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Malton: Founding a Village:

The intersection of Derry Road and Airport Road, known as the “Four Corners”, was once the center of the village of Malton. Although Malton has evolved from an agricultural to an industrial community, traces of its earlier history remain.

The first recorded settler in Malton was Samuel Moore, who arrived in 1823. Among the other early settlers was Richard Halliday, a native of Malton in Yorkshire, England, who had arrived in this area in 1819. By the late 1830s, Halliday had gained sufficient influence, being the only blacksmith in town, to have his new home named after his birthplace. He is often considered to be the founder of Malton.

In the 1840s, members of the Blanchard family cleared land northwest of the “Four Corners” and this area soon developed into the village of Malton By 1850 the village consisted of a general store, a cobbler shop, a small hotel and blacksmith. The arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1854 provided local farmers with easier access to the market, and the railway helped to turn Malton into a major grain handling and export centre. Malton was awarded the county seat in 1859, which it held for a year, and was incorporated as a police village in 1914. In 1937 Malton was chosen as the site for a new international airport. The airport provided wartime prosperity to the area and was a military training ground. Today it is known as Pearson International Airport.

A Sense of Community Spirit:

The Calithumpian Parade, which took place annually on the first Saturday of August, was a major community event for the citizens of Malton. Horse drawn floats on farm wagons paraded through the village, followed by a picnic and various sporting events. The surrounding communities of Elmbank, Clairville and Grahamsville joined Malton in this annual celebration. 

Although the origins of the word “Calathumpian” are vague, one suggestion was that it meant “All hell let loose”! One of the highlights of this parade was the great “Ringling Brothers’ Tiger” float. It was a wagon decorated and made into a cage to hold the “fierce tiger”, John McMillen. The parade often became a lively affair where “spirits flowed liberally”. The parade was held annually until 1914.

The Malton Fire:

On October 25, 1969 much of the old village of Malton was destroyed when a gas main exploded. The resulting fire raged for hours and sadly one woman, long-time Malton resident Jean Perigo, was killed in the explosion. In the aftermath of the explosion it was said that the area resembled a “blackout during the wartime” and a “war zone.” Some of the merchants at the four corners were able to recover and resume their livelihoods, but the devastating incident shifted the focus of Malton away from the original center of the pioneer village. For many of those who came to live in Malton after the 1970s, there is precious little left of “Old Malton”, in the wake of the fire.

Lester B. Pearson International Airport:

At the southwest corner of present-day Malton is the Lester B. Pearson International Airport, formerly the Malton International Airport. In 1937, the Harbour Commission of the City of Toronto began the purchasing of thirteen local farms for the development of the airport, signalling an end to Malton’s agricultural heritage.

The first aircraft to land in Malton was an American Airlines DC-3 carrying airline-officials to the Canadian National Exhibition. About a year later, the National Steel Car Company of Hamilton hired 700 people to build an aircraft factory.  The construction of the first aircraft, a Lysander military observation plane was completed soon afterward, prompting a dramatic increase in Malton’s overall population.

With the onset of the Second World War, Malton focused on an Allied Flying Training Programme and airport activity increased. By 1942, the Mackenzie King government had assumed control of the airport on a lease from the City of Toronto. Victory Aircraft began building the Lancaster bombers for the war effort, with 9,000 employees producing 40 planes each month at the height of the War in 1944-45. The airport continued to be an integral part of the local economy after the War.

Malton and the Great War:

During the First World War the people of Malton bore the burden of shortages and the loss of loved ones, as did most small towns. Nineteen young men from Malton and the surrounding rural community served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and eight of them were killed: John Moore, George Whitehead, Charles Rollings, Robert Whitehead, Oliver Garbutt, Arthur Whitehead, George Hostrawser and Oliver Hammerton.

Some families bore a heavy burden and local farmers were very busy, given the shortage of men available for seasonal work. Resiliently, Malton farmers played a significant role in Canada’s agricultural contribution to the war effort as production of grain, cheese, beef and pork increased to record levels. While women did not serve in the army, they aided ably in the difficult farm labour and in establishing clubs and church groups that contributed to the efforts of the Red Cross. Also, the Malton Women’s Institute knitted scarves, socks, mitts and balaclavas for soldiers at the front.

Victory Village:

What used to form the north part of the Codlin Farm was expropriated by the Canadian government in 1942 to meet an urgent need for temporary housing. The necessity of workers living near their wartime employment grew to the point that a whole subdivision of wartime housing was constructed and named “Victory Village.”

The Community Hall, on the northeast corner of Churchill and Victory Crescent, once a popular centre for social events, allowed servicemen to relax from the trauma of war. During the early 1940s, it was also used as an overflow classroom for the grades one and two students of Malton Public School.

After the War, the temporary homes were still required to house airport workers who were involved in peacetime aircraft manufacturing activity. The subdivision is a long-standing physical reminder of Malton’s involvement in the Second World War and in the subsequent aviation industry.

A.V. Roe and the AVRO Arrow:

The A.V. Roe plant in Malton produced North America’s first jet passenger plane, the Jetliner, in 1949. By 1953, the 18,000 workers at the aircraft and engine plants were producing the CF100 all-weather jet interceptor for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The company also designed and built the CF-100, affectionately known as the “Canuck”, and the prototype flew for the first time on January 19, 1950.  In honour of this contribution to aviation made by the people of Malton one of the few remaining CF-100s was raised, in October 1972, by the Malton Legion.  The aircraft sits majestically atop a pedestal in Wildwood Park as a testament to one of Canada’s most impressive aviation success stories.

With the booming success of the aviation industry over 900 of the A.V. Roe company workers lived in Malton. The A.V. Roe plant in Malton was the largest aircraft plant in the British Commonwealth.

Amidst the dark period of the Cold War, engineers at the A.V. Roe began working on plans for the supersonic CF105 Arrow fighter. The legendary Avro Arrow, which was entirely designed and built in Malton, had its first flight on March 25, 1958. It was internationally acknowledged to be the most powerful and sophisticated fighter aircraft in the world.

In late 1958 following a visit to Canada by American president Eisenhower, a cabinet decision seems to have been made that the Arrow would be cancelled and would be replaced by a defence sharing arrangement based on the use of American Bomarc missiles.  This cancellation was not announced until Friday February 20th, 1959, an infamous date in Mississauga’s history.  It will be forever known as “Black Friday.”  At Malton, about 15,000 employees were suddenly without jobs, and Canada-wide another 10,000 or so people were in the same position at the various sub-contractors.

Further Reading:

© Mississauga Heritage 2009