Here’s a Sunday afternoon pastime — I was walking up Broadview Ave. on that suddenly mild New Year’s Day and was reminded again how that street is named literally — it gives a broad view of the city across the Don Valley. It got me thinking about what other streets in Toronto are named in a literally descriptive way. It seems to me that they don’t make up a very large proportion of street names in Toronto, the vast majority of which seem to be named after people, unrelated locations, or words that simply evoke a pleasant place to live.
One type of literal street name describes its orientation to the water: Lake Shore Blvd., and its predecessor Front St. (which was the waterfront when it was named), plus Harbour St. There’s River St., which goes along the Don River, and Bay St., which goes to the bay.
Then there are streets whose name describes where they go to — University Ave. and College St., which go to the University of Toronto campus, and Kingston Road, which was the road to Kingston.
There’s also Parkside Drive, which goes along the side of a park. There are lots of names that mix an proper name and a description — Scarborough Heights Blvd., for example, or Baby Point Rd. (on a point) and Humberview Rd. (with a view of the Humber) — but those aren’t quite the same.
Another category of literal names could be those named after tree species — Elm, Oak — if that type of tree was dominant on the street, but I suspect in most cases the naming has more to do with creating an evocative atmosphere with which to sell real estate. Do any of our readers know, for example, if Oakridge Drive is actually along a ridge that features or once featured a lot of oaks?
There’s also the question of neighbourhoods. I grew up in a neighbourhood of Ottawa called Sandy Hill, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that it was, in fact, built on a sandy hill. The obvious Toronto one is The Beach(es), which is alongside a beach (or series of beaches, depening on where you fall in that naming battle), but there are others. I notice a neighbourhood on top of the Scarborough Bluffs called Cliffcrest, for example, and I expect Forest Hill was once, in fact, a forested hill.
According to Wikipedia, the Bridle Path name was a bit of description but probably more salesmanship — it doesn’t actually seem to have been a riding path, but was named so because one was planned. But in all likelihood the evocation of wealth that comes with horse-riding was also part of the equation. Rosedale, by contrast, was apparently actually named for the abundance of wild roses in the area, and it does in fact include dales (valleys).
I’m sure there are other literally descriptive Toronto street or neighbourhood names — what are some of the other ones?
Photo by Smaku.