Lost Villages: Huttonville

McMurchy Woolen Mill

Nestled in the Credit Valley is the hamlet of Huttonville, at the corner of Mississauga Road and Queen Street/Embleton Road in the City of Brampton. Until just a few years ago, it retained a splendid isolation from the suburban frontier, several kilometres west of urbanized Brampton and north of the sprawling business parks in northwest Mississauga. As such, Huttonville maintained its historic character until quite recently, despite the addition of a 1970s exurban subdivision on its north side.

When I was growing up in Brampton, our family would visit one of the many apple orchards for “pick-your-own” apples, which featured a tractor wagon ride. There were also strawberry and raspberry fields that also had popular “pick-your-own” seasons.

But during the last five years, residential and industrial sprawl crept ever closer to the historic community, to the point that Mississauga Road and Queen Streets are now both being widened, and the remaining farms nearby have those telltale white development notice signs posted in front. Huttonville will likely retain some of its historic character, but will be lost in a sea of tract houses and big box shopping.

Huttonville was first settled in the 1820s, and was known as such names as  “the Wolf’s Den“, “Bully Hollow” and Brown’s Mills, after the last name of the founder of a grist mill there.  In 1855, a James Hutton bought the mills and renamed the settlement Hutton’s Mills; the establishment of a post office decided the permanent name, Huttonville.

Like nearby Churchville, Huttonville had its own volunteer fire station, until it was closed last year when a  fire hall staffed by a professional crew opened nearby, closing both. Huttonville still has a rural elementary school and a church on Embleton Road. Nearby are several nursery greenhouses (the last gasp of Brampton’s once-dominant greenhouse industry) and apple orchards.

Huttonville United Church
Huttonville United Church, on a still-rural Embleton Road 

Proposed houses in an apple orchardThe apple orchards that once dominated this area are disappearing

The most interesting landmark is the former McMurchy Woolen Mill and generating station. The mill is boarded up, yet most of the rooftop signage remains intact. The dam and reservoir that powered the mill was also tapped to provide hydro-electricity to the community and to nearby Brampton, a busy railway and industrial town.

As elsewhere in Toronto’s suburban frontier, the landscape is littered with vacant houses; exurban ranch houses from the 1950s and 1960s, and old Victorian and Edwardian farmhouses. Most of these vacant homes are demolished to make way for new subdivisions and industrial parks, or because they stand in the way of road widening schemes.

Widening Mississauga Road

Two late Victorian farmhouses in the Huttonville area experienced very different fates. The Reid Farmhouse, which sat on Mississauga Road, facing west since 1894, was moved to a new location, facing east on Royal West Drive, a new residential street. The relocation was to make way for a Wal-Mart and Home Depot. The plan is to restore the farmhouse as a private residence, next to new single-family houses on a residential street.

The Beatty farmhouse, built in 1897, was located on Steeles Avenue west of Mississauga Road. Last year, the local heritage board fought for its preservation, as it sat on land designated for industrial uses. The developer offered the house to the city, and secured the perimeter to keep out vandals, squatters and arsonists. But, unfortunately, the house was demolished in December last year, as the city refused to cover the costs of moving and maintaining it.

Like nearby Churchville, Huttonville boasted its own volunteer fire hall, both since replaced by a new professionally-staffed fire station to the south on Mississauga Road.

The Reid Farmhouse

Beatty farmhouseThe Beatty Farmhouse, prior to demolition

Cleve View Farm
Cleve View Farm, on Mississauga Road north of Huttonville . How much longer will it last?

18 comments

  1. I live in Brampton and drove by the building in the first picture a few weeks ago and was taken by the stark contrast of it to the surrounding development. I am planning to head there with my camera one day soon! Thanks for the write-up, interesting read!

  2. Very interesting read. I grew up for the first seven years of my life at the top of the big hill in Huttonville, on Mississauga Rd. My mother, and her grandparents and great grandparents also owned farms all along Mississauga Rd. Her name was Fraser. How sad it is that such an important part of Ontario’s history is demolished in the name of progress. I am glad my grandparents are gone, so they won’t see what has happened to their community.

  3. When I was a boy my father would often describe what the landscape driving into town from our house on the 3rd line looked like when he was my age and I found it impossible to comprehend; that there were once forests where mini-malls lay and fields where sub-divisions now existed. I’m sure my son will feel the same as I did as we repeat this process, and his son after him.

  4. They say home is where the heart is … but it is truly heartbreaking to see what has happened to this formerly thriving farming community. It was once a place that people from “the city” came out to visit, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy the fruits of many farming families labour. My parents ran an 100 acre garden centre, and my Aunt & Uncle ran a 25 acre U-pick apple orchard just up the road, both of which now make up a good portion of Lionhead Golf Course. My great Aunt had an other 100 acre farm across the road from us, now a thriving suburban sprawl of development.
    I can remember riding our horses, or hiking through Eldorado Park and the neighbouring farm fields and copses, always seeming to end at the ice cream store on Embleton Road. As children, we would set out on daily adventures with numerous cousins and friends in tow, with nothing but our imaginations and endless landscapes to entertain us. We would spend hours exploring and playing in the Huttonville area – always finding something new and exciting around every corner. It’s so sad to think that children nowadays will never grow up knowing that kind of pleasure and freedom to play and explore in such a beautiful backyard. It’s also devastating to think that a once thriving farming community like this has been forever erased, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last.

