A Major Park is Opening in Mississauga

Park season is here (although you could probably argue it never left, especially if you enjoy winter hiking and biking) and you might be looking for a new outdoor destination that'll let you catch some sun, enjoy the shade and walk a scenic trail.

If you're into parks and natural spaces—especially natural spaces with historical elements—you might have heard of the Hancock Woodlands. The Cooksville area park, located off of Camilla Road near The Queensway, has been closed to the public for some time, but is slated to reopen in August.

As of now, the park is still under construction and crews are working to complete a host of new amenities, including a natural playground, a unique tree garden, an urban orchard, rain gardens, walking pathway loops, shade shelter and perennial and ornamental grass displays. The property spans 2.727 hectares (6.738 acres) and boasts 1.309 hectares (3.235 acres) of wooded space full of naturalized plants and trees.

According to the City of Mississauga, the park is being rejuvenated in partnership with The Riverwood Conservancy and Ecosource Canada.

But while the park is being reinvigorated and filled with a slew of shiny new features, it's actually something of a historical property. According to the city, the property was owned and operated as a commercial nursery by the Hancock family from 1930 until 2010, at which time the city acquired the land for the park.

The Hancock family is fairly iconic, boasting enormous influence on Canada's horticultural industry by pioneering the Rhododendron project in the country. They also received international acclaim for their contributions to landscape architecture and urban planning.

According to the city, the property has been continuously occupied by members of the Hancock family since Leslie and Dorothy Hancock—who met in Nanking, China in 1923—first took it on in the first part of the 20th century. The property was home to the couple and their three children, Macklin, Don and Marjorie. Even now, family members continue to occupy three residences adjacent to the nursery property.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, the nursery slowly expanded with the additions of the outbuildings, including the shed, the header house (1936), and three glass roofed greenhouses (1937). According to the city, the shed and greenhouses were bermed into the sandy ridge, providing natural cooling and installation throughout the year.

Interestingly enough, the park also ties in with Mississauga partnership with Japan. According to the city, the Hancock's hired a number of Japanese-Canadians to work at the nursery between 1943 and 1947. The family converted the Header House into a makeshift dormitory to house the people forced out of British Columbia during WWII. The Header House is actually one of the last remaining examples of a building that housed Nisei Japanese in Ontario during that era.

The park should be open to the public late this summer.

Stay tuned for more opening details!

Photos and information courtesy of City of Mississauga

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