Mississauga - From Farmlands to 6th Largest City in Canada

Mississauga is the 6th most populous city in Canada, yet very few people outside of the Greater Toronto Area would recognize it. And th...

Mississauga is the 6th most populous city in Canada, yet very few people outside of the Greater Toronto Area would recognize it. And those who do, I bet would have hard time spelling or pronouncing its name. What's absolutely remarkable about Mississauga is that this city of over 750,000 people does not have a feeling of a big city at all, but rather a suburb of Toronto. Most of Mississauga is covered with one or two-story residential and office buildings. Up until recently, it didn't even have a city centre that would look more or less like a traditional North American downtown. The reason for that is that Mississauga was never a single city. It was created to pull many small towns and villages together, mostly farmlands. But it's changing now and changing fast. Ladies and gentlemen - meet Mississauga!

Mississauga is home to many global and regional headquarters in pharmaceutical, financial and technological industries. 
Its real estate market is a bit cheaper than in Toronto, but still quite expensive. 
For those who want to explore Mississauga as a tourist, here is my warning: this city is extremely pedestrian-unfriendly. Long distances, very windy, little shade in the summer, wide roads, scarce and rare public transit - just to name a few. But if you have a car, you have all chances to see all its main attractions in one day.
If Mississauga got onto your travel list as a separate destination, and not as a drive-through to Toronto or Niagara Falls, these are the places you should not miss: Celebration Square in downtown, Port Credit, Mississauga Road from Burnhamthorpe Rd to Lakeshore Blvd. 
You can enjoy fall colours in full while taking a multi-use Credit Valley Trail that stretches from north to south along the city main water artery. Lake Ontario and Toronto skyline are the best seen from Waterfront Trail. 
Pearson Airport, the busiest airport in Canada, is not usually considered an attraction, but recently renovated Terminal 1 features some cool exhibitions about the Canadian heritage, so you can spare some time on that while waiting for your flight. 
If you're hungry, you can find food from all the world. Mississauga has a big South Asian community (about 27% of the total population), so you can expect to find lots of restaurants that serve great food from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afganistan.
The heart of the city is at Celebration Square, but most people know it as Square One, the name of the large shopping centre next door.
This is the prime view of the Mississauga's city centre - a huge parking lot at Square One.
But, as you can see, the good thing about Square One is that there is plenty of free parking, so you will never have a dilemma - should I drive downtown or should I take a public transit to save on travel time and expensive parking. In Mississauga, you always drive downtown.
Speaking about public transit: Mississauga has over 90 bus routes and negotiated a free transfer with 68 additional routes in Brampton. The city has recently built Transitway, a east-west bus-only corridor for faster and more convenient service. Buses are normally on time even on regular roads unless there is a big congestion somewhere. 
But in all fairness, if not the three lines of GO train that crisscross the city and connect it with downtown Toronto, Mississauga would be toast and drown in traffic jams.
A tip for pedestrians: if you want to cross an intersection, be sure to request it by pressing a button. Otherwise, you can stand and wait for the whole day. I learnt this lesson myself on a windy day in the 2011 early spring.
Many high-rise condominiums have been built in downtown Mississauga over the past decade.
Those condominiums are probably the best thing Mississauga could have done to start looking like a city. 
The most impressive new addition to the Mississauga's skyline is Absolute World at Hurontario St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd. Its twisted towers, designed by Chinese architect Ma Yansong, are mesmerizing no matter the weather or time of the day.
My story about Mississauga would not be complete without mentioning Hazel McCallion, the city's mayor for 36 years. She has retired 3 years ago and is now 96 years old. People call her 'Hurricane Hazel' for her energy and political style. I don't mean to discount anyone else's merits, but she has been the biggest contributor to transform Mississauga from a handful of villages to a big city.
Hazel McCallion gained her extreme popularity in 1979 when, after being a mayor for only a few months, she oversaw the largest peacetime evacuation in North America before 2005 (200,000 people) following the derailment of a train with toxic chemicals in Mississauga. Fortunately, no one died, but it could have been a disastrous event had the chemicals exploded. 
In March 2017, Sheridan College opened a new campus named after Hazel McCallion.
Bring your own chess.
The campus looks very contemporary and fresh.
Great idea to paint tree trunks in blue - very colourful and lush.
A small parkette near the City Hall is a much needed piece of greenery in downtown Mississauga.
A small but beautiful Kariya Park is especially popular in April - May when Japanese cherry trees are is full blossom.
This picture is made of photographs. Zoom in to see it.
There is no shortage of green space outside of downtown Mississauga. The city has quite a few bike and walking trails.
 Some places look really wild, and car noise reminds that you are in the city.
So whether you are a beach bum, an urban explorer, a nature lover, a shopaholic or a foodie, Mississauga has things to cater to every taste. Enjoy and share if you liked the article!

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