  5. I grew up in huttonville as did my father , grand father and even my great grandfather lived in what we called ” hooterville.” This story would be just a little too long to post on here but i just wanted to say you could’nt ask for a better place to grow up and live … It’ll soon be swallowed up by brampton but it’ll always be in my heart + memories !!!!

  6. Aw, my grandparents owned the Ice Cream Parlour there and I lived there in the back (which was a house). Man I miss it!

  7. WOW—what a great article!We lived across from the school in the little camp there & my kids went to school there!I can’t believe what is happening to that beautiful place.Just how far out of the city do we have to move to get away from these builders that want our land!

  8. We went to Huttonville Public School for grades 7 & 8.  We lived in Norval on Hwy. # 7.  My sisters and I often reminisce about those days and the kids who were in our classroom.

    AnnevanBodegom (Nee Vis)

  9. Thanks for the story – funny it was published the same week as my piece in the Globe and Mail lamenting the loss of the Ferri family farms on Heritage Road to future housing projects. My Dad worked at the woollen mill as a boy and he and his brothers were the owners of those pick-your-own destinations. Three generations of our families attended Huttonville Public School. The United Church witnessed our family baptisms and weddings. 2013 will be the last year for the farms, but Huttonville will continue to live on in our hearts and minds.
    Here’s the link:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/losing-the-farm-when-the-city-eats-up-our-land-and-our-family-history/article6029028/

  10. Thank you for the interesting and personal comments! They really add to my original post above.

    Yes, Al Ferri’s Country Apple Store and pick-your-own farm was one of my happy memories of Brampton. 

  11. This was my first home, the porches are gone the windows and doors boarded. Running up one set of stairs and down the other as kids we had fun. Grandma and Grandpa Reid always welcomed us. We loved the 3 sets of fireplaces, and the wood stove. We used to sneak upstairs to the 3rd floor to look at the long lost treasues. Many happy memories, but sad to see the house as is now.

  12. Wow, my family grew up here we lived right across from huttonville p.s. my grandparents lived on mississauga rd in the house my grandpa built and had an apple orchard there right across from lions golf club. what a difference than just 10 or 15 yrs ago!! Knew this would happen just didn’t think so soon!  

  13. I lived in nearby Springbrook, and went to Huttonville public, where I was bullied (if they could only see me now.). We used to have a kids softball league, and played in the school yard, which at that time 1984-1988, had 2 ball diamonds.  I had some good times there playing baseball, and then going to the Huttonville icecream parlour, and having a “half chocolate, half vanilla soft serve cone.  It’s a shame that all these memories will soon just be that, a memory, because of the over population of the area. 

  14. Very sad!   I grew up and lived in Huttonville up till 2009. Went to school there with my wife, My son still works on a local farm there. I was part of the community and many of the organization that were formed there. Scouting Lions and Church.  I remember fire works in the local park, swimming & fishing near the dam, lots of great times. It’s truly sad to see what happening to it. The growth from Brampton over running the little village.Shame on the politicians for letting this happen.

  15. Went to Churchville PS for 2 years and then Huttonville PS for 6 years. My two best friends (boys) I met in grade 1 and are still my best friends today. Also met my wife at Huttonville PS, my very best friend (35 years!). Did cubs & scouts at the Church (Mr Arthey), swam in the Credit under.the bridge. Played hockey at the school and rode cattle at the Frasers & Laidlaws. Stole berries & apples from the Ferris. All in all a pretty good upbringing. I see the development creeping in as I still go to the ski club up Mississagua Rd. Our farm is houses, what can you do? Really liked Laura’s article, brought tiers to my eyes. Life moves on, all the best.

  16. I too spent much of my life in the Huttonville area. We lived on our farm on 8331 Heritage road across from the Octagon house. We road our bicycles/motorcycles here and there through our fields and orchards and our neighbours as well. We would stay out till the wee hours and never be afraid of harm. Everyone knew everyone and there was never JUST the immediate family members at the table because one or two friends would be part of the family dinner as well. As a matter of fact, I know several of the contributors to this very site above me. You could hitch hike into town (Brampton) back in the early 60’s and not worry to much. It was safer then. My life has come pretty much full circle to the Huttonville area. I began life on our farm (Norvale Farms) my parents Garnet and Glenn Laidlaw, brothers and sister, then went through life’s many jobs and experiences. I spent 23 years as a Brampton Fire Fighter and as a matter of completing this circle, I retired as a fire fighter at the new fire station 212 (on the old Fraser farm on Mississauga Road north of Steeles, merely one field away from where I started my life on the farm. Looking west across the field (which is still a field!) our old house and barns are still there, for now at least. Yes I will miss this rural surrounding. A GREAT article…Thank you D L  

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