“West of What?”

By Matthew Wilkinson, Historian, Heritage Mississauga

Several months ago we received an inquiry from a Ward 10 resident. The inquiry was simple and to the point: “Tenth Line West? West of what?” It was a good question, and a short and simple answer, albeit one in need of further explanation, is that Tenth Line is actually west of nothing. Bare with me, and we will come back to this.

A drive along Ninth Line today fairly shouts out to the observer the stark difference between urban Mississauga on the east, and a more rural setting on the west side of the road. Roads themselves can also link the landscape to its historic roots. Rights-of-ways long established oftentimes form the backbone for the modern community that grows up around (and on) them. Ninth Line and Tenth Line, which are two prominent north-south routes of travel in Ward 10, have been surveyed rights of ways for almost 200 years. But have you ever wondered what was meant by these road names?

First, these roads are not historically connected with the survey of Toronto Township (modern Mississauga). Ninth and Tenth lines were concession lines (running north and south) in Trafalgar Township, part of Halton County, not Peel County. The centre point for the New Survey of Toronto Township (Mississauga) in Peel County was Hurontario Street (formerly Centre Road), with concession lines marked out at equal intervals both east and west on this centre point. The concessions, and thereby the concession roads which divided the concessions, were assigned sequential numbers. For example, Second Line West was the 2nd concession road, running north-south, to the west of the centre line (Hurontario Street). What we know today as Winston Churchill Boulevard was the historic division line between the new surveys of both Toronto Township (Mississauga) in Peel County, and Trafalgar Township (Oakville) in Halton County. As such, Winston Churchill Boulevard originally was known as the “Town Line”, but was officially referred to in the survey as Sixth Line West – that is, it belonged to the survey of Toronto Township.

So we can only imagine some the confusion when a future researcher overlays historic maps and modern maps of the City of Mississauga, and sees a road which was formerly known as Sixth Line West running parallel to roads indicating Tenth Line and Ninth Line. Something will not quite add up. Why would the numbers count up, and then count down? What happened to the “missing” numbers in between?

Well, there are no missing numbers, but to find the answer or the clues, and to return to our original subject question for this article, we need to look to the west. The starting point for the new survey of Trafalgar Township is a concession line known today as Tremaine Road. Concessions in Trafalgar Township were arrayed at equal intervals, running east from Tremaine Road, and these concessions were numbered sequentially. Ninth Line was therefore the 9th concession road east of Tremaine Road. Tenth Line, likewise, was the 10th concession road east of Tremaine Road. It might sound a bit confusing, but there is simplicity to it, akin to making a grid on the landscape and numbering all the squares in the grid. If you were to travel west along Eglinton Avenue (which becomes Lower Base Line in Halton), or Britannia Road, or Derry Road, you will find the concession roads counting down in sequential order until you reach Tremaine Road. Many of these numbered concession roads, both here in Mississauga and in Halton, no longer carry their original number designations and have been given names over the years. Ninth Line and Tenth Line still carry their numbered designations, and in this, carry a name connection to our historic past – even if this part of Mississauga was not part of our city until 1974.

But this brings us back to the inquiry which led to this article: “Tenth Line West? West of what?” Technically and historically, Tenth Line was never given an “East of” or “West of” designation until recently. Concession roads in Trafalgar Township radiated only in one direction – eastwards – from the survey starting point (Tremaine Road), and there was no need to indicate compass bearings. That being said, if we were to put a correct orientation on the road name, Tenth Line is not historically west of anything – at least in terms of the survey. Tenth Line marked the end of the line, or at least the end of the survey. “Tenth Line EAST” would actually be a more historically accurate designation. Regardless of the idle ponderings of a historian, for who historical surveys can be a wonderful and exciting topic, the name association of Tenth Line in itself is the important connection the history of Ward 10, and we hope will be preserved as it contributes subtlety to a sense of place and time.