Tuesday, July 13, 2004

street names

[written July 13/04]

I’ve been thinking about street names. In the 19th century, many of Toronto’s mundane or utilitarian street names were lost in a kind of obeisance to the British aristocracy: Lot Street (what could be more mundane than that?) became Queen Street, Hospital Street became Richmond Street.

In the first half of the 20th century, particularly in the years after each world war, it was common to name streets after generals or perhaps battles. Toronto has no fewer than three Byng avenues (named after the British general in command of the Canadian Army Corps at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, arguably the most important overseas battle in Canadian history, and then Governor General during a constitutional crisis), a Currie Avenue (named after Canada’s first full General), and a Dieppe Avenue and Park.

During my lengthy work-outs this weekend in the Niagara Peninsula I was contemplating this when I ran along Jellicoe Avenue (presumably named after John Jellicoe, commander of the Grand Fleet during the Battle of Jutland) in the small industrial city of St Catharines - soon followed by Evangelista Court. I wondered: named after Linda Evangelista, St Catharines' most famous native?

In Hamilton, Crerar Park was renamed Mahoney Park. Harry Crerar was a somewhat egotistical Canadian general who was viewed heroically at the close of World War II. Still he was an important figure, G.O.C. 1st Canadian Army and so on. And now his name is lost to the children of Barton Street.


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