Varley Art Gallery

Varley Art Gallery is the creative heart of Markham and a welcome home for artists and art lovers. It is named in honour of F.H. Varley, a founding member of the Group of Seven and one of Canada’s most celebrated artists. The public gallery upholds Mr. Varley’s passion for art, inspiring local and national artists to share their stories with the greater community.  

Located in the historic village of Unionville, Varley Art Gallery is both a gallery and a community facility for the city of Markham. It is located on Main Street and is easily accessible to artists of all ages and abilities.The Gallery offers several workshops for students aged 4 years to senior citizens, along with art camps and educational programs to complement the Ontario curriculum, and public events to support Varley exhibitions.  

The Varley Art Gallery rotates many of its exhibitions and educational programs to reflect community interests throughout the year. For current programs, visit the Varley Art Gallery page on the city of Markham website. To discover more artistic inspiration, keep scrolling for Destination Ontario’s nearby recommendations.  

More about Varley Art Gallery

Varley Art Gallery is a municipal gallery that takes its service to the community seriously. It celebrates the life and work of F.H. Varley through a diverse range of exhibitions and public events. The gallery is renowned for its vibrant debates on all things related to Canadian art and society, even the beloved Mr. Varley and the famous Group of Seven (a group of Canadian landscape artists from 1920 to 1933). As a community venue, Varley Art Gallery encourages local and national attendees to join in the discussion and share their stories of art and history.  

It is more than worthy of a visit just for the art collection alone. Despite his association with the Group of Seven, Varley’s portrait art is both evocative and enlightening. As you explore his collection within the Varley Art Gallery, his work begins to show a connection between people and their complicated stories. Varley’s art explores the diversity of the community and social history, a perfect match for the Varley Art Gallery’s spirit and their support for diverse artists and cultural groups.  

A short walk from the Varley Art Gallery is the Salem-Eckhardt House, Varley’s home for his final years. The house belonged to his dear friend and patron, Mrs. Kathleen Gormely McKay. Today, the house has been renamed the McKay Art Centre and is run by the Varley Art Gallery. Varley’s basement studio is now a venue for art classes for the Varley Gallery’s children and adult programs. On the main floor is an exhibition space open for local and regional artists. It is with thanks to Mrs. McKay and the many original Varley pieces donated to the Gallery; the Varley Art Gallery continues to grow with the art community. 

If Varley’s landscape artwork inspires you, take a short drive east along Carlton Road and soak up the natural beauty of Toogood Pond Park. It is a calming oasis in the middle of the city, spread over 33 hectares with a pond and marsh at heart. The park is a favourite for locals, with many students from Varley Art Gallery using the scenery for inspiration. Enjoy the walkway around the pond or connect to a longer walk into Downtown Unionville.  

The village of Unionville is home to the historical side of Markham. Beyond the Varley Art Gallery and Toogood Pond Park, the community has maintained its heritage look and feel. The main street has been used for many television and movie backdrops, including the fictional town of Stars Hollow in the series Gilmore Girls. The historic buildings provide a picturesque walk at any time of year—perfect inspiration for the next incredible Canadian Landscape. 

Last updated: August 18, 2023

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