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Britannia Farm - Development Proposal
This Farm is the Last of its Kind

November 15th 2009

The future of an intact Britannia Farm remains cloudy, and ultimately unlikely. The Britannia Farm is last relatively intact 200-acre farm within the limits of the City of Mississauga. Located northwest of Bristol Road and Hurontario Street, and stretching from Hurontario Street to McLachlan Road. Undeniably, the property is prime real estate within our city. The Peel District School Board has reached a tentative agreement to lease a portion of the property for development for tenure of 99 years. The agreement calls for the relocation and restoration of the farmhouse, Gardner-Dunton House and Conover Barn, and educational programs on the property being expanded. The development would start south of the Old Britannia Schoolhouse, run southward along the Hurontario Street corridor, and wrap around to Bristol Road. Approximately 85% of the property will remain undeveloped.

In the heritage community, at large, the announcement has been met with disappointment, as it was hoped that future planning for the farm would work with its existing contextual fabric. Public visions for the property have ranged from developing a “historic building preservation area”, a public central park, and even revert to a working farm, amongst many other ideas over the years.

The farm lot was deeded to the children of Peel County by the Crown, under King William IV, in 1833, for the support and maintenance of a school and for the advancement of education in Toronto Township. The rent from this School Reserve was used over the years to support the local school section and education throughout Peel County. Over the years the trusteeship of the farm property passed to the Peel District School Board.

Part of the farm property had been severed in the past for the old Britannia Schoolhouse and for the building of the Peel Board of Educations offices. In addition the existing 1852 one-room Britannia Schoolhouse, the property boasts several other heritage landmarks and features: the original farmhouse on the property, built circa 1865, was built in a traditional storey-and-a-half style; the circa 1832 Gardner-Dunton House, a large Georgian-style dwelling, was relocated to the property in 1990; the Conover Barn, relocated to the property from the Clarkson area and in place of the original barn on the property; the sugar bush, the last of its kind in Mississauga; and the remnant right-of-way of the long defunct radial railway – one of the last places in Mississauga where this rail route is still evident. Also, even though the individual structures and landscape features are independently significant, the contextual setting of the entire property is also a significant heritage asset to the City of Mississauga – truly the last of its kind in our city.

According to Board Chair Janet McDougald, the agreement allows the development company to apply for rezoning of the property in anticipation of building 850,000 sq. ft. of office space on 31.67 acres of the farm property. According to McDougald, the Board desired “to preserve this beautiful jewel in the middle of the City but we require long-term stable funding so students can better use it” and “it’s a wonderful facility but it’s underused for the value it could be producing for students.” The plan to build offices is just the latest in a long line of proposed projects for the farm, since active farming came to a close in the 1990s. “It all comes down to money, ultimately,” McDougald stated. “We’ve tried numerous things for the farm but there’s nothing in the (educational) funding formula that really covers it.”

Time will tell what the future holds for the Britannia Farm. Needless to say, all eyes will be upon the property. Regardless, it does not appear that the Britannia Farm will remain intact in the coming years.

Special thanks to John Stewart and the Mississauga News for the article: “Board to add eight high-rise offices to farm” by John Stewart, published on April 10th, 2008. www.mississauganews.com/article/12996

Britannia Farm: An Uncertain Future Update

The future of an intact Britannia Farm remains uncertain. Supporters who wished to see the 200-acre farm, which was deeded to the children of Peel County in 1833, remain intact were disappointed with the decision by the Provincial Government to allow the Peel District School Board to develop and lease 32 acres of the property for 99 years. The signing of the lease agreement is dependent upon the developer’s (Osmington) building plan meeting municipal standards. As part of the lease agreement, Osmington will seek to relocate three heritage buildings to elsewhere on the property, and as such they will have to make an application to do so through the City of Mississauga’s Heritage Advisory Committee.

Mississauga Train Derailment
Thirtieth Anniversary

November 10th 2009

Mississauga Heritage remembers the event that defined the .....

Cick here to see the Special Interest Page with all of the details about this event

 

Haunted Mississauga 2009
An Election 175 Years in the Making

October 23rd 2009

Haunted Mississauga 2009: Spirits of the Scotch Burying Ground
When: Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Where: Streetsville Memorial / Pioneer Cemetery

This year our story is set in October of 1831. The Home District election is set for January 2nd, 1832. William Lyon Mackenzie, the Reform leader, has just been ousted from the Legislative Council, and there is much unrest leading into the January election. Three Streetsville locals are running for office to challenge Mackenzie in the upcoming January election. They are Timothy Street as a Conservative, Henry Rutledge as an Orangeman and Free Thinker, and John Embleton for Reform. All three men are well respected Streetsville citizens. (In actuality, Timothy Street was chosen to run against Mackenzie in the 1832 election – Street lost soundly 119-1. We do not know for certain whom Street ran against in the by-election of 1831.)

