Almost one year ago, we wrote about the history of Port Credit. It was a fascinating walk through history that took us to the 1700’s, when the namesake Mississauga Ojibwe natives met with English traders and the first semblance of a society began to form. Of course, it was hundreds of years before Port Credit took a kind of form we’d recognise today, and you might be surprised to know that it’s actually Clarkson that takes the name of oldest village in the city.
In fact, the origins of Clarkson can be traced to New York native, Warren Clarkson. Then a fifteen year-old, Clarkson moved to Canada with his brother to work for a friend who’d bought some land along Lake Ontario. Warren loved the area and saved enough money to buy his own land and build a home. Now a married man with a family, Warren purchased more and more land along a stagecoach trail, and opened the first store on the road. A few years later the local council named the trail Clarkson Road, and it was just five years later that the Great Western Railway arrived.
As the years passed, Warren opened a post office in the store and his son William became postmaster, and the town blossomed with a school, church, inn, railway station, and dozens of homes. In 1856 Captain Edward Sutherland moved to the area, purchased the local inn, and he is said to have brought strawberry and rasperberry farming to the area. Today Clarkson is affectionately known as the strawberry capital of Ontario because of Sutherlands efforts. And interestingly, one of Sutherlands children married into the Harris family that lived at the historic Benares House.
Clarkson continued to prosper, albeit slowly, through the late 1800’s into the mid 1900’s. In 1956 the Park Royal Community Association (PRCA) was founded, and was the first such division in Mississauga to introduce underground phone lines and hydro, as well as the first communty centre. The organisation is still around today and serves to improve the community.
It was in 1968 that Clarkson became an official part of the township of Mississauga. As some of you might not know, the original Mississauga township did not include Port Credit or Streetsville, so Clarkson was really the crown jewel as it sat alongside Cooksville, Erindale, Dixie, and more.
Through the years, Clarkson has become a favourite settling point for newcomers to Mississauga. The area’s proximity to the lakefront, bus and train station access, and melding of city and suburban life makes it one of the most attractive parts of the city that is well worth visiting again to really appreciate. If you’d like to do just that, check out the excellent tour by Heritage Mississauga.
Today, Clarkson is one of Mississauga’s most prominent towns with dozens of shops, apartment buildings, schools, banks, and features one of the busiest intersections, and some of the best restaurants in the city. The town continues to develop with beautiful new townhouses and projects that seek to modernise it even further, but that doesn’t mean Clarkson has forgotten its history.
In fact, Clarkson is one of the best places in Mississauga for preserving its history and celebrating it. Whether it’s Benares House, the Bradley Museum, or just little touchstones around the town, it’s impossible to navigate Clarkson without recognising the storied history that helped shape Mississauga into what it is today.