When Abner Miles, an innkeeper and merchant from York, settled on the lots each side of (what is now) Yonge Street at Major Mackenzie Drive in 1801, there was not much in the village of Richmond Hill, so he began by establishing an inn, a store, and an ashery (a potash business, burning scrub brush and wood to produce raw ingredients for soap, candles and other mainstays of pioneer homes). The inn, or tavern, was perhaps the most important of Abner Miles businesses to help form the new community as it quickly became a favourite watering hole as well as a focal point for auctions, dances, masonic dinners and town meetings.
it was the Miles' children who confirmed Abner's status as the "father" of Richmond Hill. The marriages of his daughters Hannah to James Playter, Lucy to John Langstaff, and Elizabeth to John Arnold marked the founding of three families who were to play important roles in the community's subsequent history. His son, James continued in his father's enterprises.
On his death in 1806, his son James inherited his land, what had by then amounted to two thousand acres, eventually donating land for the Presbyterian Church a manse, a school and a cemetery where his father was buried.