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What’s the Difference? Mississauga/Scarborough

June 14, 2011

Don Cherry, hockey coach and accouncer


Mike Myers, “International Man of Mystery”

Mississauga is a city of 734,000 people, on the left side of Toronto, the largest city in Canada. It is part of the Greater Toronto Area, a geopolitical region.

Scarborough is a former city, on the right side of Toronto. With a population of about 600,000, it was absorbed, or “amalgamated,” into the City of Toronto in 1998.

As suburbs, or bedroom communities, both Mississauga and Scarborough have faced the typical struggles of “little-sister” communities bordering a larger, more-powerful city.

Toronto is seen as a monolith, forcing its will on neighboring jurisdictions. For its part, Toronto tends to view cities on its outskirts as backwaters filled with uncultured, whiny bumpkins.

Unlike Scarborough, Mississauga has never officially been part of the City of Toronto.

Culture Shock

Mississauga is part of the “9-0-5” suburban belt that surrounds Toronto — communities with the Area Code 905.

These people fill many Torontonians with dread. They live on the outskirts, but use their political weight to affect what happens downtown. 905-ers vote differently, and their concerns are vastly different, from Toronto proper.

Mississauga’s most famous resident is its mayor, Hazel “Hurricane” McCallion. She celebrated an unprecedented twelfth term in 2010, at the age of 89. She won despite a legal investigation into her son’s business dealings with the city.


Celebration, City of Mississauga

Mississauga is seen as more progressive, intellectual and corporate-friendly than Scarborough. Canada’s busiest airport lies within its border. International corporations such as General Electric and Siemens maintain headquarters there.

Scarborough is the GTA’s unofficial White Trash Capital. Its economy is more manufacturing-based, compared to Mississauga. Carmakers Toyota and Honda maintain headquarters there; a GM plant closed in the 1990s.


Sailboarding below the Bluffs

Ancient Shores

Geologically, Scarborough is the more significant of the two. While the land slopes gradually down to Lake Ontario in Mississauga, the Scarborough Bluffs are internationally recognized, spectacular chalk deposits left behind by receding glaciers in the last Ice Age.

Mississauga is named for the Algonquian tribe that lived there until European settlers pushed them aside. Scarborough is named for a quaint town in England.

Rivers are significant features of both Mississauga and Scarborough. The Credit runs through Mississauga and the Rouge marks Scarborough’s eastern boundary with Pickering. Rouge Park became Canada’s largest urban park in 2011.

Both communities are among the most diverse in Canada. Scarborough neighbourhoods bear some clever nicknames as a result. These include: AsianCourt (Agincourt), Scar-lem, Scare-boro, Scar-lanka.

Scarborough has a large and active Tamil community. These are people who fled the civil war in Sri Lanka. Mississauga maintains a large Sikh population and boasts a Sikh History Museum. The annual Sikh Khalsa Day attracts some 100,000 people each year.


Welcome to the Suburbs


  • Mister-and-Mrs-Sauga
  • Scarberia

Famous People


  • Mike Myers
  • Barenaked Ladies
  • Jim Carrey
  • John Candy
  • Maestro Fresh-Wes


  • Don Cherry
  • Oscar Peterson

    Jim Carrey


“Pride in our past, faith in our future. Be strong. Be Proud.”

“Home Above the bluffs.”

What residents say:

“It’s not that bad.”

“It’s better than it used to be.”


Scarborough Bluffs and Bluffers Park

Read more What’s the Difference
Related post: Toronto: A New Motto

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