In my last two blog entries on Port Credit’s street names, I talked about how some of the village’s streets got their familiar name. This article is more of a challenge. I’m going to speculate on Port Credit street names whose origins are unrecorded.
Heritage Week 2023: On the Streets of Port Credit
Heritage Week 2023: On the Streets of Port Credit
Heritage Week (February 20 to 26, 2023) provides a wonderful opportunity for individuals and communities to reflect on their contributions to Ontario, how heritage is conserved, promoted, and commemorated, and how they might shape the future.
Port Credit is rich in history and heritage, much of our history remains in the names of the streets that flow through Port Credit.
Port Credit’s Street Names Reveal More than Where Your House Is!
Port Credit’s history is written in the names of its streets. Some names are easy enough to figure out. Lakeshore Road got its name because when Mississauga-to-be was surveyed in 1806, it was the concession road closest to the lake shore. Port Street leads to the village’s port. Hurontario is the original colonization road (the road that early settlers took to get to their remote land grant) that connects Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.
Other street names tell a more subtle tale of this village’s past. For example, have you noticed that the streets in the centre of the village are segregated? Just like the pupils at Port Credit’s first one-room schoolhouse, boys are on the left and girls are on the right.
Robert Lynn was a surveyor for the Crown – a civil servant whose job entailed moving from town to town laying out street plans in early Upper Canada. Lynn arrived in Port Credit in 1837 to lay out a village on the west side of the Credit River to provide homes for workers at the new harbour then under construction at the mouth of the river. Lynn identified the north-south streets on his map as Joseph, John and Peter in honour of the three indigenous councilors of the nearby Credit Mission. John and Peter Jones were broth-ers. Their uncle, Joseph Sawyer was the elder chief. These three were also the indigenous directors of the Port Credit Harbour Company.
When Port Credit became part of the City of Mississauga, there was already a Joseph Street in Streetsville so, to avoid confusion the Joseph Street in Port Credit was renamed Mississauga Road because this road connected to the already-existing Mississauga Road north of the railway tracks.
It still doesn’t still well with some local residents that the village lost its memorial link to one of the vil-lage’s indigenous founders. The City could have retained the memorial link to the past by renaming Joseph Street after Joseph’s original Anishinabe name, but imagine living on the street today and having to tell the UberEats guy to deliver your latenight snack to Nawachjekezhegwabe Street.
Spell it out in syllables – Nawa Chek Ez Heg Wa Be. (Maybe ‘Mississauga Road’ was for the best.) Or, how awesome would it be to live on Sloping Sky Street? That’s the English translation of Joseph’s birth name.
But back to the early village’s boys and girls. In 1857, in response to Port Credit’s rapid growth, crown sur-veyors George Boulton and John Stoughton Dennis were sent in to lay out the village streets on the east side of the river. They gave them the names Ann, Helene and Elizabeth. After 20 years of diligent research on my part, I’ve yet to find out why Boulton and Dennis chose these names – other than that these three female names are a counterpoint to Joseph, Peter and John. Anne, Helene and Elizabeth aren’t the wives of the three men on the other side (although Peter’s wife was Eliza – a close match for Elizabeth.)
A possible clue was Queen Street, which intersects with all three ladies. It was definitely named for Victo-ria. It seems every village in Ontario has a Queen Street. (Mississauga has two. The other is in Streetsville, but unlike Joseph Street, Port Credit got to keep its Queen Street because ours is Queen Street East and West, while Streetsville’s main street is Queen Street North and South.) Anyway, that got me thinking that the three mystery streets might be named for the little princesses. Not knowing their names by heart, I gave them the royal google and discovered that Victoria’s third daughter (born just before completion of the survey of the east side of town) was Helena. Close to Helene, but still suspicious. As for Ann and Eliza-beth, I figured they were sure shots. These two names have been perennial favourites with Britain’s royal family for generations but, as it turns out, not with Victoria. No little Ann or Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. I suspect after all this time trying to find an answer, there isn’t one. But I’ll keep at it.
In my next article, I’ll tell you about more street names in Port Credit. Wish me luck.
Richard Collins, Local Historian
Photo: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Chief Sawyer of the Credit by James Spencer (1812-1863).
It was at a recent get-together with friends at The Brogue Irish Pub that I saw an old licence plate on display on a post with what appeared to be some really bad math. On this licence plate is engraved “26+6=1”. I could have put some effort, at the time, into figuring out what that meant but since I was at The Brogue for some “craic”, I quickly put an end to any furthering thinking, and got back to my Guinness. (When I got home that evening, my calculator assured me that the correct answer is 32; not 1.)
Joyce May Firman was the first female letter carrier in Ontario and Canada’s first female long-term letter carrier who carved a path for women letter carriers in Canada. Back in 1967, the all-male carriers estimated she wouldn't last two weeks and they were going to the Letter Carriers' Union of Canada to do something about this woman in their midst.