Tag Archives: Meadowvale

Lakes Aquitaine and Wabukayne

Saturday May 14, 2016

Two man-made lakes hide among the mid-1970’s planned community of Meadowvale West. Lake Aquitaine and Lake Wabukayne form a beautiful green oasis in the middle of apartment buildings and townhouses.

On April 25, 1969 Markborough Properties Limited announced their plans to develop a 3,000 acre community that would include three levels of schools, a community centre, a major retail centre and a park with a lake.  A place where people could live, work, shop and play.  The new community in the Streetsville and Meadowvale area would provide the biggest growth in the history of the new city of Mississauga.  On Dec. 14, 1970 a tree was planted to mark the beginning of construction and to remind the contractors of the city in the country theme of the development.  In 1971 Streetsville Mayor, Hazel McCallion, presided over the opening of the information centre that started to sell the community. By 1973 Fletcher Switzer’s property had been developed for townhouses but the farms south of it were still clearly visible in aerial photographs.  By 1975 Isaac Wylie’s house had been removed and the section of the 5th line west coloured in yellow on the 1877 county atlas below had been closed and abandoned.


When the master plan was developed it was decided to include a large park with a man-made lake on it.  The former Isaac Wylie property was chosen because of the small creek that flowed just south of the apple orchards.  Excavation for the lake began in September 1976 and when completed in November 1977 a 41 acre piece of land had been transformed into a park. A 12 acre lake containing 37 million gallons of water had been created and it was surrounded by 28 acres of parkland.  A 1 acre settling pool was included to remove pollutants before local run-off water was released into the lake.  Lake Aquitaine is 460 feet wide and 1780 feet long and the depth of 14-16 feet is perfect for the 3,300 rainbow trout that were stocked in it.  Robins, Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks all have hatched their little ones around the lake.  This female Mallard has her brood of five new born ducklings and is going for a stroll along the boardwalk.


This archive photo shows the lake during construction looking north.  A spillway was created to act as an overflow to control the level of the lake by allowing water to flow over the top if it rose too high.


The picture below shows the Lake Aquitaine spillway as seen looking south today.  Notice how wetland grasses have taken over the sides of the lake.


The trail continues past the spillway and along the shore of the lake.  Here, a rather sickly looking raccoon was hanging around listlessly at the water’s edge.  It is rare to see one so skinny in an urban environment where they have access to plenty of food.  This animal likely has canine distemper which is the same disease that dogs can get.


Water flows over a small dam from the settling pond into Lake Aquitaine in the picture below.


The residents of Meadowvale West have the luxury of a set of six exercise stations known as the Lake Aquitaine Exercise Circuit.  These stations provide sets of exercise equipment spaced along the 1.4 kilometer trail that loops around the lake.  Other residents, like a lady with a purse full of  peanuts, walk the loop daily.  This particular lady has a name for each of the local squirrels and stops to chat with them and throw them a peanut.  As a result the local population is healthy and very friendly.


When Lake Aquitaine was nearing completion a massive landscaping project was initiated that included planting 1265 trees and over 15,000 shrubs.  130,000 square yards of sod were laid and the paved walkways were lined with benches and lanterns.  Over the last 40 years the park has taken on a more mature feel and there are places where the hillsides are covered with hundreds of small maple trees.  These will form the basis for a forest a couple of decades from now.


The Lake Wabukayne Trail runs south from Lake Aquitaine and forms a 4.9 km loop around the second lake.  The trail was laid out in 1976 when the sewage system was set up for the new development.  Mature pine trees now line the trail along one section and the one pictured below is leaking pine resin.  This material, when collected and lit, makes an excellent candle that can burn for hours.


The county atlas above shows that almost every farm in the area included a large orchard. Orchards are illustrated as rows of dots, usually near the larger square dot that represents the house.  Many apple trees remain in the parks and they are in blossom this weekend.


