The area that we know of as Richmond Hill was first surveyed by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1794 while he was constructing a trail fromYork to Georgian Bay to serve as a military line. Farms were laid out along the route with part of it becoming Yonge Street. It was first settled by United Empire Loyalists and British settlers, and by 1801 it was known as Miles' Hill after Abner Miles, a prominent settler, and was afterwards Mount Pleasant. When Charles Lennox, 4 th Duke of Richmond visited the area in 1820 the residents were so impressed that they named the village after him. Richmond Hill was incorporated as a village in 1873, and as a town in 1957. It encompassed the other earlier settlements in the area, Oak Ridges, Langstaff, and Elgin Mills.
The town of Richmond Hill was the centre of rose growing at the turn of the century and became known as the “Rose Capital of Canada”. The David Dunlap Observatory, the largest optical telescope in Canada, is located in Richmond Hill. Built in 1935, it is a research facility of the University of Toronto.
The majority of Richmond Hills attractions are cultural and academic. The Canadian Museum of Hindu Civilization is the first museum of its kind in North America. The museum has over 17,000 sq ft. of exhibition galleries that showcase Hindu theosophy, philosophy and mythology.
Perhaps the most important geographical feature of the Town of Richmond Hill is the Oak Ridges Moraine. The moraine is a further elevated region of loose soil and comprises a significant portion of the land area of the town. Its porous nature allows the collection and natural filtering of waters that flow through it which are then fed into multiple underground aquifers. While the town receives its water from the City of Toronto, these aquifers are an important source for those with their own wells in addition to surrounding communities. The ability of the soil to hold so much water means that despite Richmond Hill's comparatively high elevation, it has a very high water table which poses some problems to construction. The moraine is also host to a staggering amount of biodiversity and in recent years there has been a considerable amount of pressure applied to government to shield the area from development.