Only a mere two kilometres north of Meadowvale, in Brampton, is another “lost” village, Churchville. Both communities share a lot in common: both were established as mill towns on the Credit River, both were served by the Credit Valley Railway when it arrived in the 1870s and the Toronto Suburban Railway, which ran from 1917 to 1931. Both are removed from major roadways, perhaps helping their survival.
In “Toronto’s Lost Villages” by Ron Brown, published in 1997 and one of the inspirations for this series, the author lamented that Churchville was about to be inundated by suburban development. Luckily, because of strengthened historical interest, and the proximity of floodplains that restrict new development, it remains relatively intact and somewhat interesting.
Churchville was the most northerly settlement in Toronto Township (which in 1968 became the Town of Mississauga) and is somewhat older than Meadowvale, established in 1815. At its peak, Churchville had several stores, a church, a hotel, mills and other local services. An ambitious network of streets was laid out, some of which do not exist today, but still appear on some maps (such as the Google Map linked above). After a a period of growth, the population level stagnated after nearby Brampton grew larger with the 1856 arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway and designated as the county seat. Many of the stores left, the mill was lost to time, and fire destroyed at least one of the churches.
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, built 1856, the last surviving religious structure.
It wasn’t until the 1960s, when some exurban development grew around the fringes of the villages, that the population expanded again. In 1974, Churchville became part of the City of Brampton, and separated from Meadowvale from a new “Greenbelt” (which eventually became little more than a utility and highway corridor). But Brampton’s sprawl did not reach Churchville, deep in the Credit Valley, until the last decade. Happily, though, as with Meadowvale, residential development now completely surrounds the historic core, yet it is set back enough as to now fully overwhelm it.
Amongst the only remaining services left are a small Wesleyan chapel, a large, well-maintained cemetery, and one of two remaining volunteer fire stations in Brampton. A new large station on Mississauga Road is scheduled to open late this year, staffed by a professional crew, which will replace this station, and the one in nearby Huttonville.
Interestingly, Brampton has chosen to preserve two local one-lane bridges. A steel truss in the centre of Churchville is in excellent condition, and is unlikely to be replaced as traffic levels remain low. North of Steeles, towards Eldorado Park (an early electric park run by the Toronto Suburban) an elegant concrete arch bridge was recently restored.