Alison Garwood Jones

Street talk

October 31, 2011

I’ve often wondered the origin of street names in Toronto, especially when I have work to do. If you’re looking for a distraction too, here’s some trivia:

Queen Street: Named after HRH Queen Victoria. Formerly called Lot Street.

King Street: Another royal road, King Street was named after King George III, but has also at one time or another been called Palace Street and Duke Street. And, yes, that’s Mad King George or the same King George who lost America.

Roncesvalles Ave: Now pot-hole free and bike-friendly, Roncey was named after a battle in Spain (1813) by Colonel Walter O’Hara, who also boasts a west end street in his name. Sorauren Avenue stands for another battle in Spain (1815). Nothing about either street feels Iberian.

Brock Ave: named after James Brock, cousin of Sir Isaac Brock, the administrator of Upper Canada killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights.

Jameson Ave: Named after Robert Sympson Jameson, lawyer, politician, judge, blah, blah, blah, and not half as interesting as his estranged wife, Anna Brownwell Jameson, noted author of Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada and Characteristics of Women. When Robert was named Chief Justice of the province of Upper Canada, Anna was summoned from England to Canada. The marriage, already in trouble, spiraled further when hubby forgot to meet Anna in New York for the trip up to Canada. She bushwacked her way north to Toronto alone through the snow, no doubt writing entire books in her head during the struggle.  The marriage ended, but her love of writing and hiking only grew. Today, Anna’s a rock star in literary circles, championed by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Charlotte Gray. The street might as well be named after her.

Landsdowne Ave: Named after Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquis of Landsdowne and GG of Canada from 1845-1927. Incidentally, he looked like a Russian Bolshevik with his fur hat and giant, black mustache.

Source: Parkdale in Pictures, Toronto Public Library Board, 1991.


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