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At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in the 1600s, both Iroquoian- and Algonquian-speaking peoples already lived in the Credit River Valley area. One of the First Nations groups the French traders found around the Credit River area were the Algonquian Mississaugas, a tribe originally from the Georgian Bay area. The name “Mississauga” comes from the Anishinaabe word Misi-zaagiing, meaning “[Those at the] Great River-mouth”. By 1700 the Mississaugas had driven away the Iroquois, yet during the Beaver Wars they played a neutral or post-emptive role.
Toronto Township, consisting of most of present-day Mississauga, was formed on 2 August 1805 when officials from York (what is now the City of Toronto) purchased 84,000 acres (340 km²) of land from the Mississaugas. In January 2010, the Mississaugas and the federal government settled a land claim, in which the band of aboriginal people received $145,000,000, as just compensation for their land and lost income.
After the land was surveyed, the Crown gave much of it in the form of land grants to United Empire Loyalists who emigrated from the Thirteen Colonies during and after the American Revolution, as well as loyalists from New Brunswick. A group of settlers from New York City arrived in the 1830s. The government wanted to compensate the Loyalists for property lost in the colonies and encourage development of what was considered frontier.
In 1820, the government purchased additional land from the Mississaugas. Additional settlements were established, including: Barbertown, Britannia, Burnhamthorpe, Derry West, Elmbank, Malton, Meadowvale Village, Mount Charles, and Streetsville. European-Canadian growth led to the eventual displacement of the Mississaugas. In 1847, the government relocated them to a reserve in the Grand River Valley, near present-day Hagersville. Pre-confederation, the Township of Toronto was formed as a local government; settlements within were not legal villages until much later.
Except for small villages, some gristmills and brickworks served by railway lines, most of present-day Mississauga was agricultural land, including fruit orchards, through much of the 19th and first half of the 20th century.