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, on a still-rural Embleton Road
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.
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.