Rochelle Burns, PhD, social historian

“Are you more afraid of how things change, or how they stay the same,” went the lyrics to a 1970s Peter, Paul and Mary hit song.

Hard one to answer, for anyone.  And that has included the good people of Brampton hanging onto nostalgic feelings of what was, while embracing newness.

Prior to the 1800s, all real business and, probably gossip, took place at taverns on what would become the centre of town. By 1834, John Elliott laid out the area in lots for sale, called the area ‘Brampton’, which name was soon adopted by others.

From being known as gossip in the taverns, Brampton moved onward to a new title, the ‘Flowertown of Canada’ when, in 1860, Edward Dale established a flower nursery in town. This was followed by spotlights on strawberries and then apples.

Then came what would be the biggest change of all. Brampton grew in numbers. At an astronomical rate. It also grew in multicultural diversity.

The new, increased population led to another change. With the growing multicultural population, the Peel Board of Education first introduced evening classes in ESL (English as a Second Language). The demand was great.

Added to that were night classes in 23 other languages. Recent newcomers who were parents and grandparents wanted their children to learn about their ancestral heritage and the language of their forbears.

Now Brampton had both — ‘staying the same’ and ‘change’.

The groundedness of what was, combined with the ever-changing freshness of the community is seen during this holiday season, and all the holidays celebrated in this vastly rich mosaic of so many of the world’s cultures.

Celebrating ‘staying the same’ within one’s group, and embracing ‘change’ outside one’s group. That’s today’s Brampton.


Photo: Historic plaque of a brief history of Brampton’s beginnings: Photo credit: Alan Brown



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