Recollections of Past and Present Residents
Marie C. Phillips, April 14, 1987, from Yarker, Ont. R R. # 3, KOK 3N0.
My husband and purchased 3 acres from a Mrs. May who owned a block that extended to the power line until the service road was built. She was being pressed for taxes, so was dividing it. At that time, the QEW was just being started. I remember driving along it while it was still a country road, chasing a rabbit caught in the car's headlights.
When we first started to build, our neighbours were the Be!fords, who owned a large market garden and orchard on one side, and Halls on the other, with Thomas's across the road.
There was nothing built on Parker Drive or Isabella. Major Gordon lived in a red brick house on Gordon Drive, as well as Rubidges in a high stucco bungalow. Parker Drive had just been divided into lots and quite a few people who worked for Beil Telephone bought these and built there. The road was newly constructed.
My husband and I, both professional artists, designed and built our studio-house and lived there from 1937-1978. Harborn Road was such a wild, beautiful place when one turned off Highway 10 with fine trees and many wild flowers. We had a great spread of marsh marigolds and trilliums. There was a great variety of birds, including whip-poor-wills at first. On one day, we counted over fifty species.
Magistrate Gullins owned the land across from us. Other neighbours were Opsohls, Hennings, Rosses, Helstones, Holmes, Bacons, Nichols, Hull, Hare, Corrigans, Symes, PrattS, Griggs, Noyes.
Some notes from the Ross family.
In 1937, Bill and Margaret Ross purchased a lot from from Ada May. It was a snowy, winter day when we first saw the land. It was a densely wooded area, with a trail to the end of Harborn Road (now Harborn Trail) Margaret said that this was the place, after we had looked all around the Toronto area. We heard about the land from Cliff Worthy, who purchased a lot next to us a week after we bought our lot. At that time, they were selling blocks of land. Later they sold smaller lots.
The Rosses were the first to build a home on Parker Drive. Then the Worthy's built their home. The only other house nearby, at that time, was the Hull's small frame house at the junction of Parker Drive and Harborn Road This house still remains in the backyard. They were going to nickname Parker Drive "Sports Arc" as Bill Ross and Cliff Worthy were involved in sports: Bill in rowing and Cliff in wrestling.
We were really living in the country. We at first had to pick up our mail at the Post Office in Copeland's General Store, in Cooksville. Later, we had our mailboxes at the junction of Gordon Drive and Harborn Road, rural delivery, R.R. Cooksville.
We bought vegetables from the Belfords who had gardens on Harborn Road and raspberries from the Hulls.
For a while, the Worthys had riding horses stabeled on their property. The Thorns, who lived on the other side of us, had chickens. Our Great Danes chased the chickens when they would come into our property. We had a mink ranch for a few years. Margaret found arrowheads while digging in the garden.
In the spring Symes Creek and the creek back of Lynchmere overflowed their banks. Sometimes the water was flowing across the road at Symes Creek. Back of Lynchmere, the water would be across the whole valley.
Some of the species have died out over the years, such as the wild blueberries. There are a few species of ferns. Our trees are the focal point of the area.
In 1937, the Dundas Highway, the Queen Elizabeth Highway and Number 10 Highway were two-lane highways. Number 10 Highway was called Centre Road.
In our area the
streets were made of crushed stone. The roads were build by people on relief
(unemployed) who were paid with vouchers for groceries at Copeland’s General
Store in Cooksville. The men had to clear the trees with hand saws (no power saws then) and axes and picks and shovels were used.
There were no streetlights for a number of years. It could be scary to venture out on a dark night with the wild animals around. In summer, during a dry spell, we could run short of well water. The area is beautiful all four seasons of the year, and we are glad that we chose this area in which to live and to raise our family.
Some notes from Bambi Broomfield.
The Gordons were
among the early settlers in Mississauga. "Puss" Gordon was married to
Beaumont Gordon and was the sister-in-law of Jane, Jack and Tom Kennedy
whom the high school
was named after. He was the agricultural minister for the Province of Ontario for many years. Toronto Township was the heart of Ontario apple growers, and in the surrounding area, everything from asparagus, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes were available to us in vast quantities at minimal prices.
As a newly-wed I was quite surprised one day, when my cousin, Audrey Allen (whose father, the Hon. George Allan, who gave the Allan Gardens to City of Toronto) came out to visit us and exclaimed, "I have been here before, when I was much younger." She said, when she passed through the entrance stone gates, it suddenly registered, she had known the Rubridges (which is now the Laver property).
It is interesting to know, many of the properties distributed as Crown Grants on the east side of the Credit River were given to officers, who fought with Sir lssac Brock in the battles of 1812 at Queenston Heights.
To the south of the Laver property was a lovely property, once owned by an American, Warren Armstrong. Again, a winding drive through densely wooded oaks and pines and underbrush and trilliums carpeted the woods; the entrance was what it is now Autumn Breeze.
The Singers bought between the Lavers and Armstrongs and built the first modern house and swimming pool.
The Syme family played a very large part in the development of Gordon Woods. Their house was the old gray stone house on Autumn Breeze south, the first in that area with a drive leading into it. It seems Mr. Symes, an Eaton executive, had acquired the whole of the south side of Isabella Avenue from Gordon Drive to Parker Drive.
When we acquired the property, the taxes hadn't been paid for four years, and at that time, the taxes, unbelievably to us were only $17 per year.
