Modern Mississauga and Heritage Mississauga have come together to present an ongoing series called “Way Back Wednesdays."
We’ll share information about the history of Mississauga here and answer your questions.
Today’s topic is the history of Old Mill Lane, Meadowvale Village
The lazy course of the Credit River belies its importance to the establishment of Meadowvale Village. The founding of mills along the course of the river provided the single greatest incentive to the growth of the surrounding community. Early mills operated by John Simpson and James Crawford paved the way for new growth.
Francis Silverthorn, son of one the Township’s first pioneers, arrived in Meadowvale in 1844 and purchased a portion of John Crawford’s mill allowance. He built a dam and millrace and erected a large sawmill. Silverthorn did a good business and cut about 10,000 board feet a day. The village was formally surveyed in 1856, and the road that led to the mill complex was officially called Mill Street.
Silverthorn expanded his complex in 1845, constructing a large grist mill. His business boomed and farmers from Orangeville, Erin, Malton and locally brought wheat to the mill. In 1853 the mill and its 10,000 bushels of wheat burned. With new financial backing from the Bank of Upper Canada, Silverthorn quickly rebuilt. Unluckily the wheat market collapsed in 1860 following the Crimean War.
Gooderham and Worts, a major stakeholder in the Bank of Upper Canada, acquired Silverthorn’s holdings in 1860 through foreclosure. They added a general store to the milling complex, expanded the mill, upgraded the machinery and increased production considerably. The flour mill produced 300 barrels a day and wagons hauled the product to the railroad in Malton. Fall was the busiest time at the mill, which at harvest time would run for 24 hours a day. By providing employment and stimulating trade, Gooderham and Worts’s mill was the greatest single force in the economic life of the village. When business was good, everyone benefited. When business was poor, everyone was affected. The company opened a large store in the village, employing five clerks, nine tailors, three dressmakers and three milliners. The firm’s large barrel and cooper factory supplied their own and other mills and produced crates and apple barrels for local farmers and fruit growers. The success of the mills brought a steady market for timber and wheat, rapidly clearly the dense forests surrounding the village.
Over the years the fortunes of the mill declined, eventually leading to its demolition. Some foundations, abutments and the mill race are still visible on the landscape. The original Mill Street is now known as Old Mill Lane within the Meadowvale Village Heritage Conservation District.
If you’ve got a question about the history of our city, we want to hear from you.
Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Way Back Wednesday” in the subject line.