It’s known by many names, depending where you live, but one thing is certain, Hurontario St. plays an important role in the lives of Peel Region residents.
But its significance is not only defined by the present, the history of the thoroughfare parallels the growth of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. Indeed, it has been a major contributor to that growth and will continue to be so.
Kyle Neill, a senior archivist with Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, says the road has been the backbone of the area since it was first carved out of the forest. Neill will discuss the story of Hurontario St. at an upcoming meeting of the Mississauga South Historical Society.
Although not on the original land survey of the area (when it was called Toronto Township) of 1806, the road first makes an appearance in 1819 when it can be seen on maps.
Initially it was used to define specific land use areas, but soon the road was recognized as a necessary north-south route for those who lived in the area.
“Essentially it was needed by farmers to get their grain down to Port Credit where it could be shipped off,” explains Neill. “It led to Port Credit being quite a boomtown for a while.”
By 1834 the road was cut through to most of Peel County, although the path was crude for even that period as planks or mud was used to guide the way.
As the route became essential, communities sprang up around it and at times it was even a toll road, but all the while its significance grew.
Neill says the added importance of the road is that it led to others, such as Dundas St. and Lakeshore Rd., as well as to train stations, which could then take travellers to Toronto or even the United States. He says the significance of these two two roads should not be downplayed.
“Dundas and Lakeshore are old than Hurontario but together they formed an important transportation network,” he says. “It allowed people to travel north-south and east-west.”
By the 1920s Hurontario St. had become part of the official highway system earning the name Highway 10 which is still used today, particularly from Caledon on north. In Brampton, it is referred to as Main St.
Now, the road stretches more than 136 kms from Port Credit to Owen Sound with the name deriving from the two lakes it touches – Huron and Ontario.
But even on that point there had been some discussion.
“Some wanted to name it after Timonty Street, the founder of Streetsville,” says Neill. “But they ultimately figured that Street Rd. or Street St. just wouldn’t work.”
At the upcoming meeting, Neill will touch on the various highlights of the route, but also some of the unique stories that he found while researching the topic.
He points out that although new plans for light rapid transit (LRT) are anticipated to become a reality for Hurontario, similar plans were also floated in the 1970s.
His favourite story involves how a group of militia from Derry West left their barracks and went down Hurontario St. on their way to Niagara to fend of American troops involved with the Fenian Raids to invade our country in 1866.
A recent exhibition of the visual history of Hurontario St. just in Brampton, but Neill hopes Heritage Mississauga will be able to host the a similar display next year.
The meeting of the South Peel Historical Society takes place Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Lorne Park Library. There is no charge and the meeting is open to the public.
(Photo: An early signpost along Hurontario St. points the way to other destinations along the route)