The story of the Credit Mission actually began with Peter Jones who was born in 1802 to a Welsh father, Augustus Jones and a Mississauga mother, Tuhbenahneequay. He spent his early childhood with his mother but his teenage years were spent with his father; first in Stoney Creek and later, near the Grand River. During the time spent with his father, Peter Jones learned English, farming techniques and was baptised Christian. Peter Jones eventually accepted Methodism and became an ordained Methodist Minister in October 1833. In Peter Jones, the Mississauga gained an important spokesperson for their dealings with the government.
Peter Jones returned to the Credit River in 1824 to tell his people, the Mississauga Nation about his acceptance of Christianity and encourage them to return to the Grand River with him. By mid-June 1825, fifty Mississauga had converted. Jones also started to teach them farming methods. He wanted the Mississauga to be self-supporting and independent.
On July 13, 1825, Peter Jones met the Honourable Dr. Strachan, who according to Jones suggested that “it would be best for us to settle on the Credit and erect a village, saying he thought the Government would assist us, and wished us to consult about the matter” In late 1825, Lieutenant Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland agreed to build a village consisting of twenty houses near the Credit River for Peter Jones and the Mississauga converts. In April 1826, Peter Jones permanently left the Grand River for the Credit River along with the other converted Mississauga, now numbering about 107.
With the assistance of the Methodist Missionary Society, they began to build a school and chapel. John Jones, Peter’s brother, became the school teacher. By the fall of 1826, the Mississauga moved into their twenty new homes at the Credit River. The site of the village was on Mississauga Road, and became known as the Credit Mission.
The Mississauga continued to expand the village, building twenty-four or twenty-five more houses, and eight or nine barns. They had constructed a hospital with Dr. Joseph Adamson providing medical services. Jones wrote several letters to the Government asking for money from their funds to be provided to Dr. Joseph Adamson for his medical services on the Reserve. The village also had two public stores, two saw mills, one blacksmith’s shop, and one carpenter’s shop. The side-walks in the Credit Mission had even been boarded. There is also considerable evidence to suggest that there was a cemetery at the Credit Mission. The Mississauga were Christians when this cemetery would have been in use, therefore, they would have been buried in a Christian method. Peter Jones’ journals, letters to his wife, and the letters to the Indian Department all mention numerous deaths at the Credit Mission.
In 1838, Peter’s wife, Eliza Jones, penned a description of the village. She provides insight as to the location of various buildings and evidence that there was a cemetery at the Credit Mission:
“This little village…is situated on the high and healthy banks of a fine river, whose beautiful flowing waters, well supplied with fish…This village consists of about forty houses; some of these are called log, others frame; each surrounded by half an acre of land, in which the Indians plant every year either potatoes, peas, or Indian corn. In the centre stands, on one side the chapel and school-house, on the other the Mission-house; near which is reserved a lovely spot just on the brow of a sloping bank, sacred to the memory of the dead.”
For more than a decade the village at the Credit Mission thrived. Every family at the Credit Mission had half an acre around their house to garden. In addition to the village site, the Mississauga also had use of land consisting of one-mile on each side of the Credit River; from the modern-day Queensway, to the shore of Lake Ontario. This land was known as the Credit Indian Reserve. From this land each family received fifty acres to farm where they raised vegetables, grain, hay, potatoes and other roots vegetables, and apples. They also raised pork and beef. By the late 1830s, the Mississauga Nation at the Credit had cultivated nearly 900 acres of a 3,000 acre reserve.
The Mississauga were also two-thirds shareholders in the Credit Harbour Company. As the majority shareholders, the Mississauga had the port at the mouth of the Credit River constructed. It also appears they were responsible for having the town plot laid out for Port Credit.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Edgerton Ryerson, Reverend Peter Jones, and his brother John, the Methodist faith became established in the village, regardless of government efforts to have the Mississauga band adopt the Anglican faith. Despite many misgivings, the Mississauga soon proved that the “experiment” of creating an Indian Village was a success. They prospered, and early travellers’ accounts illustrate the respect and favourable acknowledgement expressed in regards to what the Mississauga were accomplishing on their reserve:
“It is gratifying to perceive, that instead of the drunken and savage brawls, happiness and peace have sprung among them, good order, sobriety, and cleanliness in house and person. Their demeanor is moral, their attendance at divine worship regular, and their observance of the church service, grave and attentive.”
