Street Names: Works of Fiction

The above photo was taken at a street corner in the far eastern reaches of Orléans; an obscure intersection, but of course its pop-culture reference is anything but. Yes, it’s that Mulder & Scully, the duo from The X-Files. The story of how these two nondescript suburban thoroughfares got their televisual nomenclature has been told elsewhere but their existence does raise the question – are there other Ottawa streets named after fictional characters?

Well, the fact is that the practice of naming Ottawa streets for famous fictional characters has been going on, albeit sporadically, since as far back as 1899.

This was borne out in the pages of Ottawa Past and Present by one A.H.D. Ross, published back in 1927. In Volume II of that work, there is a list of the streets and parks running ten pages in total. In those ten pages are at least three examples that predate Mulder and Scully.

Take Belmont Avenue in old Ottawa South, for example. The street itself first appears by name in the Ottawa City Directory Belmont Avenue, Old Ottawa South; source: author's Flickr collectionof 1899, which suggests that it was named in the previous year, given the lead time needed to produce those volumes in those days.

The name of Belmont seems not to have been taken from any actual person – though there are a number of candidates – but rather from a character in a play written for live theatre. Ross puts it down to “The Foundlings” by a writer named Moore. Possibly, this is actually 18th Century British playwright Edward Moore‘s work, “The Foundling”, that Ross referred to. There is in fact a “Sir Roger Belmont” among the cast of characters.

Kenilworth Avenue, Ottawa - source: author's Flickr CollectionAnd then there’s Kenilworth Street, just a few blocks north of the old Civic Hospital campus. Mr. Ross alleges that the name was taken from the title of a novel by Sir Walter Scott published in 1821. Alternatively, some might well argue for the castle of the same name as the novel. As near as can be determined from the Ottawa City Directories of the day, that street started its life back in 1921-’22, part of the westward limits of Ottawa in what was then called Dalhousie Ward.

Finally, we have Pamilla Street just to the east of Kenilworth, off Preston Street. Ross counts this as a variant spelling of the name of the title character of one of the novels of Samuel Richardson. Likely, it’s of the same vintage as Kenilworth given their proximity to each other.

So far as we know, none of the three authors Pamilla Street, Little Italy; source: author's Flickr Collectionmentioned here –or their fictive characters – ever set foot in Ottawa. But then, neither did Mulder or Scully.

3 comments

  1. Out of interest – my former boss at a local development company picked the street names for Mulder and Scully. He told me that it was his favourite show at the time. The picking of street names today is done by the developer and reviewed by the City to ensure no duplicates, easy 911 recognition, etc.

  2. There’s a Gimli Court near Merivale and Meadowlands, named after a character from The Lord of the Rings. Moria Court (another LOTR dwarf reference) is nearby. I’d guess these aren’t much older than 10-20 years but I’ve found no specific date reference.

  3. Self-correction note: As I type this, I’m looking at the 1902 Insurance Plan of the City of Ottawa(1922 reprint courtesy of then-Public Archives Canada), and as to Pamilla Street’s vintage? It was on the map as early as 1902. I’ll keep digging to see how far back that street existed…

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