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New streets names would honour city’s past

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I recently wrote about Winnipeg streets and about our city using names for streets and avenues instead of numbers like many other cities use. The only exception is the seven numbered streets on the property of the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

In 1891, according to an article published by the Manitoba Historical Society, Winnipeg streets were mostly numbered thanks to bylaw No. 502. All streets ran north and south while avenues ran east and west.

Portage Avenue and Main Street stayed intact and Notre Dame Avenue became Central Avenue and was the dividing line between north and south. McDermot Avenue became 1st Avenue North, Bannatyne was 2nd Avenue North and the numbers ran right up past Polson which was 35th Avenue North. Cumberland was 1st Avenue South. Sargent was 2nd Avenue South, Assiniboine was 10th Avenue South and Corydon 17th Avenue South.

Albert Street was 1st Street North, King was 2nd Street North, and so on. Streets running north of Central (Notre Dame) ended up at Sinclair, which was 24th Street North. On the south side of Central streets ran from Fort Street or 1st Street South all the way to Arlington or 23rd Street South. In October of 1893, just two and a half years after these changes were made, city council passed bylaw No. 703 which restored the names to our streets and avenues and did away with the numbers.

All of these names and numbers are listed in the 1891 Henderson’s City Directory, which I have not seen but I presume it is available at the Manitoba Historical Society. For a first-hand look, do an online search and type in the words "history of Winnipeg streets." There is an alphabetical listing of every Winnipeg road along with the history behind each.

It gives off a certain element of importance to have a street named after someone of distinction. Perhaps a past mayor, premier, governor general, prime minister or an early pioneer. There are streets named after disaster victims and medical researchers like Fredrick Banting and Charles Best, discoverers of insulin. There are a dozen or more streets in Winnipeg that, I believe, need renaming.

These streets were named in the early 1900s after the daughters of prominent citizens. The problem is no one knows who these prominent citizens were. The streets in question include Adelaide, Charlotte, Dagmar, Emily, Frances, Irene, Gertie, Harriet, Kate, Lydia, Olivia and Pearl.

No one can really relate to these names and one has to wonder how prominent their fathers were with no record of their surnames on file.There are some very prominent citizens from the past who are likely deserving of having a street named after them, so perhaps this would be the opportunity to honour them.

Rick Sparling is a North Kildonan-based writer.

Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in the Herald area and would like to contribute to this column, contact jim.timlick@canstarnews.com.

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