Don’t let the title confuse you, Streetsville is far from being a ghost town, unlike Balaclava that came up in the last 52-Roll project I ran. Rather the Ghosts title goes more with the featured image below and the former Barber House and the ghost stories that go along with the original house and its property. I had never considered Streetsville as a place to go specifically for photography. Sure, I had been through Streetsville before for a War of 1812 reenactment during the bicentennial and when capturing a 4×5 image of the Barber house for the Acts of Confederation project. But recently over the Christmas break when I did a curbside exchange of camera gear over the Christmas break I realised that there are plenty of rich photographic opportunities presented by the former town of Streetsville.
Being located on the Credit River, the area that would become Streetsville was originally part of Neutral peoples’ confederacy at least until the 1650s when a military push by the Iroquois caused the mass extinction of that nation. But even the Iroquois were supplanted by the Ojibwa by the 18th-Century. The Ojibwa were called Mississaugas by the European Settlers. And much of their land had been turned over to the British Colonial Government by 1805. However, a further purchase of the Credit River area took place in 1818 during the initial push for further European Settlement following the Anglo-American War of 1812. Timothy Street and Robert Bristol were the two men who surveyed the region shortly after the land had been acquired. Timothy recognized the areas potential and submitted a request to purchase land on the Credit River. The first European Settlement started in 1819 with James Glendinning being the first to settle in the area, followed shortly after by Timothy. The two men worked together, with James being a farmer needing to clear his large stones fields, which Timothy used to build a gristmill and a sawmill powered by the Credit River. A small community grew up around the mill and took the name Streetsville after Timothy. The stone and clay in the area provided easy access to building supplies, and families could easily have a brick home within a few months of arriving. The first commercial store opened in 1821 under John Barnhard; the Montreal House acted as a general store and trading post that could bring in luxury goods from British North America’s commercial hubs. Mills, Tanneries, and Brickworks provided the economic backbone to the region. The civil unrest of the 1830s came to Streetsville in the winter of 1836, William Lyon MacKenzie, fleeing from his failed uprising in Toronto took shelter with the Comfort family, known supporters of the Rebel movement, Comfort owned a mill in Streetsville. During MacKenzie’s escape, several men captured a tortured Comfort’s wife Sarah, eventually leading to her death and Comfort’s arrest. Upon his release, he sold his land to the Barber’s, looking to open a Woolens Mill in Streetsville and established the Toronto Woolen Mills. One of their partners opened the first hotel in the community the Franklin House in 1851. That same year, one of the region’s first secondary school or Grammar School opened in Streetsville. By 1858, Streetsville boasted three churches, several mills and shops and a population of 1500 and incorporation as a village. The Credit Valley Railroad arrived in 1874. The first proper railroad station was completed in 1879 when Canadian Pacific purchased CVR in 1883 the continued operation of both passenger and cargo traffic through the small narrow village. While the community continued to prosper through the early 20th Century, by 1951 the population had fallen to just above 1300. But the village had no intention of becoming a ghost town, two new developments, or suburbs opened in 1953 during the post-war boom as many migrated out of the large cities. And by 1962 the community reached a 5,000 and incorporated as a town, using the old 1851 grammar school as their town hall. But even by then, the writing was on the wall, the creation of the city of Mississauga in 1968 originally excluded Streetsville, by 1974 rapid expansion saw the town incorporated into the growing sprawl.
Despite having such a rich number of images captured on the day, actually going back and choosing the seven proved easy, thanks to the wonderful people from Heritage Mississauga and those who are in Streetsville for maintaining and publically documenting their village’s history. The number one image that actually was the first frame I shot is of the old Barber House, now looking a little worse for wear, and as you saw in the previous paragraph has a rich history tied up in a volatile point in Canada’s history. The second no-brainer was the former Grammar School, just a grand old building that again carries a great story of being the oldest secondary school in the region and serving for nearly 100 years in that role. Finding the headstone of Timothy Street, the town’s namesake was all thanks again to a plaque near the town’s main cemetery. The Streetsville BIA office caught my eye by how familiar it was to my eye, being similar to a building found at Black Creek Pioneer Village (don’t worry it’s on the list once some of these restrictions lift), the building at Black Creek being a tinsmith spot. In a strange twist, the BIA office was a Library before a BIA office and before that, it was the town’s tinsmith. Two more no-brainer inclusions are the 1879 Credit Valley Railroad Station, another brilliant piece of local history that was saved in 1914 and moved from the rail tracks to the current location. Then there’s the Montreal House which remains the oldest surviving building in Streetsville dating to 1821 and the oldest commercial building in Mississauga. The only one I second-guessed is the Odd Fellows Hall, I originally planned was of the United Church just across from the spot I parked. But technically I was not fond of that photo as much; the sky got blown. But the Odd Fellows Hall, not only looked visually interesting with the contrast between the upper and lower parts of the building, the fact that it’s boarded up, and is a unique building in the downtown.
As we go through this project, you’ll quickly realise that one of my favourite lenses is the 35mm focal length and while the Nikkor 35/2.8 the late model AI-S version might not have the same bling factor as the f/2 version or earlier versions of the lens it is the one that rarely leaves the camera body unless I need it on another manual focus Nikon body. While I had initially questioned my choice in the focal length as Streetsville is slightly more narrow than Guelph and I thought about tucking the 28mm lens in the bad I’m glad that I didn’t, the 35mm was perfect. In fact, I think the 28mm would have been detracting as it was far easier to frame up a lot of the shots. I added a yellow filter for this week because we actually got some rare blue sky and sun when I was out, so I wanted to get some separation between the sky and clouds. But glad I only went with a pale yellow filter instead of a deep yellow as the separation and boosted, in contrast, was just the right amount. Like the 35mm focal length, you’ll also realise that I tend to shoot Fomapan 400 slower than box speed and probably will never push the film beyond the ASA-400 mark, which means that this week I also shot the film at ASA-200, but didn’t go with Rollei Low Speed. While the developer’s results were not bad, I didn’t like the loss of contrast. Instead, I went with another new-to-me developer, Adox Atomol 49. And to be honest, I think we got a perfect storm, having never seen such a dynamic result from Fomapan 400. And to be honest, being the first time I developed Fomapan 400 in Atomol I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly like results.
Stick around for next week as we head indoors and get a glimpse of life on an empty campus for one of two. IT support folks during the time of mainly remote learning.