Hidden by commercial development
When the Crossland family took over the Maple Gables property in the 1950’s, it served as a dairy farm, surrounded by a lush 180-acre field and resting upon a perch that stared down at the bustling town centre below. From here, Ernie Crossland and his wife Jean raised their family of seven and Ernie’s dedication to conservation and charity earned him the nickname “Mr. New Market.” It was not until the 1980’s when the area was rezoned for commercial and residential development that the family moved out and the home was turned into a restaurant and bar.
Now, with the exception of a sign on Yonge Street, “The Sociable” is all but hidden from view, tucked away behind a law firm, a brokerage and a large restaurant chain. It enjoys the patronage of a group of regulars that come to admire the elegant, old-world ambiance, unencumbered by the technological revolution taking place outside its stately walls. But without more people taking the time to come visit the hidden architectural treasure, this important part of New Market’s history may one day be lost. “We come from a town much like Newmarket,” says the owner of the Sociable. “Perhaps that’s part of the reason we fell in love with this building. My goal for this restaurant is to make this building better known among the community. I’d like it to become a hub, where everyday people can enjoy the atmosphere and have important conversations. Maple Gables is one of the most stunning heritage buildings in the area, it’s too bad not even Google Maps can get you to its address without some difficulty.”
“Come see it. Experience it.”
“The solution to this dilemma is a simple one,” says the restaurant’s owner, “I want to get the word out that this building exists – it’s right in your backyard,” he says. “Come see it.” The owner, who himself doesn’t get around easily due to back pain caused by a car accident rises from his seat. “Walk around, experience it,” he says arms raised parallel with his shoulders. “We strongly believe that God will not allow beauty to sink to the depths of the ocean. He will pluck it out with his finger and bring it to the surface for others to see and appreciate it. This building is one of the town’s treasures and together I believe the community can lift this building up. If I can get the word out, people will come. And then it’s my job and the job of my staff to provide the food and service that will keep them coming back.” The owners pride themselves in beginning each meal with the finest ingredients. “In my home, cooking meals together as a family each day was sacred. Before cooking my father would demand we first place all of the ingredients on the table for him to inspect before any preparation or cooking took place. It was something my siblings and I would joke about —because there was always something he’d pick out as imperfect, or an ingredient he’d say was missing that we would have to exchange or fetch for him. They now bring that same scrutiny to their restaurant, from the carefully selected organic produce to the fresh meat. “I want to provide everyone who walks through our doors with the best we have to offer. If we can do that, then god-willing they will come back and hopefully they’ll also spread the word to their family and friends.”
A place for everyone
The Sociable offers something for everyone. The aesthetic beauty of the building makes it a favourite among local businesses looking for a location for their next event. And within the first month since the restaurant came under new management they have already hosted several meetings, several retirement parties, two birthday celebrations and a wedding reception. Plus, live band plays at the Sociable to a diverse crowd every Friday and Saturday night, playing a mix of jazz and classic rock as well as modern favourites.