There is a diverse and rich history that flows—literally!—through our region. The natural strength and beauty of the mighty Credit River has helped shape our communities in as many ways as the river is long. Beginning near Orangeville, the Credit is almost 90 kilometres long and is supplied by a network of winding streams and tributaries in an expansive network that stretches over 1500 kilometres.
Stories shared by generations tell of the Indigenous Peoples’ reference to the river as Missinnihe, meaning ‘trusting creek’. In time, as Indigenous peoples began exchanges with British and French fur traders, it evolved to become known as the Rivière au Crédit. Serving as an early river of commerce, the Credit earned its name when there were not enough pelts to meet prescribed trades, so “credit” was extended until the next spring.
There is no question that this is a mighty waterway. As early settlers gathered in small communities along the banks of the river, it quickly became a powerhouse in the region, providing an energy source for some of the first saw and grist mills. The stream was a founding figure for communities like Inglewood, Norval, Huttonville, Streetsville, Mississauga and of course Port Credit, where it travels to its final destination into Lake Ontario.
Today, the river is within one of the most densely populated regions of Canada and encompasses some of the most diverse landscapes of Southern Ontario. While the commercial aspect of the river is now not as important as protecting its watershed and conservation, people continue to be drawn to its beauty and the water’s properties of calm and happiness.
According to Credit Valley Conservation’s Jon MacMull, “Clean air, clean water, the assimilation of waste, the regulation of climate and of water flows, food, wildlife habitat, recreation, and spiritual opportunities are all provided to area residents by a healthy and functioning ecosystem with the Credit River at its heart.”
A gorgeous spot to connect
The Credit serves as a captivating backdrop for the iconic Streetsville Founders’ Bread and Honey Festival every June, and as a beacon for anglers and admirers drawn to the riverbend in the heart of Erindale Park, Mississauga’s largest green belt. In autumn, enthusiasts watch as Chinook and Atlantic salmon make their way upstream to spawning grounds. The excitement of young families as they witness a 20 + pound fish swimming against the river flow is not to be missed. Fun fact: Salmon were once so plentiful in the river through the town of Terra Cotta, north of Mississauga, that it was previously named Salmonville.
Nature abounds here
The abundance of life that is sustained by the Credit River is in itself, miraculous. Says MacMull, “the river is home to a wide range of wildlife including 244 bird species, 64 fish species, 41 species of mammals, five species of turtles, eight kinds of snakes, 17 amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders and newts) and 1,330 plant species.” What’s more, the river is the most diverse cold-water fishery in Ontario, perhaps even North America.
To support future enjoyment of the Credit, a new trail system will eventually span 100 kilometres along the river, connecting Orangeville to Port Credit. To date, 32 kilometres are complete, with a campaign underway to raise funds for the remainder of the legacy trail. These types of natural outlets have only become more important, as the pandemic highlighted the need for access to diverse, natural spaces and the critical role they play in health and wellness. Credit Valley Conservation, for one, has seen a nearly 70 per cent increase in visitation during the pandemic.
A big part of the draw, naturally, are the sights and sounds of the majestic Credit River. Picture, on your next visit to this life-giving body of water, the expanse of the powerful history that exists along its banks… and remember that the sounds of its mighty flow would also be familiar to those of generations past.
Anwar Knight is an award-winning broadcaster, whose genuine and warm engaging personality has made him a favourite with audiences nationwide. With an insatiable curiosity, Anwar connects and inspires real-world action through storytelling. He is a passionate steward of nature and is working to propel efforts to preserve our earth.
Join Anwar on his podcast BigBlueMarble.earth and his recently launched FBLive show “Here n’ There” every Friday at Noon