the DDO Admin Building and the 74″ Dome. Guests can also use the lawn telescopes (weather permitting).

The astronomy program for Girl Guides of Canada has been designed to meet the needs of the different age groups. It also fulfills the requirements of each age group’s merit badges for Astronomy, Space Science, and Astronomy-related outdoor elements. There are programs for kids like Sparks , Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers. For secondary-school-aged students, the program will also support requirements for Science as laid out in the Ontario Curriculum. The presentation will include a craft project, a Moon Gazers Guide, and a Star Finder. This depends on the age group. Book your group at DDO Programs.

The Astronomy Program for Boy Scouts of Canada has been tailored to each age group and fulfills merit badge requirements for Astronomy and Space Science. It also includes Astronomy-related outdoor components. There are programs for Beavers (5-7), Cubs (8-10), Scouts (11-4), Venturers (15-17), Rovers (18-26). Scouts Canada merit badges provide some content that can be used to create these Scout programs. The presentation will provide students with a craft project or a Moon Gazers guide. Book your group at DDO Programs.

The Astronomy Program For School Groups program meets the Grade 3, Grade 6, and Grade 9 Ontario Curriculum requirements. It covers Earth and Space Science, Astronomy, and Science units at these grade levels. This includes both academic and applied streams. Students from grades SK-12 can also benefit from programs. Students from all schools boards, private schools, home-schooling groups, and private schools can attend. Depending on the age group, the presentation will include a craft project for students, a Moon Gazers guide, or a Star Finder. Book your group at DDO Programs.

The Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory is a beautiful place to visit for anyone interested in astronomy. With its numerous telescopes and knowledgeable staff, the observatory provides an enjoyable learning experience for visitors of all ages.

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