Bruce Syme built himself the little stone house of the McGregors at the south corner of Gordon Drive and Isabella. His first house that he built was pulled down in 1986 to make way for a new one on Isabella Avenue. Bruce built a third house next to the McGregors house, much larger, for his enlarged family, Bruce had a colourful life and finally ended up an evangelical preacher, having once run 14 roadblocks on his way into Toronto on the Queen Elizabeth Way in the west lane instead of the east lane, an unforgettable feat, without being killed.
Paul Syme came to a sad ending, dying very suddenly in a car accident. It was he who built our four little original rooms and I am told they poured the cement foundation for four days and four nights — no wonder our house withstood the terrible explosion of the railway disaster in 1979.
The lovely Credit Valley stone houses on Gordon Drive were built by two friends, the Franks and the Searles, who later, having some disagreement, never spoke to each other again. But both houses are most distinguished, reminding one of a French chateau with slate roofs.
Pat Holmes built a good Georgian House. now the McNabbs, with a beautiful grove of hemlocks, so beautiful in wintry array. From there to the corner of Harborn Road, only one other house existed, the architecturally well-designed mansard house, built by the Hennings — a gem.
Then came Magistrate Gullen's corner, pond and the round house. On this pond all the children in the neighbourhood learned to skate and play hockey. ft was a happy scene among the trees.
Further on to the left on the south side of Harborn Road among the first settlers almost in the woods were our friends, the artists Marie and Ken Philips, who had lived here for at least 40 years. They had an entrancing collection and variety of wild flowers, and their woods were left au natural. It was always a happy time when passing to stop and have a chat. I miss the lovely three acres of varied species of trees of great beauty and size —all destroyed.
The pheasants always came back in the spring; the garden was alive with birds, the Baltimore Oriole singing the children to sleep. The last time we had a visit from a deer was March 15,1982. Mr. Brunskill of Parker Drive, I believe, had a visit about that time of five deer. Our bird count reached well over a hundred varieties in the early days with some of the most exotic colours, the Indigo Bunting, for example, with its electric blue and black.
I have seen the black and white bald headed eagle, gracing the mammoth pines that were once a forest — now Breezy Pines Drive. Once, my husband painted this forest and Mrs. English's footsteps for posterity are seen as she always walked through this scene of beauty across the creek to her little red house, still standing on Number 10 Highway. Wild thimbleberries grew across the road from us, which children picked and ate with joy. I shall always remember the collection of frogs, toads, garter snakes, so good for the garden. My favorites were the darling little salamander—with coral pink hands; the wicked praying mantis; the walking stick camouflaged in its brown colour; the little red flying squirrels, who till quite recently, lived on Harborn Road; and the ever present gray and black squirrels, who clean our forest.
Now I want to take
you to a once in a lifetime sight and experience. It was in the middle to the end of September, the trees were still rather dull and listless, not having got into their full fall colour
husband and I were walking around the block, when suddenly, going down Gordon Drive my eyes were alerted to thousands upon thousands of Monarch butterflies, clinging en masse to the lower branches of the trees. And as we walked, I saw before me more and more of the same, and finally, having turned the corner and now proceeding up Parker Drive, the trees hanging closest to the road were laden with these orange and black and white exquisite butterflies, the Monarchs clinging in thick clusters everywhere. We, the neighbours and strangers alike were united in awe at this most beautiful sight, a sight that only those who visit Mexico, might see, for it is there, that these wonderful butterflies travel, to winter some five thousand miles or so away. Our woods had been their choice for their rendezvous before leaving for Mexico.
Dr. Rawling (Parker Drive) had an amusing and original idea for a while, he had sheep grazing on his lawn instead of a lawnmower—no one has resorted to pigs yet.
Mr. Ross and Mr, Thompson are the two longest residents in this block and i believe we are next. Looking back over forty years, we have had a wonderful life, from a community giving great pleasure.
Recollections of Dorothy Quthet of 2231 Gordon Drive.
In the 1920's, my father bought 10 acres on Gordon Drive from Madame May in order to grow prize dahlias. He cleared land at the centre of the bush for rows of flowers, and built a small cottage and barn to house his horse and plough. The property included Breezy Pines and extended east across the Mary Fix Creek to the west extension of the Trillium Hospital Parking lot. My father sold most of his property in 1952, and the land was gradually developed into homes.
In my early teens, I would camp on my father's land, with my friends. We would pick strawberries at Brunskill's for a few cents a quart. Some thirty years later, my husband found arrowheads when he was gardening, near the same camping site.
As a later teen, I discovered there was a dime-a-dance pavilion in walking distance from the property. The pavilion was located at Stavebank and the South Service goad. We would walk along the embankment of the QEW for an evening of dancing.
Later still, in the 1930's, when the young men could drive out from Toronto, I hosted corn roasts where the majestic white pines still stand on Breezy Pines.
I remember a
gentlewoman, Gertrude Stewart, who lived on Gordon Drive, who was much
loved by the generation growing up in the 50's and 60's. She was a
retired teacher, and the kids knew her as The Cookie Lady". She lived in
a tiny cottage at the north of Gordon and Autumn Breeze. On summer
days, the children would visit gentle Gertie. They would congregate on
her shady, pine needled
back step, and eat cookies and enjoy sanctuary with their ancient friend.
My father sold the
last lot in the subdivision in the late 1960's. It was on the outside
bend of Breezy Pines. Until it was sold, the neighbourhood kids enjoyed
it as a baseball diamond—even
long hitters didn't cause any window damage.
Gordon Woods is one of the most desirable locations in Mississauga. At present, thecountry's greatest mayor, Hazel McCallion, serves us well. Although Pearson International Airport is very close and two main railways run near the area, this is a peaceful, tranquil community for which both the residents and Mississauga can be thankful and proud.