Jane’s Walk was named after the late urbanist Jane Jacobs, who passed away in 2006. Since then, this non profit organization is dedicated to her memory of walkable urban spaces and that cities should be built and developed to foster people. It is entirely grass roots based, anyone can start one since there are Jane’s Walks organized locally in several cities and towns across the world. Here are the ones that are being organized in Mississauga.
Our group last weekend met at the bus terminal at Westwood Square at Goreway and Morningstar Drive. Westwood Square is currently going under some renovations, and when I went inside it was quite empty (in fact, the food court consisted of one Subway and one other food outlet). The mall is also next to the bus terminal, which provides a decent transit hub for people coming from Brampton, Etobicoke and beyond.
The Walk began by actually talking about the mall, which I had earlier walked through but didn’t take much notice except for the current emptiness. Turns out there was a lot to talk about the mall. The mall’s individual units are rented out separately, and when you walk through the space, you can see what the builders had in mind when it came to the type of businesses they were looking to attract. Small spaces, no more or less than 100 sq ft., that were designed to house individual small retailers or businesses temporarily before they grow and move on. It’s the same type of arrangement they have at Pacific Mall in Markham. This is quiet beneficial for businesses looking to establish a small office to reach out to clients in a certain territory or for start-ups, but harder to do anything substantial with the mall overall because of all the individual tenants/owners in the absence of one large owner, like Square One (which can renovate and change their properties as they see fit because of the one manager). The mall does provide some sense of community bonding, as they host Diwali fireworks on the roof, and it’s proximity to the Malton Community Centre makes the CC one of the busiest in Mississauga.
We moved on walking across Goreway Drive through the residential neighbourhoods across the way. One can see the desire for new development alongside what had been there for decades, but unfortunately that growth is hindered by the presence of the Pearson International Airport, which a long time ago was just the Malton Airport. That is changing, but it is changing slowly. The slow change is very evident by the way demographics have changed in Malton. It was once known for a large number of Italian Canadians settling in during the post WWII period, then as that community moved on it was the Polish community that settled in, and now it’s the South Asian community. What I’m getting at is Malton is kind of a crossroads community, people come and establish themselves before moving on in the way we know the middle class evolves. With the influx of Syrian refugees, who knows…it may be the Syrians who move in next and reshape Malton’s identity.
In terms of physical architecture in the residential neighbourhoods, Malton is probably the only community I know in Mississauga proper that has small one storey bungalows right next door to castle like mansions. Although that is the case, there are not a lot of mansions and large homes alongside the one storey bungalows right now, and even if there are there hasn’t been a lot of objections from the people in the area. The one storey bungalows were built in the post WWII period as veterans returned to settle down and start families, working nearby in the aerospace industry. However, with the influx of new people with more money, it’s not surprising to see more of these larger homes replacing the old ones.
As I mentioned, Malton is known for the Aerospace industry which once dominated the local economy. It still does, as Magellan Aerospace is currently a major employer due to its proximity to the airport. The photo depicts a statue of a CF-100 in Wildwood Park, a commemoration of the Avro Arrow which was developed and worked on in Malton. When that project was cancelled in 1959 by the Diefenbaker government, that affected some 15,000 jobs. When you consider how many people live in the area, that pretty much affects the entire community.
We then headed down Derry Road from the Goreway towards the intersection with Derry. I was quite intrigued about the variety at an intersection with a street called Professional Court. Professional Court is interesting because the primary type of property along it, all the way until the end (because it ends in a cul-de-sac), were places of worship. This is the Light Presbyterian Church at the entrance of the street (photo above), followed by a Hindu temple, Orthodox Church, Kalibari, an Apostle Church along the rest of the street. Ironically, at the end of Professional Court is a Home Depot, which in a way is almost like a church (if the faith you worship is home design and capitalism, lol).
Right across from the Presbyterian church at the mouth of Professional is the Benisasia Funeral Home. At this point, one of the walkers, Nicole, regaled us on the story of the funeral home. I thought it was about how they requested from the City the permission to do cremations, but it was much worse than that. Apparently the funeral home skimped on the embalming chemicals, causing bodily fluids to seep out of the coffins during visitations. If that doesn’t generate some class action lawsuits, I do not know what will.
Malton GO station we could not pass by without noticing. With the anticipated electrification of GO transit and all day two way service, Malton GO will become a major transit hub in the near future. Unfortunately right now, it’s not very pedestrian friendly; there was no way any of us could have crossed over safely. The large parking lot is an indication that most people there drive their cars and park there to commute into downtown Toronto.
As we were wrapping up our tour of Malton with a stop in Old Victory Village, which was first built to house veterans and hence the name, we passed through a few oddities at the rail underpass at Derry and Airport. There were some bicycles that were painted white and looked abandoned (apparently they are known as ‘ghost bikes’). There was a plaque dedicated to the longtime councillor for Malton, Frank McKechnie, and a gopher popped out from underneath a boulder. Frank McKechnie was, from around 1957 to 1994, the councillor for the Malton area, so much so that he was nicknamed ‘The Mayor of Malton’ (if you venture into the Frank McKechnie Community Centre down Bristol Rd east of Hurontario, there is a plaque dedicated to him in the shape of Ward 5).
Our last leg of the Jane’s Walk on Malton featured a venturing into Old Victory Village, which apparently once housed a general store and is right next to the rail line. Apparently a number of the houses that remain are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act, and Council is currently considering heritage designation for many others. Some of the property you can see date back to the 1950’s, perhaps even the 1940’s. One of them (pictured above) recently sold, but apparently it had to have the appearance of a normal house, so the realtor painted the windows and doors on, which looked really childish. Again, more evidence of Malton going through this transition from what is already there, to what will be coming.
It was quite an enjoyable and insightful time, experiencing my first Jane’s Walk. Please go to Jane’s Walk website because in the first weekend of next month (May 6 and 7), there will be a plethora of walks across the City of Mississauga. I encourage anyone interested in learning about the city and their community to attend.