Lake Wabukayne is named after Chief Wabukanyne of the Eagle Clan of the Mississauga Natives who lived at the Credit River.  His name appears on the “First Purchase”, the treaty of 1805 which sold much of the GTA to the British Government, and translates as White Snow.  In 1829 Henry Cook settled on Lot 6.  The farm stayed in the family with Peter being the owner at the time of the atlas above.  In the 1940’s Cecil Cook built a dam across Wabukayne Creek to create a cattle pond on the property.  When the planned community of Erin Mills was built the pond was converted to serve as flood control and was renamed after the creek that feeds it.  It has since regenerated and is home to many species of wild life.  Wabukayne Creek flows into Mullet Creek and eventually over a secret set of waterfalls before making it to the Credit River.  The picture below shows the dam that controls the water level in Lake Wabukayne.


Lake Wabukayne includes a unique floating island.  This island provides a safe habitat for ducks and other wild life.  As well as providing protection from wind and wave erosion the roots from the floating plants also help to filter the lake.  The floating island can be seen in the picture below surrounded by a series of white buoys.


The Meadowvale Community Centre officially opened on Jan. 23, 1982 and would have made a great place to park for a hike around the two lakes except the parking lot is not accessible at the moment.  After 3 years of planning, the 30 year old community centre was shut down in July 2014 for extensive updates and expansions.  It is scheduled to re-open on Oct. 22, 2016.  Parking is scarce in the neighbourhood but some can be found at the Meadowvale Town Centre.  This retail mall was opened on Jan. 25th 1978 to serve the planned community.

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Meadowvale Cultural Heritage District

Saturday March 28th, 2015

This is a second part to the post Silverthorne Grist Mill – Meadowvale.

In 1805 the “old survey” was completed in which the native people sold their lands except for 1 mile on either side of the Credit river.  When the “new survey” was completed in 1818 the river was ceded as well and this opened the area up to settlers who wanted access to the river to build saw or grist mills.  John Beatty arrived in 1819 and was the first settler in the area.  Huge pine trees lined the hill sides but a grassy meadow lay around the river.  From this came the name of the town, Meadowvale.  From 1819 until the mid-20th century the town changed very little.  It remained centred around a triangle of streets wedged between Derry Road, Second Line and the Credit River.  As the city of Mississauga started to grow wildly in the 1970’s the people of Meadowvale started to worry that their small town would lose it’s historical charm. They applied to have the town formally recognized as Ontario’s first Cultural Heritage District.

The following is a look at some of the heritage buildings in the village of Meadowvale.  Others have been featured in the post Silverthorne Grist Mill.

Known as the “Hill House” this little home was built in 1840 and is one of the oldest homes in the village.  It has always remained a private residence belonging to the Hill family after 1896. The early Methodist church meetings were held in this house until the church was built in 1863.


George Bell (no relation to the famous Blue Jay) was the town blacksmith and in 1844 he purchased land from mill owner John Simpson on which to build the first hotel in Meadowvale.   Bell Hotel was built across the street from the grist mill at 1090 Old Derry Road.  For awhile it was also known as Temperance Hotel.  The building is currently in use as residential apartments.


In 1852 the Brick Hotel was constructed at 1051 Old Derry Road by Matthew Laidlaw.  The stacked open veranda was on the original building but was removed before 1900.  Guests would sit out here to enjoy the evening and get coated with dust from the street in front of the hotel.  The veranda was replaced in recent years.


In 1857 Meadowvale got it’s first post master in the person of Luther Cheyne.  The post office was operated out of Silverthorne’s store.  In 1860 Cheyne built a home at 7053 Pond Street that was sold to the Farnells in 1890.  In 1920 it was bought by two ladies who opened the Apple Tree Inn tea room in the house.  When this closed in 1944 the house again became a private residence.


Weslyan Methodist was the primary denomination in much of early Upper Canada.  The 1863 church on the corner of Derry and Second line has had a front porch, or narthex, added to it over the years.  There is a trim of yellow bricks around the top of the older part of the building that can be glimpsed behind the tree on the right hand side.  In 1925 the Methodist church joined 3 other denominations to form the United Church of Canada.  Today it serves the United Church in town.


