Seeking information about the Pleasant Valley Mobile Home Park in Mississauga

I’ve recently received a message from a Wilfred Laurier student who is doing research about the history of the Pleasant Valley Mobile Home Park in Mississauga.

Please contact me, in the event you have information that would be helpful, with regard to the above-noted research project.

Left to right, Ted Long, Patrick Long, and Garry Burke outside Small Arms Inspection Building at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East, Aug. 5, 2018. Jaan Pill photo

Left to right, Ted Long, Patrick Long, and Garry Burke outside Small Arms Inspection Building at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East, Aug. 5, 2018. Jaan Pill photo

I recently sent out an email to a list of people who might be able to help out with the research project. In the email I sent out, I got some of the facts wrong, in talking about another trailer park, and Garry Burke has kindly corrected me. I much appreciate his correction.

I’m also pleased to say that I met on Aug. 5, 2018 with Garry Burke, Patrick Long, and Ted Long to get first-hand information about the time that Garry Burke and Ted Long had spent at the Long Branch Army Camp and other locations as children during the postwar years.

We first met for lunch and then had a walk in the vicinity of the Small Arms Inspection Building near where some of housing had been located. What a great experience that was, for all of us! I picked up so much interesting new information – and fresh insights – related to the topic of postwar emergency housing in the Toronto area.

It will take me quite some time to transcribe audio recordings from our conversations and edit the video recordings that we made, as it is a busy summer on many levels for me. However, I’m pleased to get started with this project, by sharing some information (please see below) that Garry Burke has shared by email.

Garry Burke has shared a correction regarding the trailer park that used to be located by Etobicoke Creek north of Lake Shore Blvd. West; his text follows below:

The trailer park was located to the west of the Etobicoke Creek, not the east. And although the park area was indeed flooded, no trailers were washed away. I remember a TV news video of the trailer park on the Sunday after the storm, showing most of the trailers with water up to the doors, and the broadcaster’s resonating voice that the residents will have to, “start again.” Two people can be seen moving around some trailers in a canoe. I’m sure that video is still in an archives, whatever the Toronto’s TV station was in those days.

To say that trailers were, “washed away,” simply is not true. They were all there after the waters receded. Some of the smaller ones may have been shifted off their foundations, but they were still there. There was no current in that flood plain. The water from the creek just seeped in that Friday evening when the Etobicoke overflowed its banks. That’s why our friends, a young couple, living there said, “What the hell!” and moved in with my family for two days. They then went back and cleaned up the mess. I had a boyhood chum who also lived in the trailer camp, but I had lost touch with him by October of ’54 when Hazel struck.

My memories of that weekend are vivid. Remember, the Etobicoke flooded every spring, forcing the folks who lived in those lovely little shanties that bordered the river where Marie Curtis Park is now situated, to relocate for a few days. But Hazel really did a job on those dwellings, and their time was kaput. As a kid, I envied those families with a home right on the bank of the Etobicoke, even though they had to grab suitcases and head for higher ground every spring. The rest of the year must have seemed idyllic living there. I wonder now what kind of sewage facilities were hooked up to those cottage size homes.

[End of text from Garry Burke]


3 replies
  1. David Webster
    David Webster says:

    re: comments from Garry Burke concerning the Pleasant Valley Trailer Park.

    At the time of Hurricane Hazel I was 12 years old and lived on the west side of 41st. St. North of James St. Saturday morning Oct. 15th. I looked out of my bedroom window and was very surprised to find that many homes on 42nd St. (west side ), 43 St. and Island road had simply disappeared or in some cases were wrapped around trees. The majority of dwellings on these streets had been constructed as summer cottages, had no basements and were not anchored to the ground. There was a water line servicing 42nd. St., but at the corner of James St. and 43 St. a community tap served the residents. I believe there were three taps along 42nd. St.

    I quickly dressed and went to Mike Korpi’s home on 42nd. St. (east side, dry). We rode our bikes to the mouth of the river , (slipped past the cops trying to keep people away). What we saw was incredible, lumber as far as the eye could see, floating in the lake. Complete roofs and house trailers washed down from the trailer park. There were no buildings north of the railway bridge and the only place the trailers could have originated was the Pleasant Valley Trailer Park.

    My mother was coming from working the afternoon shift and was dropped off at approx. 11.45 pm. Her driver later told her that he stopped at the highway bridge overlooking the river and saw trailers swirling around in the current before disappearing under the bridge and down the river..

    For verification I refer you to Betty Kennedy’s excellent book “Hurricane Hazel” published in 1979 by MacMillan of Canada.I refer you to chapter 8, “Orphans of the Storm” Pg.92 and “Aftermath” Pg.129.

    I have only one other comment,a correction. The village of Long Branch dump truck, was on it’s side on 43rd. St. not Island road. The truck was recovered, repaired and continued in service for several years. There were two identical trucks but that truck was sway-backed from the bent frame, damage caused during the storm. Each time it went by we were reminded of the night.

    I trust this may be of assistance. Norman Kennedy, who occasionally corresponds with Jaan may be able to add to what I have written.

    Best Regards.

    PS. a berm about eight feet high was built to protect what was left of the Trailer Park.

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Here’s an additional comment, from another source, that I’m pleased to pass along:

    there are a few photos on the Toronto City Archives website for a trailer park in Long Branch

    type “long branch” in the search and click the box for scanned photographs only

    If the link does not work just search City of Toronto archives.

    As noted you can also search the newspapers. Old issues of the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star can be accessed through the databases available through the city of toronto library website. you need a library card however.

  3. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    I also want to add that I am very pleased – very pleased, indeed – that this website can serve as a communications hub, by means of which we can share information related to local history.

    We owe many, and heartfelt, thanks to each person, who has contacted us through this website, and who continues to contact us to share still more information.

    This is a highly valuable endeavour, that so many of us, who cherish stories about days gone by, are actively engaged in, together.


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