Mississauga’s 50th Anniversary
Written by R. E.
It is no surprise that Mississauga has changed greatly over time, specifically in the past recent decades where the city has undergone rapid expansions in infrastructure, transportation, and an increase in population. This year, 2017, Mississauga celebrates its 50th anniversary. Looking back at the history of the city it has come a long way from its establishment in 1967 . During this time it was merely considered a town covered with “farmland and apple trees” as Ms. Hendrix recalls it, moving to Mississauga in 1970 . However, today based on the most recent Census, Mississauga is home to approximately 721,559 people, it’s the sixth largest city in Canada, and it holds a corporate status and a local government . The city now flourishes with skyscraper condominiums, runs a multifaceted public transportation system, is home to multiple recreational parks and community centers, a civic center, an art gallery, a central library, an award winning public square, and not to mention home to the second largest shopping mall in all of Canada located in the heart of the city .
But how did Square One Shopping Centre become the center of attention in a city that spreads for miles? This is the question I aim to answer as I explore in this paper how Mississauga’s central core became and continues to become gentrified, straying far from the imagined persona of a bland suburb and towards a thriving multifaceted city.
The first step to help satisfy my curiosity was to find reliable articles that illustrated Mississauga’s history, specifically before the building of Square One shopping mall. What I quickly discovered was that during the early years of Mississauga many people were convinced that Cooksville, located on Hurontario and Dundas, would develop into Mississauga’s core . Originally named Harrisville, Cooksville was re-named after Jacob Cook in 1836 a businessman who had established an Inn on the land . The town grew vastly as it became a centre of commercial activity and home to the first ever City Hall, an administrative centre for the surrounding townships . This resulted in the communities’ belief that Cooksville would become the permanent core of Mississauga . Which may have been true if it was not for the 1852 fire that destroyed a large part of Cooksville including the City Hall, nonetheless Cooksville was rebounded as a centre for civic, industrial, commercial, and education interests in the Toronto Township . The destruction of it’s core amenities gave room for a new core to establish, and so years later when Bruce McLaughlin got a hold of this opportunity he ran with it, and this is where Square One surfaces .
Square One’s journey begins with Bruce McLaughlin in 1969, a visionary who owned a vast amount of land on the intersection of Burnhamthorpe Rd and Hurontario St, the land Square One Mall is now standing on . From a 2017 perspective building Square One Mall in the location it stands today was a successful venture, but for anyone living in the 1970’s the location of the mall was quit random, this area of Mississauga wasn’t built yet and consisted of a vast amount of “farmland and apple trees” .
Recognizing this fact I was intrigued, I wanted to understand the reason behind the decision to build such a big mall in an area full of family farms and trees. Thus I dug a little deeper into Bruce McLaughlin’s history and what I found was an explanation from Ron Duguette, a long-time employee of McLaughin, who described him as a forward thinker, that was constantly looking deep into the future . As Duguette explains McLaughin “had the foresight to see that there would be major growth west of Toronto, mainly because of the airport” predicting this he took advantage of the potential rewards of building what is now the second largest mall in Canada . Consequently McLaughlin’s bold move of building a giant mall in the middle of farmland resulted in Mississauga’s official transformation in 1974 from a Town to a recognized City .
For McLaughlin Square One was just the beginning, remember the tragic fire in Cooksville that resulted with the destruction of the Town Hall? Well McLaughin sure did and he saw this as the perfect opportunity to expand Mississauga’s new core . He encouraged the city to relocate the construction of a new City Hall next to Square One, and in order to guarantee compliance with his plans he provided the land to build it on for free . Making Square One the initial change that began a domino effect of rapid development within Mississauga, while the new City Hall guaranteed the area to stay the central core of the City .
Today in 2017 Square One and the area around it continues to undergo expansion, and as the population grows and more skyscraper condominiums are built the more the City has McLaughin and his extremely forward thinking to thank. You see McLaughin wanted Mississauga to become a functional multifaceted city and in order to achieve this in the long run the services and utilities for the city were all construction underground, beneath the square one region . This strategic design made it possible for the current high-rise and high-density buildings to have been able to build without any functional issues, and it makes it possible for further expansion . The Absolute Condominiums that were introduced in 2006 known by most as the Monroe Towers became iconic to Mississauga’s image, creating a worldwide-recognized skyline, which helped to attract more projects to the city skyline such as the upcoming M-City condominiums that are under construction today . McLaughin and his teams forward thinking defiantly gave Mississauga the ability to build quickly and with ease, however the great city centre that we see today also has the work of Harold Shipp to thank for. Shipp was a developer who led the team that built the Mississauga Executive Centre back in 1990, which promoted office structures and attracted more businesses to the city centre .
