The recorded history of Port Credit dates back only as far as the 1700’s, but it’s a fascinating one nonetheless. It’s one that, unlike most other settlements across the world, was not forged by blood and destruction, but rather peacefully.
And it all began back in the early 18th century, when Mississauga Ojibwe band would meet with white traders along the river to exchange goods. By 1720, a trading post had been established, where products could be exchanged for credit, hence the town name.
It wasn’t until 1798 however that a permanent building was established in the town, and it was The Government Inn. The Inn was just that, a way station built by the British for those coming by land or lake. The Inn stood for less than one hundred years before being destroyed by a fire.
We mentioned that Port Credit was not formed by bloodshed, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some conflict. The Mississauga natives conceded much of the land to the British and, following the War of 1812, there wasn’t very many of the tribe left. The Mississauga wanted to retain a settlement at the mouth of the Credit River but were not allowed to do so. For a few years the natives and British used the town together, but eventually the Mississauga were paid to leave the area and move to Six Nations. Thus the Mississauga left Mississauga.
Throughout the mid to late 1800’s, the town began to grow substantially. Houses were erected at a rapid pace, business sprouted up, and forests were levelled to make way for more living space. The iconic lighthouse was built in 1882, although it only survived 54 years before burning down.
Businesses like the St. Lawrence Starch Works and Port Credit Brick Yard opened up and provided lots of jobs to the booming area. By 1900 the town had a few hundred people living there, but it was far from the tourist destination that we know it as today.
That changed in 1915 when the Lakeshore Highway was built, and residents from Toronto began coming to Port Credit to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. After the brick yard shut down, it was replaced by a Texaco oil refinery, furthering Port Credit’s status as an industrial area. Over the course of the next few decades the town continued to grow, the lighthouse was burnt and rebuilt, a movie theatre was constructed, the Port Credit Arena was built, and the town began to take the shape we recognise today.
That said, it wasn’t actually until 1961 that Port Credit finally attained the status of township, though it declined to amalgamate into part of a larger city in 1968. Mississauga, as a city, was formed in 1968 with various area’s coming together, however both Port Credit and Streetsville would not join the fray. Of course, Streetsville buckled first, and Port Credit followed suit in 1975.
The next few decades saw some major changes as the Go Station was built, Texaco shuttered its doors, restaurants began popping up all over, the Starch Works was demolished, and Port Credit generally moved from an industrial area to a residential one. Gone were the smokestacks and the loudness, and in came families and local businesses.
Throughout the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, Port Credit became the town we know today. A beautiful area with a diverse culture, incredible food, live entertainment, dozens of apartment buildings, and a go-to spot for people across the GTA.
All of Port Credit’s iconic locations and festivals, from the lighthouse to the Waterfront Festival, the marina to the Southside Shuffle, they all have one foot steeped in the history of the area. Port Credit’s lineage is a rather uneventful one in the grand scheme of things, but it led us to where we are today, and we think that’s pretty neat.
Photos courtesy of Heritage Mississauga