By Albert Peres
Vera Etheridge was born in 1915 in brick farm house which was located on what is now Codlin Drive in Malton. The street once formed the driveway of the house. Vera had a younger sister and brother. Both siblings have passed away. Doris lived 1919 to 2006 and Earl Codlin, her younger brother and long-time employee of Orenda, lived in Malton from 1923 to 2003.
Vera’s father, Fred Codlin (1882-1959), owned the farm on which most of current day Malton is built. Fred’s father, Thomas Codlin (1838-1918), owned the farm before him. Thomas’ father, John Codlin (1800-1848), had moved in to the area after arriving in Canada and first settling in the area which is now Etobicoke.
The area of what is now Mississauga, including Malton, was official purchased from the Mississauga Indians in 1818. The area, beyond the demarcation point called at the time Indian Line, now Hwy 50, then started to become settled within the concession divisions after tracts of land were parceled out to new settlers. The yet to be named area was slowly cleared and cultivated. A scattering of farm houses were built, set far back from roughed in and very soft dirt roads. The first homes were timber structures.
In the early days, the settlers raised livestock, mostly cattle, horses and hay. Horses were sold as they were at the time main means of transportation. Hay was required for feed. Hogs, sheep and chicken were also raised for sale, as well as vegetables and fruits. In the early 1800’s it took a farmer four hours of hard trekking by horse and wagon to get goods to the Toronto market and more than an hour to reach the next village of Brampton.
The area was fertile and viable farms formed. During the 1820’s a fledgling village started along the road. Soon there were three blacksmiths shops, a general store, a harness maker, a small wood mill and other small businesses.
Malton Village had started to bloom when the then new Grand Trunk Railroad placed a new station in the area. A village of streets was marked out around the railroad tracks 1855 when the newly formed region, Toronto Township, subdivided part of an allotment into a field of building lots to attract farm workers to the area. Many of these small lots were unpurchased at the time. This area, north of Derry Road and east of Airport Road, is what we today call Old Malton. The village was named by one of the early residents, a blacksmith, after his father’s birth place in England.
The station was located right in the centre of the residential lots, located on the current tracks between York and Hull Street. Scarboro Street actually split the station into two platforms. One side of was reserved for passengers and the other for goods and livestock. The railroad line extended from Toronto to Sarnia. This quickly boosted the local economy. Malton grew quickly and became a small agricultural centre as the regions farmers could now send fresh goods, including fresh milk and eggs to Toronto every day of the week, and pick up passengers or hardware and household goods shipped from across the province and country.
The Codlin Farm was on the other side Sixth Line (Airport Road) and Vera’s forefather’s farm too began to thrive. A growing Toronto created a growing demand for goods especially the types of wheat and fresh goods being produced. Malton lost out to Brampton in its bid to keep the County Seat of Government in 1867 and when a new railroad branch also connected the Villages Dixie and Streetsville, directly to markets, the traffic to Malton Village declined a little bit. It never grew into a true regional main street commercial centre, as did the villages of Brampton to the North and Streetsville to the East.
Vera’s father, Fred Codlin, grew up during the down turn and he made what proved to be a very wise decision. In addition to running the farm he became a dealer of farming implements for McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company. The company later formed into International Harvester. Farming was becoming mechanized. The dealership grew with the farms in the area.
The business did well enough for Vera parents to purchase a car. It was the first car in Malton. The Ford Model T was built by Ford Motor Company from 1908 to 1927. When Bell workers rented part of the Codlin’s farm while installing poles, lines and telephones, in the area during WWI, the Codlin house was wired to the exchange and so the family also hold the record of having the first private residential phone installed in Malton. McBride’s General Store holds the record of being the commercial business in Malton to have a public phone. A big magneto phone, complete with phone box, was wired into the store in a decade earlier in 1906.At the time the phone was one of only 37 in the Weston Exchange.
When Vera was born in 1915, Canada was at war. WWI engaged the country and especially farmers. The ‘Fight, or Farm to Feed a Nation’ debate was raging. Young men from across the country were soon to be conscripted. A number of farmer’s sons and farm hands had already enlisted from the Malton area. The push for productivity on farms with fewer hands helped the Fred’s business. A transition in farming was taking place.
