Harrison Happenings: A city for the future and the people

Mississauga truly a multicultural city, says world traveling columnist

To describe this interesting city, I will start with information gathered from “Wikipedia – Windows” and other sources during my recent vacation there.1. The name Mississauga comes from the Anishinaabe word “Misi – zaagiing” meaning, “Those at the Great River Mouth”. Both Iroquoians and Algongian speaking peoples lived in the Valley of the Great River area before the Europeans arrived in the 16th century.2. Mississauga is a city in South Ontario, at the shores of Lake Ontario, located in the district of Peel, in the western part of the greater Toronto area, but is a distinct city from Toronto.Established first on August 2, 1805, when officials of then “York” (now Toronto) purchased 84,000 acres of land from the Mississaugas. The original villages (and some later towns) i.e. Lakeview, Clarksen, Cooksville, Dixie, Erindale, Lorne Park, Port Credit, Sheridan and  Summerville have been incorporated at a later time. Thirteen km. of the land is fronting along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and there are two streams,  the Credit River and the Etobicoke Creek.3. Mississauga has come a very long way since then and according to the 2011 Stats Canada, its population has reached 734,000 people. It is a truly multicultural city with 44 per cent (Stats Canada) speaking languages other than English. The people are listed as caucasian, South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Arab, South East Asian and Latin American. The city is listed as Canada’s 11th best city to live and as the fourth most walkable city in Canada, according to “Walk Score”.4. My own observations: large housing areas consist mainly of single, semi-detached and townhouses with pockets of “estate-like” houses here and there, parks, schools, libraries and a new, much larger hospital (the Trillium).  There is a large city center consisting of “Square One”, surely one of the most glamourous shopping centers around, the “Living Art Complex”, the Civic Center with the “Celebration Square” and a number of restaurants. Several high-rise towers, including two nick-named “Marilyn Monroe Towers”, due to their curved style. The city center is also the central station for several bus lines connecting the various areas with each other and also with the Go-Bus system. And, in spite of several industrial areas, an abundance of trees, shrubs and flowers often give the impression of a gigantic park for the people to live in. No wonder the “Mississaugans” in general seem to be happy to live there.One of the neatest stories, however, is the story of Hazel McCallion (nick-named Hurricane Hazel) who served as the mayor of Mississauga since 1978. In recent years she did not campaign anymore, but was elected again and again by acclamation and in October, 2012 won with over 76 per cent of the votes. She is the longest reigning mayor in history, so it is thought that she will step down before she reaches the age of one hundred! I remember the first time I saw her on t.v., when she — accompanied by several seemingly reluctant officials and in spite of an injured foot — inspected the derailed train that carried deadly poisonous gases, causing the largest peacetime evacuation in the history of North American cities!Mississauga is truly a city for the people, a city that perhaps will serve as a model to city planners from around the world in the future. While I am truly glad that I was there again, I do regret that I missed the Mississauga Symphony’s last concert for the season by one day and the largest specific Multicultural Festival held annually at the Celebration Square, also just by a day or two.I must keep these days in mind for my next visit!