Given Road – Mississauga

Saturday Apr. 2, 2016

Given Road in Mississauga is an example of a public road that was created on private property and then given over to the community for general use.  Until 1971 it extended across the former Credit Valley Railway (now Canadian Pacific Railway) tracks to serve an orchard of over 700 trees that spread along both sides of Cooksville Creek.  Central Parkway and Mississauga Valley Boulevard were built between 1971 and 1973 through this orchard and the surrounding farmland.  A new residential community was created north of the CPR tracks and the road was closed just south of them.

When the county was surveyed it was laid out in a series of 1000 acre rectangles that contained five 200 acre lots or ten 100 acre half-lots each.  Road allowances or concessions were required around the four sides of the rectangle.  Land owners occasionally built a road other than those required by the survey and these often were called given roads.  There is a given road running north off of Dundas Street near Cooksville which is marked in red on the county atlas below.  Given Road was later extended north of the railway tracks.  The lot of land on the west of the given road was owned by Gardner and has the Cooksville Creek flowing through it.  Today part of this lot is known as R. Jones Park.  The little church shown on the extreme right along Dundas is the Union Church in the ghost town of Dixie.

Given Road

The name Walterhouse appears on the east side of Given Road and represents an early and prominent name in the Cooksville area.  William Walterhouse arrived around 1809 and by 1877 the county atlas shows several properties owned by various family members.  Lewis and then Frank Walterhouse operated the Cooksville blacksmith shop.  The Gardner family, which owned the property on the west side of Given Road, were also prominent in the area.  Until 1862 the crossroad community at Britannia Road and Hurontario Street was known as Gardner’s Clearing.

Where the road is now closed there is parking and an entrance to the park.  This entrance is the lane way to a house that was removed around the same time as the road was closed. Today the site can be identified by a series of yucca plants that are growing in the woods. Yucca plants don’t grow wild in Ontario and are indications of former gardens.  The dried leaves of the plant have a low ignition temperature and are ideal for starting fires if using just friction.

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The foundations for the house remain on the embankment looking out over the creek. Along with the house foundations are several old railway ties and this makeshift looking artifact.  It is made of old railway rails, bricks, concrete blocks, stone, old pipes and a steel wheel.

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The house can be seen at the lower right in this 1969 aerial photograph.

house 1

The row of trees in the cover photograph ran between the first and second house south of the railway tracks.  There was a set of semi-circular drive ways that stood in front of the house.  Today only the pavement and the curbs remain while the site of the house is now a field.

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The aerial photo below shows the house and the curved lane ways on the lower left.

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It was a day for snakes to be out looking for sunshine to warm them.  Garter snakes hibernate in dens that can house up to 8,000 snakes.  They are also known to travel extended distances to reach one of these dens for the winter.  It is common for other snake species to join them in the den.  Given the large number of snakes encountered in this small park it is likely that there is a den along Cooksville Creek.  Garter snakes range in size from about 55-137 centimeters.

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The Dekay’s Brown Snake is one of the species that is known to hibernate with garter snakes.  Dekay’s are somewhat smaller than garter snakes ranging from about 25 to 50 centimeters long.  This one is well disguised as it is laying in the leaves hoping for some sunshine to warm it up.  Snakes are ectothermic which means that they get heat from their environment rather than being endothermic and generating it internally like we do. This specimen was lying dormant waiting for the sun to come out so it could bask in it and heat itself up.  Ectothermic creatures are vulnerable while sunning or, in this case, while conserving energy waiting for the sun to come out.

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Cooksville Creek is a small stream that runs for about 16 kilometers from near Bristol Road and Hurontario Street to where it flows into Lake Ontario.

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South along Cooksville Creek are the remains of a third house.  Along with the foundations for this house are the remains of several out buildings.  One unique remnant of this former home is the rare double wells.  A close look at the picture below reveals that there are two filled in wells which stood side by side.  The concrete cover to one of these wells is laying in the woods near here.

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A lamp post for a former set of athletic fields lies decaying in the woods.  This post has been cut off with a chain saw but a second one nearby remains intact.

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The Credit Valley Railroad arrived in Cooksville in 1871 with a station in town.  The rail line crossed Cooksville Creek on a trestle with stone piers.  The original pier was repaired with concrete at the top when the rail corridor was double tracked and a new concrete pier built beside to cut stone original.

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Given Road has seen a lot of changes over the years and the remnants of past uses are scattered throughout the woods but the secret of who built the road and why they gave it in the first place remains hidden.

Google Maps link: Given Road

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