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Mississauga, Ontario: A City of Many Villages
Canada’s sixth largest city, Mississauga stretches along the banks of the Credit River and the shores of Lake Ontario, within shouting distance of Toronto and Niagara Falls. It is known for serene green spaces, picturesque waterfront trails, and superb shopping, but above all else, it’s known for its friendly, culturally diverse population: the locals speak over 130 languages! Hungry travellers can look forward to everything from tamales and blue lagoon soup to old-fashioned fish n’ chips, while tired travellers have their pick of places to sleep. Accommodations range from swish international chain hotels to vacation homes and simple roadside inns.
It takes a village…
Unlike most Canadian cities, which began as small settlements or villages that then steadily grew over time, Mississauga was created by formally linking several villages together. Now considered neighbourhoods within a single city, these historic villages have retained their original names as well as their unique character. Mississauga’s “Village on the Lake,” Port Credit offers one of Canada’s most vibrant main streets and its largest freshwater marina, along with a string of nine waterfront parks and an exceptionally picturesque lighthouse. Founded in 1808, Clarkson Village is a particularly attractive destination for history buffs, who will not want to miss the Bradley Museum (circa 1830) or the Benares Historic House (circa 1857). Streetsville, known as “The Village in the City,” offers an elegant downtown well suited to a romantic night out, while the Village of Malton once made aviation history with the Jetliner and Avro Arrow. Though its airport is no longer, the international connections it once forged live on in Malton’s rich array of ethnic restaurants and shops.
Shop til you drop…
Though the city is jam-packed with storefronts—there are 2,800 and counting!—Mississauga is particularly famous among Canadian shopaholics for the Square One Shopping Centre; the second largest in the country, it is home to over 320 stores, and is conveniently surrounded by well-known chain hotels at various price points. Nearby in Halton Hills, bargain hunting travellers will also find one of Ontario’s best outlet malls; the Toronto Premium Outlets offer over 80 stores, including luxury brands such as Burberry, Kate Spade, and Restoration Hardware. However, sightseers who love to “shop local” on vacation are similarly spoiled for choice in Mississauga; the upscale neighbourhood “villages” of Port Credit, Clarkson, and Streetsville each offer a wide variety of smaller retailers and specialty shops interspersed with nice local eateries, cafes, and antique dealers. And the Mississauga Chinese Centre, a beloved local landmark with an impressive traditional wooden gateway, is a must-stop if you are interested in authentic Asian food, clothing, or household items.
Go fishin’ in the park…
The Credit River, which winds through Mississauga on its way to Lake Ontario, is home to 79 species of fish including, most famously, salmon. The Great Ontario Salmon Derby, the largest inland water sport fishing competition in North America, lures thousands of competitive anglers here every year, and the river is also very popular for recreational fishing in all four seasons. Port Credit offers numerous salmon fishing boats and charters, but there is also plenty of room (and good fishing) along the river bank as well. Two of the best spots to cast a line, Erindale Park and J.C. Saddington Park, are also well worth a visit without a pole---and they are but two among hundreds! Mississauga is graced by 478 parks and 23 major trail systems. Locals are particularly fond of Kariya Park, a peaceful oasis in the downtown core, and avid gardeners should not miss the Brueckner Rhododendron Garden; this stunning woodland garden is at its best in May and June.
The show must go on…
Mississauga is home to a dynamic, creative community, with six public art galleries and seven performing arts centres. Chief among these is the Living Arts Centre, a downtown landmark with three theatres; one of these is devoted to the popular Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, while the others host a full slate of performances ranging from drama and ballet to jazz, comedy, and international headlining acts. The facility also offers seven professional craft studios, exhibition spaces, and an in-house restaurant. Travellers who enjoy cultural events in the open air might also consider planning a visit to Celebration Square; the city’s award-winning public gathering place doubles as a concert venue or movie theatre on a regular basis, and is known as “festival central” throughout the year. Just don’t forget to pack your skates if you are visiting Mississauga in winter, when the square is transformed into the city’s biggest outdoor rink.