Modern Mississauga and Heritage Mississauga have come together to present an ongoing series called “Way Back Wednesday.” We’ll share information about the history of Mississauga here and answer your questions.
Today’s topic is the history of Mississauga, Part 1.
Mississauga was born through amalgamation – first as a Town in 1968, and then a City in 1974. But Mississauga has much older roots.
People have traversed this landscape for thousands of years. The first government surveyors made their marks on this place over 200 years ago. Our first settler land grant was in 1806. The story of this place, and its history, is often hidden (or referenced) in plain sight, although we may have, inadvertently and over time, lost connection or understanding with place names and their meaning.
There is an old saying that people do not name things after things that they want to forget. The landscape has memory, even if we may have forgotten the meaning behind a name.
The War of 1812, in a local context, is perhaps one such example. The war was declared in June of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States, and much of the conflict took place on Canadian soil, and involved a large number of Canadian militiamen and families. In June of 1812, historic Mississauga (then known as Toronto Township), had a population of approximately 350 people. The Militia Act of 1808 specified that all able-bodied men between the ages of 16-60 were eligible to be called upon for military service. Practically, however, the target age was 18-40. When the call went out for the militia to form, volunteers were always taken first, and could be augmented by ballots if required. While we do not have exact numbers, when we factor the approximate population from our area at 350 people, and then look at the able-bodied male between ages 18-40, we have a rough estimate of 90 to 100 people that may have been eligible to serve. Of that number, we have identified 57 individuals who volunteered to serve in the militia during the War of 1812. Additionally, 32 people have been identified who served in the war and relocated here immediately following the war. That gives us a total of 89 names who served in the war with connections to this place. Their average age during service was 27 years old, and of the 89 people, 32 of them lie buried in Mississauga today. We have old roots indeed.
Names associated with the War of 1812 are scattered across our landscape, in many cases places and roads named generations ago. Some of those names still found on our landscape include Bradley, Cawthra, Clarkson, Jarvis, Merigold, Robinson, Silverthorn, Street, Thompson, Wilcox and Wolfe, among others. In next week’s article, we will explore some of these name associations.
We are focusing the articles this week and next on the War of 1812 as a way of a primer for an upcoming War of 1812 re-enactment weekend: The Engagement at Bradley War of 1812 weekend takes place on October 19-20 at the Bradley Museum (1620 Orr Road): https://www.2ndyork.com/events