I remember when Square One was a square.

My mom worked as a switchboard operator at Sears in those early days, and on Saturdays my dad would bring me along to pick her up. Past the farms that bordered the parking lot, and through the glass doors of Mississauga’s big mall.

It felt like I was in on a secret, walking past the salespeople, mannequins and unsuspecting customers to an unmarked door in the store’s back corner, behind which my mom sat. There was hardly room for me in there, but I was mesmerized, watching my mom with headset on expertly plug callers into the department of their choice via the wall-mounted switchboard, with its blinking lights, electrical cords and rows of audio jacks. ‘Sporting goods?’ Yes, just a moment, I’ll put you through.’

To my child’s eyes, it looked like my mom was at the centre of everything.

Now it’s my turn to be your guide into the back rooms, shop floors, executive suites and spotlit stages to meet some of the incredible, infamous and interesting people who have helped shape Mississauga.

People such as Mazo de la Roche, who put Canada on the international best-seller list and brought a touch of Hollywood home; developer Harold Shipp who in 1955 built Applewood Heights, the area’s first subdivision, paving the way for a city to rise; and jazz legend Oscar Peterson, who showed Canadians and the world how to swing.

Along with the stories of individual successes, we’ll also visit with groups who came together to achieve remarkable things, such as the women who worked the line at the Small Arms Building during the Second World War; the engineers, chemists and planners who helped establish Canada’s energy sector on the shores of Lake Ontario; and the high-flyers who first took us to the skies and then to the stars here in the birthplace of Canada’s aeronautics industry.

To celebrate Mississauga’s 50th anniversary this year, join me as I share stories about the people who built Canada’s 6th largest city – and I’m hoping you’ll have stories to share too.

At the end of each of our stories, I’ll include a form and invite you to share your stories and memories of the people who have influenced our city in a memorable way.I’ll include some of your memories in future stories.

In addition to the stories we’ll be running each week, later this summer, we’ll launch ‘We Built This City,’ a 10-episode podcast that will be available wherever you download your podcasts.

Together, we’ll weave a fabulous tale about the people who have helped to make Mississauga what it is today, and who have paved the way for what it will be in the future.

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