In 1844, Benjamin Slight, a Missionary at the Credit Mission in the 1830s, wrote:
“They enjoy domestic comforts, and the blessings of social and civilised life. To contemplate the poor wandering Indian, without home, house, (expecting the wretched wiggewaum [sic]… without means of subsistence… and now to see the contract; the Indian, with his wife and family, in a comfortable cottage, with decent furniture and comfortable provisions in his cellar, barn, & c., must afford conviction to every unprejudiced, sound mind.”
The Credit Mission prospered for more than a decade, however, time was against the Mississauga and their village. As early as 1840, the Mississauga decided to leave the Credit River because of white encroachment and also because they could not secure title to the land on which they were living. Another reason was that the natural resources at the Credit River had been exhausted. The Mississauga had cut down the trees around their village. Non-aboriginal trespassers from the villages around the Credit Indian Reserve also chopped down trees on the Reserve. In addition, the salmon run had almost been completely depleted.
Muncey Town was their first choice but lack of Government support for the move forced them to abandon this plan. Several members of the Mississauga Nation from the Credit River, however, did move to that area. In July 1845, a new location had been decided upon. The Ojibwa, living at the Saugeen River near Owen Sound, had invited others to settle in their territory. Early in 1847, the Mississauga at the Credit River received some troubling news about their new location; the land was rocky and not suitable for settlement.
Unfortunately, they were out of time; they had already placed their land “in the hands of the government to be sold.” John Stoughton Dennis had also already surveyed the land. It was at this point, that the Iroquois Six Nations Confederacy, the Haundenosaunee, heard about their predicament. They offered the Mississauga 4800 acres of land on their reserve on the Grand River. The Six Nations remembered “that when their fathers came down from the Mohawk River” the Mississauga had given them “the Tract they now owned.” On April 7, 1847, they accepted the Six Nations’ offer.
Even before the Mississauga officially accepted the Six Nations’ offer, the Government was preparing to sell the lands around the Credit River. A notice appeared advertising an auction of the “Mississaugas of the Credit land at Port Credit” including the “Mill Block, Park and Town Lots,” to take place Tuesday April 27, 1847. The auction notice stated that the “Indian Lands for sale under the direction of the Indian department.” J.S. Dennis, who surveyed the land in 1846, established the prices.
In 1847, 266 people left the Credit River for the Six Nations Reserve. This did not represent all the Mississauga who lived at the Credit. When the 1851 census for Peel County was taken, eleven “Indians” were still living in the southern portion of Toronto Township and more continued to leave after 1847.
What happened to the small village along the Credit River? As the Mississauga left the village in 1847, some of the small cabins were used as early shelters by European immigrants. Among them was the Irish Catholic Dinan family, who resided in the old village for a number of years. In 1906, the site became the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club.
Today, there is no visible evidence of the village. The last building standing was believed to be the Chief’s house which was demolished sometime in the 1950s. The village was originally located on either side of Mississauga Road. Between 1954 and 1966, however, the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club had Mississauga Road re-routed. Today, any remnants of the village would be entirely within the Golf Club’s property. Although there is no evidence above the surface, there is still the question of whether a cemetery remains.
Many Christianized family surnames were associated with the Mississauga First Nation living at the Credit Mission. Some of those names include: Ajetance, Beaver, Brant, Cameron, David, Fawns, Finger, Harris, Halfaday, Herkimer, Hobkins, Keshego, Jackson, Johns, Johnson, Jones, King, Laform (Laforme), McCollum, McDittougal, Mike, Ordge, Peter, Sawyer, Secord, Smith, Sterling, Summerfield, Tobeco, Towah, Wabanibe, Wahbahaosa, Wesley, Wilson, and Young, amongst other surnames. Many of these family names continue to thrive among their descendants at New Credit.