Long before Oakville was founded, the land that the town now stands on was inhabited by the Mississaugas of the Credit. The Mississaugas were a nomadic tribe who lived in southern Ontario since 9000 BC, following herds of big game though areas that we now know as Hamilton and Oakville.
When European settlers arrived, they began trading supplies in exchange for furs from the Mississaugas. The settlers would give them supplies in advance – on credit – and would receive furs in the spring. Thus, the river where these transactions took place became known as the Credit River. The name “Mississauga” was also colonist-given, the Mississaugas called themselves “Anishinaabe” meaning “human beings”.
The Mississaugas’ territory spanned 3.9 million acres, but that number quickly decreased starting in the mid-1700s. The British Crown recognized that the First nations had ownership of the land, and proclaimed in 1763 that land could only be purchased from the Mississaugas by the Crown. The purchases began in 1781 with the Mississaugas Treaty at Niagara. This exchange built trust between the Mississaugas and the Crown, and the Mississaugas were confident that the Crown would respect their ownership of the land.
The Town of Oakville is part of the Head of the Lake Treaty from 1806, The Mississaugas received 1000 euros in return and retained some land and sole finishing rights at 12 and 16 mile creeks and Credit River. By 1818, these small reserves were all that remained of the Mississaugas of the credit’s land.
Two years after the purchase of their last large area of land, it was suggested to the Mississaugas that they surrender their remaining land through treaties 22 and 23. The sale was meant to help fund their education, and an area of land was to be set aside for a Mississauga village, But these sections of were sold to Europeans within the next twenty years. Recent research has suggested that the Mississaugas did not understand the terms of treaties 22 and 23, and throughout the next few years there were campaigns to reclaim their land from the Crown. Eventually, the Mississaugas relocated to their current reserve near Hagersville in 1847.
In honour of Canada’s Sesquicentennial, and in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation, Oakville has invested in some projects including the creation of the Moccasin Heritage Trail.