Call this a work in progress. Also, expect this category to be revisited. With those two caveats out of the way, we’ll begin with this thought:
In one sense, this post is similar to the Works of Fiction instalment. The difference is that these famous names belonged, or belong, in some cases, to real people. The names mostly come from one branch or another of the entertainment industry; they go back almost a century, so they usually ring a bell with a volume that varies with the age of the citizen who reads them on the signpost. In one or two cases we suspect the sound has grown very faint, but in several cases, more than one generation counts a street’s namesake as part of their own cultural history.
Take Shatner Gate out in the Hazeldean-Katimavik region of Kanata for instance. Built in the early 1980’s, it was almost certainly named for actor William Shatner. His career as an actor began with the CBC, and it took him from his native Montréal to Ottawa, before sending him west to California and from there, of course, to the bridge of the USS Enterprise.
He’s not the only actor referenced on our street plan. There’s also Pickford Drive, named for the Academy Award-winner born as Gladys Louise Smith and buried as Mary Pickford, that street being directly connected by Shatner Gate to Eagleson Road. Genevieve Bujold gets her own Crescent as well, a little way to the northwest.
Also, one can find Lorne Greene Way near Britannia Bay. Greene, brought by his parents into the worlds as Lyon Himan Green, was definitely a child of Ottawa, making his own name as the CBC radio newscaster nicknamed “the Voice of Doom” during World War Two before making his well-remembered way into Hollywood as an actor, with occasional efforts in music as well.
In Greene’s case, the reasons for the decision for the naming – actually a name change – are particularly well documented. Owing to a realignment of Greenview Avenue in the mid-1970’s to connect Britannia Park with Carling Avenue, the portion of Greenview starting at Howe Street and ending just after intersecting Don Street was “hived off”. Consideration of the rules for street names in light of the needs of the emergency response systems came into play, and according to city hall records from April 2005, there was some argument between the residents of the north and south segments of Greenview with the southern segment unwilling to relinquish the rights to that name.
Someone – we hope to discover exactly who – remembered that Lorne Greene had actually lived in the northern section before going off to seek his Hollywood fortunes. City Hall, seeing an opportunity to remedy the safety issue while also honouring one of Ottawa’s more famous emigres, jumped in with motion 41/3 of the council session of October 12, 2005 to settle the matter. That vote –moved by councilor Alex Cullen — passed 12-6, and Bylaw 2005-478 was enacted fourteen days later.
Since we’re talking about actors, it won’t do to leave a playwright out of the discussion, especially when he’s the most famous of them all. Shakespeare Street can be found in today’s Vanier, Eastview as it used to be called. It was initially known as “First Avenue”, back when Eastview was still independent of Ottawa. The name change first appeared on maps of the region published in 1926, perhaps to avoid confusion with the Glebe district’s own First Avenue.
As for musicians, there is Vickers Way for opera fans, Lightfoot Place for folkies, and Bachman Terrace for arena rockers. They are all located in the Hazeldean-Katimavik section of old Kanata, right along with the Shatner Gate and Pickford Drive. None of those musicians ever lived here, but all found a place in the hearts of a number of Kanata residents.
Figure skaters are represented via Stojko Street in the middle Fallingbrook section of Orléans, built in the late 1990’s and first appearing in Pathfinder Maps’ Ottawa-Hull Plus 1999.
Even beauty pageants get a name-check, via Miss Ottawa Street, just off the Montreal Road-Ogilvie Road intersection.
But the most well-known celebrity street name in the minds of most people in the Ottawa region – and the minds of quite a few outside our city as well – remains that which we promised to return to in that discussion of musicians earlier: Paul Anka Drive.
Planned out as early as 1973 according to minutes of City Council as far back as April of that year as part of what was then being called the “Western Community” development, but not officially on the commercial street maps until 1975, Paul Anka Drive was built in the far western end of the Hunt Club District from lands annexed by Ottawa from Gloucester back in 1950, along with the former Bannermount. It was named in honour of the chart-topping crooner whose career at that point had spanned close to two decades. And Anka had certainly lived in Ottawa from birth through early adulthood, before making his break in New York at age 17 with a hit song for which he is still best known, “Diana”.
Investigation into who first proposed the naming of that street, when and why continues…along with future additions to this particular list!
Streetsign photos by Dwight Williams