The 1870’s were a period of prosperity for Meadowvale while the mills were under the ownership of Gooderham and Worts.  This photo shows the Gooderham Estate as it looked around 1900.  The current house is featured in the Silverthorne mill post.

Gooderham House c1900_th (1)

Around 1870 Johnson’s wagon and blacksmith shops were built at 1101 Willow Lane close to the grist mill.  The original 1870 house still stands on the property as well as a grand old fashioned mansion that was built in 1999 in a style that fits the character of the village.  The wagon shop is featured in the cover photo and the blacksmith shop is below.  Notice the two windows in the second floor of the wagon shop.  Painted parts would be left upstairs to dry.


In 1870 the Graham house was built next to the Methodist Church on land donated by John Simpson for a home for his daughter Elizabeth and her husband.  This is one of the more ornate homes in town.


In 1871 a second school was built to replace the old one that stood at the corner of Barberry Lane and Second Line.  The first one had been built in 1851 and was used as a private residence after the new school was built.  Barberry Lane was originally named second street but was renamed after the Barbers who lived in the old school house.  The old school house was lost to a fire in 1974.  The new school was built just behind the Methodist church on land donated by the Simpson Family. It has served as the town hall since 1968.


In 1879 the Credit Valley Railroad came to Meadowvale.  The chief financial backer was George Laidlaw who was responsible for much of the rail system in and around Toronto.  The picture below shows the CVR station for Meadowvale around 1905.


The homes in the village were mostly built prior to the time of running water.  They would have had an outhouse for a washroom and a hand pump for their well.  Many of the homes in town still have their old pumps on the front lawn.  (Fortunately it looks like they all have indoor washrooms now making that cold winter trip a part of history as well.)


Along Second Line stands this old post.  A reminder of the days when mail service was made to individual post boxes set at the end of a person’s driveway.


Today people must go the a “super box” gazebo to collect their mail.  The mail gazebo is located on top of the ruins of the old mill. The old mixed with the new.  In the picture below the old mill ruins can be seen in the background behind the gazebo.


Meadowvale is full of heritage houses only a few of which have been featured here.  It is a quiet community of narrow streets with no curbs or sidewalks.  A time capsule tucked in the heart of the city of Mississauga.

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Silverthorne Grist Mill – Meadowvale

Saturday March 28, 2015

(Revised March 31st)

It was minus 10 with a wind chill of minus 18.  This was one of the coldest morning hikes of the year, in spite of the date on the calendar.  We parked in the Meadowvale Conservation Area parking lot where the Second Line dead ends south of the new Derry Road.  We crossed under the bridge and walked north where the Meadowvale mill pond once connected with the river.

When John Beatty arrived in 1819 he brought the first settlers to the area.  He built mills along the Credit River and founded Meadowvale.  In 1831 Beatty sold his mills to James Crawford who opened saw and carding mills to compete with John Simpson who operated mills on lot 10 south of  Derry Road.  By 1836 Meadowvale had reached village status.  In 1844 Francis Silverthorne took over from Crawford and greatly expanded the mill complex building a saw mill.  In 1845 he added a large grist mill.  When it burned in 1853 he got backing from the Bank of Upper Canada and rebuilt.  During the Crimean War the price of flour had jumped from $1.50 per barrel to $3.00.  Silverthorne stockpiled grain in an effort to take advantage but when the war ended in 1860 the price fell to $1.00 per barrel.  When the Bank of Upper Canada foreclosed on his loan, William Gooderham, who was in charge of the bank, bought the property.  Gooderham and Worts had also purchased Alpha Mills, north of Streetsville, the same year.  Silverthorne retired to the family mansion, Cherry Hill.

After the Gooderhams the mill was owned by the Wheelers until 1895 when it was sold to Henry Brown.  Henry restored the mill and returned it to full production.  In 1906 he set about developing Meadowvale into a tourist attraction.  The first step was to increase the size of the mill pond and create what came to be known as Willow Lake.  He built a larger dam further north on the Credit to allow more water to be retained.  By following the western wall of the former Willow Lake we were able to locate the remnants of this dam.  Concrete remains can be found on both sides of the Credit River.


