The story of Port Credit begins long before the arrival of non-Native settlers. Archaeological evidence suggests that Native peoples were attracted to the Credit River Valley over a period of thousands of years. By 1700 the Ojibwa had driven the Iroquois from the North Shore of Lake Ontario, and a group of Ojibwa, known as the Mississaugas, had settled around the mouth of the Credit River. The Mississaugas referred to the river as “Mi sinihe” or “Trusting Water”, a name derived from the custom of trading on trust, or credit. The British Crown established a trading post and Government Inn on the east bank of the Credit River in 1796. On August 2nd, 1805, at the mouth of the Credit River, the Mississaugas signed a land treaty with the British Crown. The Mississaugas reserved a one-mile strip of land on either side of the River. Old Port Credit Village, on the west side of the Credit River, was surveyed by Robert Lynn on June 20, 1835, and construction of a harbour began almost immediately. The departure of the Mississaugas in 1847 opened up the Credit River to commercial expansion and Port Credit went through a period of tremendous economic growth as a harbour. This prosperous period ended in the mid-1850s as a result of both a great fire, which destroyed the west end of the harbour, and the construction of the Grand Trunk and Great Western Railways, which diverted commerce away from the village.
Towards the end of the century, the stonehooking trade kept the port alive, and Port Credit slowly began to recover. The arrival of the St. Lawrence Starch Company, in 1889, and other large industries, such as the Port Credit Brickyard, revitalized Port Credit’s economy. Port Credit soon became a shopping area for tourists and travellers. Port Credit became a Police Village in 1909 and was incorporated as a Village in 1914. Port Credit acquired Town status in 1961 and was amalgamated into the City of Mississauga in 1974. Old Port Credit still retains much of its architectural character and early street names. In 2005, Old Port Credit Village was designated as a Heritage Conservation District.
Peter Street is named for Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby), who was a Chief of the Mississaugas and a Methodist Minister. Peter helped to shape both the Native and non- Native communities around him. Also Mississauga Road South was originally called Joseph Street after Mississauga Chief Joseph Sawyer. John Street was named after John Jones, brother of Peter Jones.
PORT CREDIT LIGHTHOUSE
(1991) 105 Lakeshore Road W.
One of the most familiar sights near any harbour is a lighthouse, and Port Credit has had its share of them. The first was constructed in 1863 by Frederick Chase Capreol. The lighthouse, which was built out in the harbour, was taken over by the Ontario government in 1882. A 1908 flood separated the lighthouse from the mainland and in 1918 the lighthouse closed. The old lighthouse burned in 1936. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1991 and, while not an historic structure, is a reminder of Port Credit’s marine heritage. It is a Peel Region pumping station and the home of the Port Credit BIA. From its deck one can get a very good view of the Credit River and Port Credit harbour.
PORT CREDIT HARBOUR
& The Stonehookers
Always a natural safe haven from lake storms, the harbour proper began when the Port Credit Harbour Company was founded in 1834. The construction of two wharves and a warehouse allowed for the export of goods by loading them onto larger boats that could go long distances to other parts of Canada and the world. The harbour reached its peak between 1880 and 1900 with the advent of stonehooking; one of the primary building materials for construction in Toronto was shale from the bottom of Lake Ontario. The vessels that raised this stone were called Stonehookers and a great many of them were based at Port Credit. The trade started in the mid 1800s and lasted till about 1910 when inland quarries opened up. The peak of the trade was in 1881 when 23 stonehooking vessels operated out of Port Credit. Today the historic harbour is home to recreational activities.
ABRAM BLOCK Jr. HOUSE
(c.1850) 42 Front Street S.
Although altered, this is the Ontario Cottage was the home of Abram Block Jr. and his wife Susannah. Block was a mariner and stonehooker captain of the Mary E. Ferguson. He also built and repaired boats with John Miller, who was the lighthouse keeper, in a workshop located in the Front Street road allowance near his house. He was also a school trustee for 42 years and was active in the Port Credit Methodist (later, First United) Church. Block acquired this property in 1882, and likely built this house shortly thereafter. The home remains a private family residence today.
