In one of the newest parts of Brampton is one of several juxtapositions that occur when Toronto’s urban sprawl takes over small villages and hamlets, where traces of a once proud village have been consumed by Toronto’s rapid growth. There are several examples that come to mind — at Finch and Don Mills in North York, at Derry and Dixie in Mississauga, and at Ninth Line and 14th Avenue in Markham. Only where a village was large enough, have these villages survived — Streetsville and Unionville remain charming parts of much larger suburbs.
At The Gore Road and Ebenezer Road at the far eastern end of Brampton several subdivisions have engulfed the hamlet of Ebenezer, in what was once a quiet agricultural township called Toronto Gore. In 1974, that oddly named little township was amalgamated into Brampton, but it wasn’t until the past few years has it been completely been swallowed. This area though is cut off from the rest of Brampton by farms, light industry, a conservation area and the massive CN intermodal yards. The only Brampton Transit bus route here leads not to the rest of that city, but to Humber College in Etobicoke.
Right at the corner of these two streets are two survivors of the recent past — an old Methodist Church and cemetery, and a community hall on the opposite corner. While it looks unlikely that the 1858 church remains in its intended use (though it is fortunately well-maintained), the community hall, built to serve the farmfolk of Toronto Gore Township, is now maintained by the successor City of Brampton. It is also well kept, though unfortunately hidden on one side by a wooden fence. When I was there, a South Asian senior’s group had just wrapped up their social meeting. It was pleasant to see the old hall still used for its intended purpose.
On another corner was a brand new shopping plaza. The brick pattern of the plaza buildings seemed to mimic the old farm houses and community buildings of the late 1800s that the new subdivisions are replacing. Nearly every business had signage in an Indic script (such as Urdu, Hindi or Punjabi).
Visible just about anywhere in these new subdivisions is the Hindu Sabha Temple, an elaborate building of glass and granite, towering over the neighbourhood like the spires of Catholic and Anglican churches. It was remarkable to find such a large and interesting building in such a new suburb, still yet to be established.
More change is coming to Ebenezer as the urban frontier advances. There are few clues that this was all farmland just a few years ago, but an old barn sits out a fallowed field, awaiting the inevitable.