Vera grew up between the wars. The Malton grew steadily. One of the most active churches in the area, the Malton Methodists Church, was a focal point holding socials, bazaars and festivals. The community also started the Malton Dramatic Society and in during the winter one farmer regularly flooded a field to form a skating rink.
In 1925 the Methodists amalgamated with four Protestant denominations to form The United Church of Canada. The Codlin family purchased bricks when new church building for the Malton for the congregation. Vera, like her mother Mable, was a stalwart member. Both were volunteers, sang for the choir, helped with weddings and funerals, and with fundraising.
‘Vera is a lady. I can’t say a bad word about her,’ said one of the visitors at her birthday. She had known Vera for over sixty years.
In 1925, when Vera was 20 years old, the land for what is Pearson Airport is located was purchased. The airfield was an amalgamation of a number of farms and the road running by Malton was soon renamed to Airport Road.
A small meeting hall had been built in Malton at Burlington and Studley Street. In the early 30’s it was refurbished building, was renamed the Malton Police Village Hall. Malton had been reformed into a Police Village. The village was given the some powers to create local by-laws.
Fred Codlin ran and was elected to become of the first Village Trustees.
Many organisations formed in Malton during the 1930’s, including The Horse Show Association, The Agricultural Association, and The Horticultural Society. The building became a centre for community.
During WWII in 1942 when the aircraft industry rapidly started and blossomed in Malton around the airport area, The Government of Canada expropriated much of Fred Codlin’s farm to build a then new part of Malton. The fields off Airport Road were taken over to build a new Victory Village to house aircraft workers. By this time many workers had also purchased the all the available lots in the older part of the Village. A phase construction was started and 200 military-style houses were built for war-time workers. In patriotic fashion the Victory Village streets all had war-related or moral boosting names; Victory Crescent, McNaughton Avenue (after Andrew McNaughton, commander of the Canadian Forces in the UK), Churchill Avenue (after Sir Winston Churchill) and Lancaster Drive (the Avro Lancasters were built at Victory Aircraft in Malton from 1943 to 1945). A new small two room school was built in the Village and Victory Hall was added years later.
In 1942 Vera moved into one of these small houses with her new husband John Ethridge. She was 27. Vera was recruited to be the landlady of the subdivision. She collected the rents and organised the maintenance. John served in the Royal Canadian Navy and both later joined the Malton Legion Branch 528 where Vera served with the Ladies Auxiliary.
After WWII, when the houses were sold to the occupants and veterans, Vera joined the Public School Board, where she rose to become an executive secretary. She remained in the position until she retired.
Her parents, Fred and Mable Codlin lived in the original farmhouse until they passed away and then the structure was torn down to make way the new Ridgewood subdivision which was built in the mid-1950s.
The Ridgewood subdivision (Justine Drive, Capricorn Crescent, Michaud Avenue, Honeysuckle Avenue, Sonja Road, Minotola Avenue, Etude Drive, Lipomanis Drive, Cambrett and Hermitage Road) was originally called ‘Malton Defence Homes Subdivision’ and it was marketed directly to employees of Avro Canada Ltd.and Orenda Engines. The Marvin Heights subdivision was built soon after.
Vera has out lived her husband. He passed away in 1987. She lived independently and happily in her small house on at the end of McNaughton Avenue until it was purchased by the Region of Peel to accommodate the widening of Airport Road.
Vera loves music and musical theatre. She was an independent lifelong automobile driver, driving to music and theatre performances until the age of 92 when her niece Ann Barclay, her brother Earl’s daughter, finally convinced her to give up her car. Vera purchased a condominium but this proved to be too isolating. She then moved into to a renovated room in Ann’s house.
Over seventy relatives, visitors, well-wishers, and neighbours both old and new came out to spend the day with Vera and celebrate her 100th birthday. Many lifelong residents of Malton were there.
A few Malton residents have reached a century over the years. Vera celebrated the event with her family and lifelong friends in beautiful big room full of warmth and light, 200 yards from the location of the house where they were born. Congratulations and Happy 100th Birthday Vera Etheridge.
Vera Etheridge celebrates her 100th birthday. She was born in a farmhouse in Malton. Vera is daughter of Fred Codlin. The Codlin Family farm was one of the farms that stood where Malton is today.