Preliminary Character & Actor List

Timothy Street (1778-1848)
Conservative Richard Collins
Henry Rutledge (1800-1875)
Orange Order Councillor George Carlson
Margaret Glendinning (1775-1856) Conservative Sandra Lindsay
Mary Hyde (1776-1857)    Reform Denise Mahoney
Isaac Askin (1807-1883)
Conservative Bryan Ho
Jane (Scott) Askin (1806-1878) Conservative
Nicole Mair
Rebecca (Weylie) Steen (1774-1867) Orange Order Mavis Wilson
Esther (Beatty) Leslie (1783-1867) Reform Arlene Manning
Helen (Ker) Beaty (1792-1868) Reform Rose Langley
Thomas Sibbald Sr. (1774-1858)
Reform
Scott Mair
Henry Cole (1792-1849)
Orange Order
Greg Carraro
John Embleton (1790-1855)
Reform Theatre Unlimited Actor
Dr. John Crumbie (1794-1877) Orange Order
Theatre Unlimited Actor
Jannet Douglass (1771-1842)
Reform Theatre Unlimited Actor
                                                       
Tour Guides
Vanessa Gouveia, Brent Gaspar, Andrea Kennedy, Meaghan FitzGibbon & Matthew Wilkinson


The Spirits Will Return to Cast Their Ballots Again
By Richard Collins- reprinted from “The Booster”

   
When all the votes were tallied and the members of the new session of the Legislative Assembly were decided, the voters climbed aboard their buggies and returned home from the polling stations, satisfied that they had done their bit for democracy for the next four years.

This was the scene across Upper Canada on a cool October day in 1830.

Except in the East Riding of County York. The voters of Toronto Township that day elected a reform candidate by the name of William Lyon Mackenzie. His behavior in the Assembly over the next two years forced the voters of York (there was no Peel County yet) into a premature election, two years before they had planned, two years before they had hoped, and two years before the rest of the colony.

Mackenzie was an industrious member of the Assembly – fiercely loyal to the farmers who elected him and passionate about making government responsible to the will of the masses.But Mackenzie was also opinionated, quite vocal about these opinions, and careless about whom he directed these opinions toward.

Reformers ended up as a minority in the 1830 election and after two years of  Mackenzie’s constant accusations – often wild, but just as often incisive – the conservative-dominated Assembly expelled him from the House.

With York’s East Riding seat now vacant, a by-election was required. Mackenzie planned to run again for the seat, but this time victory wasn’t going to be easy. This time his candidacy was going to be challenged.

Mackenzie had the support of many common people in Mississauga. He was a commoner himself – unsuited by heredity, and in manners, to the lifestyle of the conservative Family Compact. He was willing to face jail time, or even death, to fight for the rights of the common folk.

But amongst the common farmers of Mississauga, there were many who didn’t care for the manner in which Mackenzie conducted himself in office. He may have been a champion of democracy, but he was a disgrace to the people he represented.

And there were still others, mostly of pride and prejudice, who not only hated Mackenzie, they detested the very idea of democracy that he stood for. Families of privilege felt privileged to live under the benevolent monarchy of William IV.

Political friction and confusion beset Mississauga as the by-election of 1832 approached and this Friday, October 23 the dearly departed of Streetsville Memorial Cemetery will arise to cast their votes again. It’s the 8th Annual “Haunted Mississauga”, hosted by Heritage Mississauga, and you’re invited to step back in time to be part of an election that changed Upper Canada.

It’s 1831 Again
   
To set the mood for Friday’s event, let’s go back to the days following Mackenzie’s expulsion from the Assembly on December 11, 1831. Three candidates from the Streetsville area have gathered to entice the local voters to give them the nod to run for the vacant seat in the election which is to follow on January 2, 1832.

John Embleton is hoping to win your vote as Mackenzie’s less confrontational vote for Reform in the Assembly. Embleton is a newcomer to Streetsville, having just arrived last year, but in that time he has opened a general store on Queen Street. He’s a strong supporter of political reform which would transfer power from the conservative upper class to the middle class businessmen, like himself.

Embleton helped build a new mill recently on the Credit River for Timothy Street. It you live in Streetsville you should be familiar with this man. They named the village after him. Street is challenging Embleton for the open seat in County York. An early settler in these parts, Street is uneasy about the anti-monarchy sentiment of the reform movement. Street will campaign for the status quo in a Conservative-dominated Assembly.

And finally we have Henry Rutledge. He didn’t serve a day in the Royal Navy but likes to call himself “Commodore” anyway. That’s probably because he commands a bunch of hotheads who call themselves the Town Line Blazers. Reformers beware. Rutledge is unflinchingly loyal to the Crown and he and his gang of Orangemen are not above using force to defend a king who is thousands of miles (not kilometers – remember, it’s 1831) away.

So who will win the candidacy to run on January 2? Will Street appeal to the patriotic hearts of his fellow townspeople? Will Rutledge bully his way in? Or will Embelton push the radical Mackenzie out of the picture by running as Reform’s calm voice of reason?

Political Questions in 1831/1832
Excessive taxation
Existing Hierarchical Society vs. Responsible Government
Moderate Reform vs. Established Conservative Values
Should there be greater independence from Britain
Develop a Harbour at the mouth of the Credit River
Family Compact: Too Much Control?
Electoral Reform: Public Vote vs. Secret Ballot
Alcohol abuse & tavern licenses

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© Mississauga Heritage 2009