Macro and micro level changes within Canadian societies also contributed to the extensive success of the city and the gentrified expansion of its core. Mississauga’s economic movement away from agriculture work towards business ventures and service work changed the demographic of the population while also increasing the population dramatically . The city’s schools, parks, and facilities such as the YMCA, the Central Library, Mississauga Valley Community Centre, the Living Arts Center, and Celebration Square has attracted middle class and upper-middle class families to the core . With the popularity of condo living on the rise combined with the continues trend of people moving out on their own, the population of the core has expanded drastically as condos are being sold out instantly on the market . The more the core becomes gentrified the more middle and middle-upper class populations cohabitate the houses and condos that are of walking distance from Square One, and the more the lower class are pushed outward.
As the core gentrified, government housing bloomed in Cooksville a place once dubbed the core of the city now become a hub for cheap apartments, authentic food stops, and competitively priced nail salons and barber shops . Referred to by members of the community as 5n10, due to the point of intersect between Dundas St known as Highway 5 and Hurontario St known as Highway 10, Cooksville area is described by the twitter community as a place you go for cheap services but not a place you venture in alone at night . One twitter user finds entertainment in the crimes in the neighbourhood tweeting, “Seeing people get arrested gets me so AMPED #5n10”, while other users mention some of the cheap services you get in the area, “I have to go to the hair store so I might as well get my eyebrows done #5n10” and, “Thank god for laundry service / a dollar s pound / nothing wrong with that #time #saving #sauga #5n10” . These are some of the common dialogues you hear around the city in reference to Cooksville aka 5n10, and though it’s location is not far from the central core where Square One stands, it differs tremendously in terms of class demographic, and businesses.
From my personal experience moving away from the borderline of Etobicoke and to the Mississauga Valley area between Square One and 5n10, I recognize the core for its reliable bus system. However I remember a time where the buses were not as reliable or convenient as they are now, and from my interview with Ms. Hendrix who had moved to Mississauga in 1970 she recalls an almost non-existing bus system, “their was only one likkle white bus it was so small, and if you missed it, it’s hours before you get another one, transportation was bad” . Ms. Hendrix experience compared to my experience with transportation in the city really captures the transformation of Mississauga’s bus system, as it grows it also advances. In recent years Mississauga has invested a lot in revamping their transit system Miway, they have increased bus routes and stops, introduced express buses, built bigger buses with more interior convince such as electrical plugs and reading lights, making every trip more comfortable no matter how short the ride might be . The frequency and accuracy of bus times have also improved, the introduction of the Miway App lets you access information more quickly and conveniently in regards to locations of stops and bus times . Not to mention the building of the Mississauga Transitway in 2013, a highway built exclusively for express and GO buses making trips faster and more convenient . In the spring of 2016 Ontario also invested $6.5 million for Metrolinx to build a new station building separate from the Square One Terminal that makes it easier for Go Bus riders to buy tickets . Overall it is clear that transportation is a key feature for gentrifying a city, as it functions to connect neighborhoods while also reducing traffic. As Mississauga grows the city and the province of Ontario recognizes the necessity of a proper transit system that must function to accommodate the growing dense core.
Mississauga’s core is not only continuously building, but it also is constantly reviving the long-standing amenities and attractions that already exist. In the recent decade we have seen the reconstruction of the Central Library, continuous features being added on to the Civic Centre and Celebration Square which was built quit recently in 2011, the introduction of Mississauga Transitway in 2013, and the revamping of Square One bus terminal, followed by the remodeling and the additional features added to the entire shopping mall .
In the Square One region everywhere you look there are signs of gentrifying development, and as the city continues to build and rebuild it strays further away from the bland suburban town it started out as, appealing to creative thinkers, an upper class, and young professionals.
R. E. was born in Egypt, raised in California, and settled down in Mississauga at the age of 10. She is an open-minded student who loves to meet new people and learn about different cultures.
For more information on Cooksville, see Mahek’s Neighbourhoods Essay which is also featured on Peel Urbanscapes.
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