(c.1850) 32 Front Street S.
In 1850, Captain James Wilcox built this Georgian Survival home. He operated it first as an inn, intended as a haven for weary sailors and harbour workers, for three years. Sometime before 1855, he returned to his former employ as a Lake Captain, engaging in all kinds of lake trade, including stonehooking, commercial fishing, lumbering, and transporting all sorts of goods between Hamilton, Port Credit and Toronto. Over the years, the Wilcox Inn served a variety of purposes. By 1888 however, it was used as community hall for social gatherings. In 1891, the inn was renovated and used for church services. Later, the old inn became the meeting hall for the first Peel Temperance Society, under the direction of Captain John Miller. It is a private family residence today.
J.C. SADDINGTON PARK
J.C. Saddington Park stretches along the south side of Lake Street in Old Port Credit Village, and offers visitors picnic facilities, barbecues, a comfort station, recreational trails, play facilities, picnic areas and a pond. The park is also part of the Waterfront Trail, which connects westward through the adjacent Texaco Lands. Saddington Park was created out of landfill deposited in Lake Ontario between 1949 and 1970, in part to protect against further erosion of the shoreline that was threatening properties. The park was named for J.C. Saddington, former Reeve and Town Mayor of Port Credit. Located within the park are the remains of the former Port Credit Waterworks. These brick structures date to 1922-23. The opening of the waterworks represented a significant advancement in Port Credit infrastructure. Several houses were once located along the south side of Lake Street, within the bounds of the modern park. Some of these dwellings are noted to have been relocated.
PORT CREDIT FIRE HALL
(1955) 62 Port Street
This two-storey red brick building is the oldest fire hall remaining in Mississauga. The fire hall was officially opened on December 12, 1955. Built by local builders H. Lee & Sons, the building originally served as a combination fire hall and police hall for Port Credit.
(c.1845) 47 Port Street
One of the most important influences on Port Credit’s social and religious development was the introduction of Methodism. The primary leaders in the Methodist movement were Rev. Peter Jones, a Mississauga chief of Welsh and Native heritage, his brother John, and Egerton Ryerson, who would eventually establish Ontario’s public school system. The Jones brothers began preaching, in 1826, to the Native Mississaugas, who erected a shelter to serve as a chapel and a school. In 1828, the church was rebuilt as a log mission house, and then in the mid 1840s a new lime and lumber building was constructed on Lakeshore Road. In 1894, this building was moved to its present location where it was used as a community hall. The local Masonic lodge bought and renovated the building in 1915.
CLARKE MEMORIAL HALL
(c.1922) 161 Lakeshore Road W.
Mary Louise Clarke and her husband, Alfred Russell Clarke, were among the wealthier Torontonians who established summer retreats at Lorne Park Estates. Mary Louise had Clarke Memorial Hall built in 1922 in memory of her husband. Alfred Russell Clarke was on his way to England for business in 1915, aboard the now famous ocean liner “Lucitania.” Although he survived the sinking, Alfred caught pneumonia and died shortly afterwards in a London hospital, never returning to Canada. The hall itself was finished in 1922, and upon completion, Mary donated the hall to the United Church. During the Depression, due to financial reasons, the church gave control of the hall to the Village of Port Credit. For many years the hall was used as a community hall and was the site of municipal offices from 1941 to 1974. The building’s classical columns, Italianate brackets, Renaissance Revival Dutch gable and the Spanish clay roof tiles show the architectural eclecticism common during the 1920s.
FIRST UNITED CHURCH
(c.1894) 151 Lakeshore Road W.
The earlier church on the site, which was built in 1845, was relocated and a portion of the present building was built in 1894. Formerly the Port Credit Methodist Church, this building became an incorporated chapel of the First United Church in 1925. It had been the third meeting place for Port Credit’s Methodists, and was originally constructed of red brick. New additions and an extension were added in 1942 and 1950 respectively, and the entire church was sheathed in cut stone to harmonize the exterior. The original portion of the church, now missing its original tower, fronts onto Lakeshore Road, while the 1950 extension now houses First United Church.