The history of Mississauga's Wesley Avenue (Old Sam’s Lane)

Modern Mississauga and Heritage Mississauga have come together to present an ongoing series called “Way Back Wednesday’s."
We’ll share information about the history of Mississauga here and answer your questions.

Today’s topic is the history of Mississauga's Wesley Avenue (Old Sam’s Lane)

Port Credit Harbour Scene, Lakeshore Road bridge looking west, c1880.jpg

In honour of Black History Month in February, we will explore some of our place name connections to early black settlement in historic Mississauga.

As a port town, Port Credit saw its fair share of people from many different places. Samuel Carter was a fugitive slave, who escaped to Canada. He paid a high price for freedom: during his flight from slavery, he lost both his legs due to the exposure to cold. Little is known of his early years, of his story, or even of his life afterwards in Port Credit. He arrived in Port Credit after 1861, and lived there until his passing in October of 1888. It is not known when or where he was born.

In Port Credit Samuel was befriended by James Shaw (1811-1908), a well-known and respected resident of Port Credit. James secured a horse for Samuel, along with some sort of lift that allowed Samuel to get on the horse. Samuel, and using the horse to pull a small wagon, Samuel assisted in transporting people to Sunday service at First Methodist Church.

Samuel lived in a small cabin near the Methodist Manse on a tree-lined dirt laneway that was locally known as “Old Sam’s Lane”. The lane was eventually widened, paved and renamed “Wesley Avenue” – either in reference to the presence of the Wesleyan Methodist Manse or for a local resident, Wesley Watson.

Samuel was apparently well-loved in Port Credit. When he fell ill in the fall of 1887, town residents banded together to make sure he was looked after. Port Credit Council on at least one occasion made money available for Samuel, and in early 1888 Council passed this resolution:

“Moved by Mr. Jackson, and seconded by Mr. Price that the Petition of B.B. Lynd and 22 others be received and that Mr. Lynd and Mr. Oliphant be instructed to have Samuel Carter removed to some place of comfort and have his wants attended to for the present time.”

When Samuel Carter died in October of 1888, Port Credit Council looked after internment expenses.

There are no known pictures of Samuel Carter or of his cabin on “Old Sam’s Lane”.