Giving The River Its Due Credit

By : Dr. Samson Lee

Credit River Dental Centre was named as a tribute to its proximity to the Credit River, but what do we know about this Southern Ontario river this office was named for? First of all, the Credit River flows from above the Niagara Escarpment near Orangeville and Caledon East and empties into Lake Ontario right here in Port Credit, Mississauga, just west of  Credit River Dental Centre. The total length of the river and its tributary streams measures over 1,500 kilometres.

Archaeological evidence suggests that both Iroquoian and Algonquian-speaking peoples were attracted to the Credit River Valley over a period of thousands of years. By 1700 the Ojibwa, an Algonquian tribe, had driven the Iroquois from the North Shore of Lake Ontario, and a group of Ojibwa, known as the Mississaugas, had settled around the mouth of the Credit River. Based on the trading relationship between the natives and European peoples, the Mississaugas First Nations called the river The Missinnihe or “Trusting Creek”. The Mississaugas are part of the Ojibwa Nation, in the Algonquian language family. The origin of the English name comes from when French fur traders supplied goods to the native people in advance (on credit) against furs which would be delivered the following spring. This was around 1668. It was then known as the Rivière au Crédit. In the early 18th century, the trading post was set up at the mouth of the river in Port Credit. At one time major milling complexes stretched along its banks.

After the decline of French power in this region, the British established their own trade with the Mississaugas, building a trading post and Government Inn on the east bank of the Credit River around 1798. In late 1825, the Government agreed to build the Mississaugas a village near the Credit River. The site of the village would have been on Mississauga Road where the Mississauga Golf and Country Club is today and became known as the Credit Mission.  As early as 1840, the Mississauga decided to leave the Credit River. In 1847, the Mississauga of the Credit River left for the Six Nations Reserve and established the New Credit Reserve in Hagersville.

The first light house on the Credit River was constructed in 1863 by Frederick Chase Capreol. The lighthouse, which was built out in the harbour, was taken over by the Ontario government in 1882. A 1908 flood separated the lighthouse from the mainland and in 1918 the lighthouse closed. The old lighthouse burned in 1936. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1991and is a Peel Region pumping station and the home of the Port Credit BIA.

The Credit River is home to a number of different species, some seasonal residents and some year round. These include:

  • 264 species of birds

  • 79 fish species

  • 55 species of mammals

  • 5 species of turtles

  • 7 kinds of snakes

  • 17 amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders & newts)

  • 1420 species of plants

In 2013, the Credit Valley Conservation was looking to get the Credit River Heritage designation but Ontario’s member on the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board unfortunately said that the group won’t consider adding any new rivers at the moment.