An Introduction To Mississauga's History
Archaeological findings suggest that Native people have lived in this area for thousands of years. When explorers arrived in Ontario in the 1600s, both Iroquoian and Algonquin-speaking peoples already lived in the Credit River Valley area. One of the Native groups found around the Credit River was called the Mississaugas. This Ojibway tribe came to Southern Ontario from Lake Huron and occupied the land between Burlington Bay and Etobicoke Creek with the Iroquois. By 1700 however, the Mississaugas had driven the Iroquois away. The Europeans called the area where the Mississaugas lived the "Mississauga Tract".
The First Purchase
In 1805, government officials from York, as Toronto was then called, bought 33,995 hectares (84,000 acres) of the "Mississauga Tract" for 1,000 (pounds sterling). Often referred to as "The First Purchase", this area is the size of approximately 31,275 soccer fields. The Mississaugas did not sell all of their land. They kept approximately 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) on either side of the Credit River. The new owners called the land around this strip Toronto Township. In 1806, Samuel Wilmot finished surveying the southern half of Toronto Township, and the area began to open for settlement. The new settlers called the land the "Home District". The various communities in the Home District included: Dixie; Clarkson; Cooksville; Port Credit; Erindale; Sheridan and Summerville.
One of the first settlers in Toronto Township was Philip Cody, who arrived in 1807. He built and operated an inn and tavern on the southeast corner of Dundas Street and Cawthra Road. Joseph and Jane Silverthorne, the first visitors to the inn, completed Cherry Hill, their second home in 1822. This house is now a restaurant and stands at its new location on Silvercreek Boulevard. The village that developed at Cawthra and Dundas was named after Dr. Beaumont Dixie, in 1865, in part, because he had donated money to the Union Chapel. The Union Chapel was built in 1816 on the northeast corner of Dundas Street and Cawthra Road. Settlers of all Protestant denominations - including Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian - worshipped in this Chapel according to their own faith. The original building was made of logs but a stone church was built 1837 to replace it. Today, this stone church can be seen in its original location.
Clarkson was named after Warren Clarkson, who like other settlers such as Thomas Merigold and Lewis Bradley, arrived from New Brunswick shortly after the Silverthornes arrived in Dixie. They settled a portion of the Old Survey which became known as "Merigold's Point" Today, the Bradleys' home is part of the Bradley Museum. The Clarkson family operated the general store and post office for many years. The road to Warren Clarkson's house became known as Clarkson Road, and the area was renamed Clarkson's Corners.
Cooksville was once known as "Harrisville" after Daniel Harris, who was one the earliest settlers to the intersection of Hurontario and Dundas Streets. The village was renamed in 1836 in honour of its leading entrepreneur, Jacob Cook.
Cook was a mail carrier for Toronto Township. By 1820, Cook was running stagecoaches as far as Kingston and Goderich for both mail and passengers. When the Great Western Railway began to build in Toronto Township, the people of Cooksville no longer needed to ride the stagecoaches to get to Toronto and Cooksville's economy suffered. In 1852, a fire destroyed most of the settlement's shops and houses but some were rebuilt. For over a century Cooksville was the centre for civic, industrial, commercial and educational interests. Mississauga's first municipal offices were located on Dundas St., just west of Hurontario Street, as was the Central Library, the offices for the public and separate school boards, and various Federal and Provincial ministries.
The Port Credit settlement grew slowly at first. The town plot was laid out in 1834; however, it was not until the government gave the Port Credit Harbour Company $11,500 to rebuild the harbour facilities and the settlement really began to expand. With these improvements, Port Credit was able to export lumber and grain. Within 15 years the town grew to a population of 250.
The first permanent structure to have been built in the village was the Government Inn. Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe had ordered construction of the Inn to serve as a way station for travellers. In 1855, a branch of the Great Western Railway opened through Port Credit. Because the railway increased the exportation business, the village continued to expand.
Later in the 19th century, Port Credit became known for its stone hooking trade. This trade, started around 1815, covered the area from Port Whitby to Port Nelson but approximately half of all the stone hooking schooners were owned by the Port Credit. These ships set on Lake Ontario to collect stone, mainly Dundas shale. Workers dragged large rakes along the bottom of the lake to gather stone and then lifted it into the ship. This stone was used to construct many buildings in Toronto, as well as in Port Credit and its surrounding communities.
Other industries such as the St. Lawrence Starch Works (1889-1989) and the Port Credit Brick Yard (1891-1927) provided employment for many local residents. Port Credit was incorporated as a village in 1914. By 1961, it had a population of 6'500 and was incorporated as a town.
The second Purchase
Although the Mississauga originally kept about 1.6 km (1 mile) of land on either side of the credit river when they sold the first part of the Mississauga Tract, they also sold this strip of land to the new government on February 28, 1829. They only kept a small land reserve for their own village. This deal was called "The Second Purchase".
