Friday, June 13, 2014

The Origin of our Neighbourhood Street Names

We’re in a very historic neighbourhood, and one of the oldest, in the city of Toronto. Our main intersection is a cross between Canada’s most famous street, and a street filled with heritage buildings illustrating the rich history of our city in just a few blocks. 

Each and every street is throwback to our city’s evolution from humble beginnings and dirt roads to skyscrapers and booming streets. We took a look into why some of our neighbourhood streets have been given their names and believe us, it’s a history lesson in itself!

Yonge Street

Toronto’s oldest and longest street has many claims to fame, but if it were still called Concession 1 or Highway 11 we don’t think it would pack the same punch! Yonge Street is named after Sir George Yonge, who was an expert on ancient Roman roads and a good friend of Ontario’s first colonial administrator John Graves Simcoe. We guess there are perks to having friends in high places!

College Street

Before the University of Toronto switched to its current name, Toronto’s most prestigious university was called King’s College and many of the buildings that made up the campus ran along what we now call College Street. We think you can figure out why!

Elm Street
Life was so simple in the early days of our city. Naming a street was as easy as identifying its most recognizable signifier! Elm Street was named after the solitary elm tree that stood at the corner of the street and Yonge Street. Although the tree has been replaced, the name stuck and Elm Street is now home to a few of Toronto’s hidden gems.

Bay Street

Bay Street is Toronto’s equivalent to Wall Street, but it didn’t get its name for being the financial hub of our city. Originally, Bay Street was known as Bear Street because of the frequent bear sightings in the early days of our city. You’d be hard pressed to find a bear walking along Bay Street today! In 1797, Bear Street was replaced with Bay Street because it connected another major Toronto throughway (Queen Street) with the bay at Toronto Harbour. Makes perfect sense to us!

Wellesley Street
Many street names are named after prominent leaders in our history. Yonge Street, although named after a person, was not named after one of Canada’s political figures, unlike Wellesley Street which was named after the 1st Duke of Wellington and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which included Canada at the time, from 1828-1830.