Anecdote, urban legend, sometimes even myth: we don’t usually associate such descriptors with the street map of our city, but there is a story behind each and every street name we encounter in our daily navigations.
And with over seven thousand of them now in use, there is a rich store of narrative to be revealed by exploring the history behind Ottawa’s street names. They are a unique insight into what the builders of our city held most dear, and a lens through which we can see how our civic culture has changed and adapted since Bytown was just a village straddling the last set of locks on the Rideau Canal.
The names themselves come from many sources: history, the sciences, celebrities, geography, and even pop-culture.
Over the next few months, we’re going to delve into the meaning behind some of our street names, both familiar and obscure. We hope to uncover a few surprises along the way.
In the meantime, if you have a suggestion or two for streets whose names you’ve always wondered about, let us know — we’d love to do some digging for you.