Maxville got its name from the many "Macs" of its Highland Scottish neighbourhood. Its population was 749 by 1901, but since then has been virtually unchanged. With little industry, its main economic function has been to supply merchandise and services to the surrounding farm community.
Maxville has emotional significance for people of Scottish decent, as a surviving concentration of the old "Scottishness" of its county, Glengarry. The Glengarry Highland Games, held annually in Maxville since 1948, are among the more successful of their kind. The novelist Ralph Connor and British financier Sir Edward Peacock were born at St. Elmo, 3 km northwest of here.