Unbuilt Peel: What could have been

Taking inspiration from Mark Osbaldeston’s Unbuilt Toronto books, the Peel Archives is currently showcasing records documenting never-realized planning and building initiatives within the Peel area. The exhibition, now open in the Archives’ Reading Room, reveals a wide range of fascinating possibilities of what could have been.

Unbuilt Peel allows visitors to let their imaginations soar, contemplating “alternative universes” where different municipalities, buildings, and public transportation options exist.

Some of the alternative visions include:

  • Light Rail Transit trains (LRTs) crisscrossing Mississauga, running along Erin Mills Parkway, Hurontario Street, and Burnhamthorpe Road
  • Peel residents visiting a massive mega-mall & amusement park near Pearson Airport
  • Conservation officials constructing a dam and large recreational lake north of Bolton
  • Blue Jays fan travelling all over the GTA to Mississauga to watch home games at the Trillium Dome
  • An Eglinton Avenue subway line connecting Square One & Hurontario Street to downtown Toronto
  • Mississauga’s city hall shaped like what can only be described as a flowerpot castle, and a series of elevated walkways throughout the downtown Brampton core
  • An amalgamated City of Peel replacing the dissolved municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon

 

Clockwise from top left: Proposal for an amalgamated City of Peel, officials unveiling a model of the proposed “Trillium Dome,” and an artistic depiction of a proposed light rail transit system.

 

These and other never-realized ideas are reconstructed from a range of records in the Archives at PAMA, including Planning Department/Board reports, council minutes, Clerk’s office correspondence, newspapers, site plans, and photographs of architectural models.

During our research we identified a large number of potential unbuilt projects. However, space limitations in the Reading Room forced us to focus on a select few projects.  For those interested in this subject we have populated an online map with details about the projects included in the physical exhibition, as well as others noted during our research. The online map is available here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zWgf7tyiQ7dI.kmO9UykTFf-0

Screenshot of Unbuilt blog

Screenshot of online Unbuilt Peel map

This exhibition reveals the untapped potential of the records in our care – researchers may not know about our rich government holdings, including Planning board reports and council and committee records. These records often offer fascinating insights into the hopes and dreams of area residents.  As an archives we not only document worlds that were, but also worlds that could have been.

The curation of Unbuilt Peel was a team affair with Reprographics Specialist Nick Moreau, Archivist Samantha Thompson, and myself working together to tell the story of these tantalizing unrealized projects.  Nick diligently chased down leads, located relevant material, digitized records, and provided fantastic graphics support.  Samantha provided invaluable insight into the layout, conducted research, and designed a most innovative display showcasing some of the proposed Mississauga City Hall designs.  I extend my most heartfelt thanks to both of them for all of their hard work

I also want to thank Archives Assistant Kristen Young and our team of volunteers for their additional research support.

Kyle Neill, Senior Archivist

4 responses to “Unbuilt Peel: What could have been

  1. How quick we forget about what might have been , happy that a lot of it didn’t get built, sad that some of it didn’t , a subway to downtown, wow! How cool

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    • Thanks Chris! We too were struck by how different things could have been if even fairly minor decisions had gone differently. The world we take for granted is one of many realities that could have been!

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  2. As someone who enjoys alternate history science fiction, and in general has always mused about ‘what-might-have-beens’, I have enjoyed your Unbuilt Peel exhibition at the Archives, and have appreciated the even more in-depth exhibit stored at Google. Thanks!

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    • That’s great to hear, Will! Archival planning records really make us think about how many contingencies go into making the world we take for granted, and how easily things could have been so different.

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