Water is held in the western most parts of the old Willow Lake as we made our way along the berm toward the old mill.  The land along the western side of the old lake has been scooped out to create a retaining wall for the mill pond.



After publishing this post I came across the following picture in the heritage assessment of 2014.  It shows an aerial view of Meadowvale with the old mill pond drawn in with dark blue and previous courses of the river in light blue.  Derry Road runs across the lower right corner and second line across the upper right corner.  Silerthorne’s grist mill is sketched in where the mill pond approaches Derry Road then follows along it in dark blue as the tail race.  His saw mill is drawn in a little above there where an old tail race returns to the river.


As you approach old Derry Road concrete structures from the mill come into view.


The mill stretched over both sides of the millway with the water wheel, and later the turbine, generating power to turn the grinding wheels to produce flour.


The foundations on the west side of the millrace are pictured below.  Notice the stonework in the middle at ground level that marks a former water tunnel through the wall.


This picture shows the main foundations for the water wheel.  Notice the bridge in the background where the tail race leads out along Willow Lane on it’s way back to the Credit River.


The mill changed hands several times until it went out of production in 1950.  The Emersons owned the mill at the time and kept it for storage.  Fire is a common fate for grist mills and the community became concerned about its safety.  The wood was 100 years old, dry and full of a century of flour dust.  When Luther Emmerson was told he had to demolish it he did so himself.  Smashing it up in a fury and leaving the pieces where they fell.  The wood was carried away and the rest settled and was filled in.  They say the old turbines are still buried in the basement.

The mill stone has been preserved on the site of the Silverthorne Mill.  Mill stones come in pairs. The lower stone is stationary and is called the bedstone.  The upper stone, or runner, spins and does the actual grinding.  The grooves serve to channel the flour to the outside of the stones for collection.  The grain is fed through the eye in the centre of the runner stone to be ground between them.  Both upper and lower stones are preserved here.


Willow Lane used to be known as Water Street and is home to some of the oldest houses in the village.  The house at 1125 Willow Lane is the oldest remaining building in town having been constructed in 1825 by John Beatty.  It later belonged to Crawford, Silverthorne and Gooderham as it seems to have changed hands with the ownership of the mills.


By 1917 Guelph was linked to Toronto via the Toronto Suburban Railway line.  It ran from Lambton to Guelph, passing through Meadowvale.  The line ran from 1917 until it was shut down in 1931 when travel between Guelph and Toronto had switched to bus and car on highway 7.  The tail race from Silverthorne’s mill ran between Derry road and Willow Lane. The foundations of the old suburban railway line remain but are badly crumbling.


The picture below shows the railway bridge over the tail race in 1915.  The past 100 years have taken their toll on the bridge.  The route of the train is even less easily distinguished as a flood control pond has been built on the old right of way south of Derry road.

Radial Railway Bridge, Meadowvale, c1915

Walking along the river back to the car you could hear the rustle of slush in the river as it rubbed along the river bank.  We weren’t the only ones hiking up the Credit River.



By 1856 the mill was a major employer in the village and Silverthorne built cottages for his mill workers at 7077 and 7079 Pond Street.


Charles Horace “Holly” Gooderham came to Meadowvale to run the mills on behalf of his father William Gooderham of Gooderham and Worts in Toronto.  In 1870 he commissioned a 21 room mansion that cost him $30,000.  The Gooderhams ran the mills, a cooperage and the general store in town.  When William Gooderham died in 1881 Holly left for Toronto and the estate was sold.  During the 1920’s it belonged to Samuel Curry whose brother, Walter, was a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Ontario from 1919-1923.  The house received several modifications over the years, including the oversized front portico and the white siding in the late 1970’s.


Meadowvale was the first community to be honoured with the designation “Heritage Conservation District“.  The original community survives, largely intact, complete with it’s narrow streets designed for horse and carriage.  There are many historic buildings in town which will form the basis of a companion post.