Peel Village, Fifty Years Later
By Lorna McCluskey
We see the real estate descriptions advertising Peel Village as a desirable neighbourhood. What is so desirable about Peel Village, a planned community more than fifty years old where people could live, work and have access to services conducive to living?
Located close to the southern part of Brampton close to 410 the residential area is surrounded by Steeles Avenue to the south, Main Street South to the west, Kennedy Road to the east and the northern boundary travels from Main Street South across to Kennedy in a straight line behind the homes on the south side of Nanwood, the northern parts of two churches, the south side of a school, and behind the houses on the south side of Jersey. You can tell the border on Abbey, Harper and Benton by the absence of overhead wires on the Peel Village portion.
Peel Village is larger than the residential area and is the first completely planned community that, in addition to the homes, includes industrial and commercial development covering an area of about 1,100 acres and includes about 5,000 houses, several schools, churches, a shopping mall (Shopper’s World and smaller plazas), the American Motors plant (now Lowes, Wal-Mart etc.) and apartment buildings.
The population of the Town of Brampton was less than 25,000 when Peel Village started to be built. When Peel Village was being built, it was considered to be near Brampton, not necessarily part of Brampton at that time, according to promotional material from the era and old Brampton families, but it wasn’t long until Peel Village was accepted as being part of the Town of Brampton.
Peel Village residential area was unique in many aspects when building began in the early 1960s, though the elements that made the community unique back in the early 1960s are commonplace today. It is not the first planned residential subdivision in Brampton, but it was the first to have all the utility cables buried underground, including TV. Peel Village may be the first community where Rogers installed underground television cables.
Also unique were the curving roads, to keep traffic speeds slower. You won’t find many straight portions of roadway in Peel Village, though some people manage to drive through at excessive speeds for the area frequently ignoring the stop signs, causing outcry among residents.
Peel Village residences are mostly single family houses, but the plans also included mid and high density housing. Peel Village includes townhouses and apartment buildings located on the west side of Kennedy Road south of Dean Street and on Steeles near the south-west corner of Steeles and Kennedy.
One of the attractive features of Peel Village in the early days was the closeness of the community. You could walk to a doctor or dentist or bank and shopping wasn’t far away at The Brampton Mall (Main Street South and Nanwood) or at Four Corners (Main and Queen), which was a thriving area until indoor shopping malls opened for business (namely Shopper’s World and later, Bramalea City Centre). There was also the plaza at Rambler and Kennedy and later, Steeles and Kennedy.
Peel Village, like many subdivisions, was built in stages. The houses built in phase one are the most robust since the exterior walls are built from cinder blocks, not wood frames. Later homes are built in the current style. The older homes are more modest, being smaller and having a larger variety of models including bungalows, side-splits, back-splits and two-story homes. There are higher priced larger executive homes in the first phase too.
The park in the centre of Peel Village was also a selling feature. There was a playground there from early on with a wading pool that had a fence around it. The wading pool, where many Peel Village children received their first swimming lessons, has been replaced by a splash pad, and the playground has undergone changes several times.
How has Peel Village faired over the years? The commercial and industrial areas have changed over the decades. The construction of Highway 410 has contributed to the desirability of Peel Village for easy access to 400 series highways.
While there have been exterior and interior renovations to houses in Peel Village, they remain, for the most part, as they were built. The lots are a good size. A couple of houses have been replaced, one considerably larger than the surrounding executive homes and some houses have been substantially renovated, but most still have the appearance of when they were built more than fifty years ago. It is possible (likely) more homes will be demolished and larger houses replace them in the future.
Banks have moved away and many services are not as convenient for the pedestrian. Bus routes have come and gone and been re-routed, sometimes for good and sometimes not as convenient for public transit users. Most families in Peel Village still rely on cars as primary mode of transportation.
While the demographics have changed, the heart of Peel Village remains the people who live there and make the place special. Most homes are well maintained, even if they might be dated. Former Peel Village residents who grew up in Peel Village now are scattered around the globe. A number have made their way back into the nest they grew up in.
The vision by Charles F. Watson, through Peel-Elder Limited and Peel Village Development Limited, of the planned community endures and is still strong, making the place a desirable place to live and raise a family.