Looking Back - The People of Caporeol
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Sunday, February 12, 2006
"Mad Cap" Frederick Capreol's recreational legacy
(Note: This item was published in the booster and sent to us by Lawrence MacDonald.)

Erindale Park is the largest park in Mississauga and we have Frederick Chase Capreol to thank. This park may be Capreol's most welcome legacy, yet it's the one landmark he never intended to create.

A businessman with more ambition than luck, Capreol came to Canada in 1829 to seek his fortune in the fur trade, only to find himself pushed out by the established firms. Then came his idea for a canal linking Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. Railways put a quick end to this project but instead of acquiescing, Capreol got into the railway business. He started a lottery to raise funds for his Northern Railway but authorities quickly shut down this illegal scam.

Down but not out, Capreol built Port Credit's first light-house in 1863, both as an aid to navigation and as a sign that Port Credit was open for business. He bought 5,700 hectares of lakefront property and formed the Peel Manufacturing Company to rent this land out to manufacturers. He failed to persuade investors.

Finally, Capreol turned his attention to the power potential of the Credit River. Taking advantage of the natural crook in the river at Erindale, Capreol planned to build a dam north of the crook to create a reservoir, and to tunnel penstocks (directly under the village, no less) to generators at the south end of the crook. He hoped to have the power plant finished in two years but his finances were not up to the challenge. Investors bought Capreol out and finished a less-ambitious dam six year later.

Ontario Hydro acquired the ailing Erindale Power Company but closed the tiny station when its huge power plant at Niagara Falls was completed, rendering Erindale surplus. Capreol's pond remained a 50-hectare derelict, but a popular swimming hole for Erindale kids. The dam began to deteriorate and, for safety's sake, was blasted away a year later. The pond drained leaving behind the lush grass-land of today's Erindale Park