Did Winnipeg name any streets after Titanic victims?
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/04/2022 (298 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Later this month, on April 15, is the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland. It has often been said that several Winnipeg streets were named for local victims in the aftermath of the tragedy — but that does not appear to be the case.
Of the nearly 1,500 people who died that night, at least 10 had strong Manitoba connections. Another 16 were immigrants, in some cases entire families, who listed this province as their final destination but never set eyes on their new homeland.
Two streets are, indeed, named for people who went down on the Titanic, but they existed long before the tragedy.
Borebank Street, for instance, is named after John J. Borebank, a Toronto businessman who came to Winnipeg around 1902. He got into the lucrative real estate business and in 1904 began selling residential lots in Fort Rouge through his company, Howey and Borebank. It is around this time that Borebank Street was created.
John Hugo Ross, who was travelling with Borebank, was also a prominent local real estate developer. He was the son of Arthur Wellington Ross, who once owned much of what we know today as Fort Rouge.
As the area was subdivided for residential development, several its streets were named for this branch of the Ross family. Wellington Crescent after Arthur’s middle name, Jessie Avenue was his wife, Gertrude was a daughter who died in childhood, and Aynsley (which was later renamed Arbuthnot) and Hugo were their two sons.
Hugo Street first appears in local newspapers in 1899.
It is sometimes said that Graham Avenue in downtown Winnipeg was named for Titanic passenger George E. Graham, head of the T. Eaton Company’s china department, who was returning from an international buying trip.
In fact, Graham Avenue dates to around 1894 and was named for a former Hudson’s Bay Company chief factor and company executive named James A. Graham.
The only Titanic victim who appears to have had a street named for him, albeit more than 60 years after his death, was Mark Fortune.
Fortune, best known for financing the construction of the Avenue Building and Fortune Block, was returning from a European vacation with his wife, son, and three daughters. The women were rescued but Mark and Charles went down with the ship. It was Robert, the only Fortune child who did not join them, who spent days searching Halifax’s temporary morgues to identify the bodies.
Fortune Street, however, did not exist until after 1965 and prior to 1976 when the first of the 15 houses on it were constructed.
To find the names of Winnipeg’s Titanic victims, don’t consult a map — look underground!
On Dec. 18, 1912, a city-commissioned commemorative tablet was erected in the main corridor of the old “gingerbread” city hall. It is now displayed in the basement of the council building of the present city hall.
What's in a Street Name?
Christian Cassidy believes that every building has a great story - or 10 - to tell.