Streetsville -population 55,600 is an established and primarily upper-middle class community located in the northwestern corner of the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, on the Credit River. Although Streetsville occupies both the west and east banks of the river, the majority is located on the west bank of the river.
Although the former village is surrounded by modern suburban development, it seeks to keep a "small town" charm by retaining a variety of historical buildings and streetscapes. As part of this attempt to maintain a separate identity from the larger city, the names of several main Mississauga roads, as they pass through Streetsville, revert to what they were called when Streetsville was an independent village. These include Mississauga Road and Bristol Road, which revert to Queen Street and Main Street respectively. Other main thoroughfares that cross Streetsville include Creditview Road, Eglinton Avenue, and Britannia Road.
Streetsville: Timothy Street and the Founding of Streetsville
Timothy Street first became connected with this area in 1818 when, together with his partner Richard Bristol, applied to undertake a survey of northern Toronto Township. Timothy financed the government survey between 1818 and 1819, while Bristol oversaw the actual work. As partial payment for his services, Street received several grants of land, amounting to over 4500 acres throughout Peel and Halton. One of these extensive land grants was along the Credit River, including much of the future village site.
The first settler in the Streetsville area was James Glendinning who, on April 21st 1819, received a land grant along Mullet Creek. In 1821, Timothy built a grist mill along the Credit River, followed a year later by a lumber and saw mill, much to the benefit of surrounding settlers. He later added a tannery and distillery. It was not until 1825 that Street permanently relocated to this area. In 1825, he built a brick home, believed to be the oldest surviving brick house in Peel, overlooking his milling complex at the foot of Mill Street. The village officially became Streetsville in 1829 when the first post office opened, under post master Israel Ransom.
Timothy died in 1848. Although the Street family ceased to be associated with the milling complex in the years following Timothy’s death, the village remains a testimony to his good judgment, industriousness and dedication.
Streetsville: The Early Years, 1819-1830
A lot, but not all, of the early settling families were farmers and relied greatly on the Credit River not only for transportation but also as a source of fresh water and water power. In part due to availability of water power and the establishment of mills by Timothy Street and others, the area also began to attract early business-minded individuals. In 1821 John Barnhart opened a general store and trading post called the Montreal House. His store supplied many needed goods for early settlers, and between the Barnhart store and Street’s mills, the core of the burgeoning community was established.
Possibly as early as 1823 a bridge over the Credit River was established, likely the first bridge across the river north of Dundas Street, thereby making the emerging community a key crossing and stopping place for early settlers. In 1824 Timothy Street donated land for the creation of a Protestant Cemetery, and the community soon added both a Methodist Chapel and Presbyterian Church. By 1828 the community had added another general store, this one under the direction of Israel Ransom. Also in 1828, a Loyal Orange Lodge was established, in part due to the leadership of “Commodore” Henry Rutledge, who also donated land for the building of an Anglican Church. The first doctor was Dr. John Crumbie, who arrived in 1829 and served a wide area around the emerging community.
Streetsville: Village Emerges, 1830-1867
By 1835, Streetsville had attracted many merchants and tradesmen. The community was becoming the political and economic centre of the surrounding township, with the Credit River acting as the backbone of the village. Grist mills, sawmills and tanneries were established milling enterprises along the river. Just south of Streetsville was William Comfort’s mill site, which was purchased by the Barber Brothers in 1843. At its height the Barber mill was home to one of the largest woollen manufacturing centres in Canada.
Jabez Barnhart founded the Streetsville Semi-Weekly Register in 1843, and three years later his brothers, Solomon and John, established the The Review, the first weekly newspaper publication between Toronto and Windsor. By 1850, with a population of 1000, Streetsville had emerged as the most prosperous and populous village in Peel County. Early directories list several mills, a tannery, foundry, cooperage, pottery, brickyard, blacksmiths, shoemakers, carriage shops, tinsmith, brewery, telegraph office, physicians, tailors, gunsmith, watchmaker, broom and pail factory, millinery, carpenter, furniture manufacturer, stave factory, bobbin factory, four churches, an Orange Lodge, and two schools.
The village was home to notable businessmen such as the Beatys, Embletons, Graydons, Gooderhams, Howards and Hydes. Streetsville also had several inns and hotels, including the Telegraph House, Globe Hotel, Tyrone Inn, Franklin House, Pacific Hotel and Royal Hotel. In time, the village would have its own baseball, hockey, lawn bowling and cricket clubs as well as an agricultural fair (which began as early as 1843), and an established fairgrounds. 1851 saw the opening of the Streetsville Grammar School, Toronto Township’s first secondary school. In 1854 a Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Institute was founded, which was the forerunner of the public library.
The intersection of Queen Street and Main Street quickly became the commercial hub of the community, anchored in large part by the enterprises of the Barnhart’s Montreal House and John Embleton’s store. In 1858, Streetsville had a population of around 1,500, and incorporated as a village, with John Street, Timothy’s son, serving as the first Reeve. Streetsville was considered by many as the “Queen of the County”, and was the most populated and prosperous area in Peel County. The coming of the railways in the 1850s, which initially bypassed Streetsville, brought a halt to the village’s prosperity. By Confederation the population had dwindled to 750 inhabitants.
Streetsville: An Enduring Heritage
Although Streetsville’s prosperity peaked before 1867, the village continued to thrive after the arrival of the Credit Valley Railway in 1879. It was too late, however, for the village to supplant Brampton as the business and political centre of Peel. Much of the existing built form of Streetsville dates from the post-Confederation period, and reflects the story of this prosperous and industrial rural village.
Many of the mills, which were once the lifeblood of the village, began to close in the early 20th century. Timothy’s mill, later owned by John Blain, John Dracass, and V.C. Johnston, amongst others, burned in 1929. The Temperance Act spelled the end for most of Streetsville’s inns and hotels. The Royal Hotel, the last operating hotel in Streetsville, closed in the 1940s. The village gradually changed from an industrial mill-town into a small business and services centre.
By 1951, the population of Streetsville was registered as 1,139 people. The village officially became a town on January 1st, 1962, and the town’s first mayor was Frank Dowling. However, the town could not expand, as it was surrounded by the new Town of Mississauga (formerly Toronto Township), and bordered on one side by the Credit River. In 1974, the Town of Streetsville amalgamated with the Towns of Mississauga and Port Credit to form the City of Mississauga.
Since 1973, Streetsville has been home to the annual Streetsville Founders Bread and Honey Festival, an event which celebrates this unique village, its history, and continues the tradition of annual fairs. Streetsville is also home to one of Mississauga’s oldest cenotaphs, which was erected in 1925 by the Streetsville Overseas Veterans Association in honour of those Streetsville residents who served and died overseas. A walk through Streetsville offers a unique chance to stroll through streetscapes that have remained relatively unchanged for over a century. Streetsville is home to the largest concentration of historic buildings in the City of Mississauga, many of which have served many different purposes over the years. A good example of this is the Streetsville Village Hall, which has served, over its history, as a tinsmith shop, public library, and village hall.