Previously, the intersection of Mulder and Scully in Orléans opened up the discussion of streets in Ottawa named for fictional characters and places. But that’s not the only discussion it can open for us here. There’s a second trend it brings to our attention, and that’s the practice of naming streets for places, people and things of distinctly American origin.
After some investigation, one can safely conclude that the practice goes back at least fifty or sixty years. Possibly further than that, but readers will have to judge for themselves on that point.
Among the other examples found after some cursory exploration and research:
At least eight streets in the Fallingbrook South section of Orléans are taken from American racetracks: Sacramento, Hialeah, Northlands, Northampton, Solano, Pocono, Oaklawn and Sunland. These names were originally suggested by the development firm Coscan for use in one section of the Bridlewood neighbourhood in Kanata in 1987. Owing to Kanata City Hall’s standing policy of seeking names of Canadian origin wherever possible, these names were deemed unsuitable there. Hence, one suspects, their appearance on streets in what were then the southern reaches of the Cumberland Urban Area portion of Orléans.
Dating back to 1997, there’s Central Park, a relatively recent addition to the pre-Amalgamation city of Ottawa – not to be confused with the park of the same name in the Glebe – hived off from lands formerly held by the Central Experimental Farm and developed largely by Ashcroft Homes. Most of the streets’ names there are of a uniform theme, centred on the city and state of New York: Central Park itself forms the namesake of the “main drag”, with side streets like Fordham, Rutgers, Manhattan, Bloomingdale, Staten, Grammercy, Gotham and Trump filling out the roster. It’s been slowly filling in over the past decade and a half, with at least one or two new condominium-apartment developments left to be built.
(You may well imagine my personal amusement at finding “Gotham” in Ottawa. But we digress…)
Going back eastward across the city and about thirty or so years earlier in the city’s history, we find these states represented in the Guildwood Estates section of Alta Vista as developed by Garand Homes: Louisiana, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, Michigan and Connecticut. Utah and Ohio are represented in the side streets branching off from Bank Street, where the borders of Billings Bridge and Alta Vista meet, and Maryland in the Rideau View district just within walking distance of Hog’s Back Falls.
Looking back, it doesn’t look like these were a planned series of events. There doesn’t seem to be a specific policy of the various municipalities that existed before Amalgamation that we’re aware of, aside from Kanata’s Canadian-content policy as detailed earlier. This collection of street names is just a historical fact that Ottawa’s stumbled into over the course of the past half-century or so.
Whether or not we want to keep going with this particular accidental habit – and the reasoning behind the choice we end up making – is another matter.