Thursday, 19 May 2016

My City: Mississauga



When I travel abroad, say Buffalo, I tell people I’m from Toronto. I’m not. I’m from Mississauga.

City Hall--photo via mississauga.ca

The reason I state Toronto rather than Mississauga, is because most people haven’t heard of Mississauga. There are exceptions of course. There’s always someone who knows somebody who lives in Mississauga.

They say things like, “My wife’s best friend has family there. The McLaren’s. Do you know them?” I don’t.

Or

 “Mississauga. Like Mississippi??” No.

montage via https://en.wikipedia.org

The name, ‘Mississauga’, comes from the Algonquian Mississaugas, a First Nations tribe originally from the Georgian Bay area of Ontario. With the mighty Credit River flowing through its land, what was once a Toronto bedroom community, is now Canada’s sixth largest city. It's comprised of several unique villages, many of which retain their original charm.

Port Credit lighthouse photo via https://en.wikipedia.org

The city’s population boomed as Toronto city-dwellers looked for places to raise families. Many made the move west—to Mississauga. They got more bang for their buck by living here, while commuting there. Today, thousands of Mississaugans still make the daily commute to Toronto for work. Many more however, now live and work in our city, thanks to over 50 international corporations with Canadian headquarters here, companies like Microsoft, General Mills, Wal-Mart, NCR, to name a few.

I’ve not written about my city. It’s high-time I do. This is therefore, an introduction to the city I have called home for over 30 years. And yes, I came west with family in tow. The first home in Mississauga was in fact a pretty tiny house, but it had a massive yard. There was lots of space for kids, grandparents and a dog to run around in. The driveway fit more cars than we owned, the neighbours were on first-name basis and did not mind their own business. It was life in what used to be the village of Cooksville.

And that’s the thing about this city--you don’t just live in Mississauga, you live in a village. One Mississaugan meeting another will always state the village he/she lives in. It might sound pretentious to an outsider, but here, it’s what we do.

I now live in Clarkson. My favourite library is in Lorne Park. Port Credit has the best summer festivals. Streetsville has the most charm, and on it goes. 

Streetsville photo via http://www.villageofstreetsville.com/

I’ll be writing a bit more on Mississauga over the next while. For now, here are just a few fun facts:
  • 1974 was the year Mississauga became a city.

  • The city of Mississauga has only ever had 4 mayors and I doubt many residents can tell you who they were/is, with the exception of: Hazel McCallion. Hazel was our mayor for 36 years. Thirty-six! In the latter years of her political career, Hazel didn’t even campaign for the job. She put her name on the ballot and that was that. You either voted for her or you didn’t. We did.

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s busiest airport, is actually in Mississauga. When you fly into YYZ, it’s not Toronto you’re landing in. (No one ever tells you this!)

  • The “largest peacetime evacuation” occurred on November 10, 1979 when a 106 car freight train carrying explosive and poisonous chemicals derailed near Mavis Rd. and Dundas St.

  • We are home to Trillium Health Partners, comprised of two hospitals in Mississauga and one in Toronto. It can be a bit confusing with people showing up at the 'wrong' hospital on occasion, (yes, I've done this) but hey, it's top-notch healthcare and there's never a bill to settle. Never. Ever.

  • Square One Shopping Centre, with over 360 stores, is located at the City Centre and is one of Canada largest shopping malls.
  • Igor Gowzenko, a Russian Embassy to Canada employee, defected in 1945 with over 100 documents supporting Soviet espionage activities in the West. His actions had major ramifications. He lived the rest of his life under an assumed name, and wore a hood over his face for anonymity when making public appearances. After the whole spy broo-ha-ha thing, he settled in Clarkson, and is buried two blocks from where I live. 

Am I the only one who finds this fascinating?