Between 1820 and 1826, the Mississaugas lived in various locations throughout the region. In 1826, they lived in a village built for them by the British Government on the south bank of the Credit River. The Mississauga Golf Club was built on this site in 1896. In 1847, the Mississaugas relocated to a reserve in the Grand River Valley near present-day Hagersville. Today, the only visible reminded of the Mississaugas' Settlement is the historic plaque outside the gates of the Mississauga Golf Club.
By 1829, Timothy Street had completed the New Survey, and the northern part of Toronto Township opened to immigrants. The settlements that were established in the New Survey included : Barbertown; Britannia; Burnhamthorpe; Derry West; Elmbank; Malton; Meadowvalle Village Mount Charles; and Streetsville.
Although there were many settlers in the area now known as Streetsville before Timothy Street and his family settled there in 1825, the village's growth was stimulated by the Street Family. As payment for completing the New Survey, the government gave Street 4,451.7 Hectares (11,000 acres) of land - the equivalent of 28,187 hockey rinks.
On this land, Street built his family home, a sawmill, a gristmill and a tannery. These businesses helped the settlement. By 1824, Streetsville already has two taverns, two stores, two shoemakers, a cabinet maker, a church and school house, as well as the original gristmill and sawmill. By 1851, a newspaper ,The Streetsville Review, and the Township's first highschool had been added. The Street Family house is believed to have the first brick building in the area. This house still stands at 41 Mill Street.
In January 1962, Streetsville was incorporated as a town. For more information, contact the Streetsville Historical Society.
Many different settlers moved through the area at Old Derry Road West and Second Line West. In 1819, the first settlers arrived. They were Irish settlers from New York led by John Beatty.
In 1831, Beatty sold his land to James Crawford who, like John Simpson. Opened saw and carding mills in the village. Francis Silverthorn took over and expanded Crawford's mill Complex in 1844. In the same year, George Ball, a local blacksmith, built Meadowvale's first hotel. After Silverthorn fell into financial trouble, Gooderham and Worts took over his mills and prospered.
Meadowvale Village became Ontario's first Heritage Conservation District in 1980. Today, the Ball motel is used as apartments, the Silverthorn house is a private residence, Gooderham Estates mansion has been newly restored and the Mill ruins can still be seen.
The northeast corner of Toronto Township was first settled in 1823 by Samuel Moore. During the 1840s Richard Halliday the local blacksmith and innkeeper arrived and named the settlement Malton, after his home in England. While most people are acquainted with Malton as the home of Pearson International Airport, few are aware of Malton's agricultural past and its historic role as a distribution hub for grain shipments during the 19th Century.
The introduction of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1854, allowed better access to Toronto markets for local farmers. The village of Malton was subdivided in 1855 and became the county seat in 1859, if only for a year. Its economic prosperity in the late 1860s was short lived.
In 1937, Malton experience a major shift from agricultural to an industrial economy when 13 farms were selected to become the location and airport, now know as the Pearson International Airport. The airport provided wartime prosperity during the 1940s and continued to be an integral part of the economy in the post-ware years.
In 1958, Malton acquired an international reputation as a leader in aeronautical design and manufacturing. Malton became home of the famous "Avro Arrow", Canada's first supersonic aircraft, still believed to have been years ahead of its time. On February 20, 1959, prime Minister John Deifenbaker terminated the project and the five completed Arrows were dismantled.
While Malton's product has changed, it remains a hub of commercial and industrial activity.
In May 1822, Thomas Racey, a land speculator, bought a block of land along the Credit River. He hoped to build mills and start a town, but did not have enough money. He sold part of his land to settlers who built a post office, saw mills and the Township's first Anglican church. The first name chosen for this settlement was Toronto. This name was never officially accepted, and eventually the area became known as Springfield.
Before the Church was built, Colonel Peter Adamson opened his home twice a year, for the Bishop to perform services. But in 1825, Adamson and a group of entrepreneurs bought land to build a church. Adamson used his contacts to find Rev. James McGrath and bring him to the area as the minister of St. Peter's Anglican Church. McGrath held the first service in November 1827. The community was renamed Erindale in 1890 after McGrath's estate, which was named after his homeland, Ireland.
In 1887, a stone church was built to replace the original wooded building. St. Peter's still stands in Erindale, and has just celebrated its 170 anniversary of involvement in the community.
Faith in our Future All of these settlements, except for Port Credit and Streetsville, joined to together in 1968 to form the Town of Mississauga. In 1974, Mississauga incorporated as a City, this time including Port Credit and Streetsville.
Mississauga is truly a celebration of past, present and future. While it continues to celebrate the history of each of its communities, Mississauga has become Canada's sixth largest city.
For more information on walking tours and the history of Mississauga in each of the original settlements, please visit the Mississauga Heritage Foundation office on the ground floor of the Civic Centre or call 905-615-4415.