View Full Version : Signs of its times return in Garneau

19-07-2007, 06:30 AM
Signs of its times return in Garneau
Historic names restore area's links to its past as a separate town

Jason Markusoff, The Edmonton Journal
Published: July 19, 2007 2:20 am

The Crudens have been invited to the first barbecue held at Griesbach Avenue and Garneau Street in 100 years.

The reason for the long wait isn't that the block is unhip, or totally vegetarian. It's just that those street names haven't existed since 1906.

But now they're back on corner street posts in Garneau, as part of the neighbourhood's new push to preserve its heritage.
New street signs in Garneau include the original and numeric names of each road.

Frances and David Cruden proudly show off their invitation, fretting slightly at the inclusion of the corner's still-official numbered identity -- 85th Avenue and 111th Street -- to assist the unaware, or the directionally challenged.

"We both grew up in London. You learn to deal with it," Frances laughs, pointing out the London-A-to-Z map book she uses whenever she visits the number-free, mazelike metropolis across the Atlantic.

In late June, city staff began installing the new signs in Garneau, a $20,000 project funded by the community league. The black-and-white markers feature the numeric names in big print, and their old Strathcona/South Edmonton monikers -- such as Rouleau, Walter and Duggan -- in smaller type underneath.

Edmonton became one humongous numbered grid in 1914, shortly after it merged with Strathcona, its neighbour across the river. But even a few years before that, Strathcona started its own number system, in which 109th Street was actually 5th, historic maps show.

Confused? As the new Garneau signs attest, you can simply call it Antony Street, which is a nod to the patron saint of nearby St. Anthony's Church.

However, all mail and other official uses must still refer to the numeric names. City officials consider the heritage names mere nicknames, although some Garneau residents wish the grid system would become a historic relic.

"I was never really comfortable being numbered," says Nina Jackson.

"Anybody who lives in the neighbourhood, well, they think it's the coolest. Others are just jealous."

Part of what gives Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver neighbourhoods their character is memorable street names, community league executive Mark Wilson says -- such as Spadina, Saint-Laurent or Cambie.

"It makes it a little more personal to have a name rather than a numbered street," says the born Garneauvian (as Wilson puts it).

"I mean, a number means nothing, really. But I think you can garner an attachment to an area if your street is named."

Even in numeric, easy-to-navigate Edmonton, the most characteristic streets have names.

Few Edmontonians or outsiders talk about the city's hopping "82nd Avenue." People trying to revitalize 118th Avenue are using its nickname, Alberta Avenue.

And having seen the numerological nightmare of the twists and cul-de-sacs in Mill Woods, Castle Downs and other suburbs, newer neighbourhoods such as Terwillegar Towne or Blackmud Creek have named their roads.

Garneau stretches between Rutherford (112th) and Duggan (106th) streets and from the river bank to South (University) Avenue. The leafy enclave houses an eccentric mix of families, academics, professionals and retirees living among hipsters and student renters, and a clutch of frat houses.

The Garneau's longtime homeowners have an activist and protectionist streak, having fought several battles over the years with the University of Alberta, and boast their own "Preserve Garneau" website.

Residents first lobbied city hall to bring back the historic names in the mid-1980s. When city officials rejected the request as a possible problem for emergency services, the community league installed blue nameplates on corner houses instead.

But since then, Rossdale got the city's blessings to erect similar street signs, while parts of Westmount and McCauley have historical street names embedded in their sidewalks.

Frances Cruden had already helped determine the old Garneau street monikers two decades ago, but this time she and her husband, a history buff, researched the origins of each name. Some were easily recognizable, such as those that honour Alberta's first premier Alexander Rutherford or journalist-politician Frank Oliver. For others, the Crudens had to rely on history books, notably the recent Naming Edmonton.

"We're not in the 'certainly' business, so there was a lot of 'possibly' and 'probably,' " said David Cruden. "Were we professional historians, we'd be certain."

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The stories behind some of the Garneau area's historic street names:

- 89th Avenue a.k.a. Legal Avenue -- Monsignor Emile-Joseph Legal was Edmonton's first Roman Catholic archbishop.

- 88th Avenue a.k.a. Fabre Avenue -- Monsignor Eduard Charles Fabre, the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Montreal, welcomed Franciscans back to Canada in 1890 after a long ban.

- 86th Avenue a.k.a. Oliver Avenue -- Frank Oliver was an MLA in the North West Territories, before Alberta existed, and founder of the Edmonton Bulletin.

- 85th Avenue a.k.a. Griesbach Avenue -- A.H. Griesbach was superintendent of the North West Mounted Police post at Fort Saskatchewan.

- Whyte Avenue -- Sir William Whyte was an executive of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which surveyed and named roads in that part of South Edmonton.

- 81st Avenue a.k.a. Anderson Avenue -- Landowner and government land agent T.A. Anderson (aka Timber Tom) tried to relocate the Edmonton land office to South Edmonton.

- 80th Avenue a.k.a. Rouleau Avenue -- Named after Charles Borromee Rouleau, a judge of the Supreme Court of the North West Territories.

- University Avenue a.k.a. South Avenue -- The southern boundary of South Edmonton.

- 112th Street a.k.a. Rutherford Street -- Alexander Cameron Rutherford, a lawyer and Alberta's first premier, bought land in Garneau for his mansion.

- 111th Street a.k.a. Garneau Street -- Laurent Garneau owned land in the area that now bears his name. He settled in Strathcona after serving as a soldier in Manitoba's Red River Uprising.

- 108th Street a.k.a. Walter Street -- John Walter, the first settler on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan, strung the first ferry cable across river at Fort Edmonton, west of where Walterdale Bridge is now located.

- 107th Street a.k.a. West Street -- Origins unknown, although 106th Street was once called East Street, so the two may have been part of a trail down to John Walter's ferry.

- 106th Street a.k.a. Duggan Street -- J.J. Duggan was a mayor of Strathcona.

Source: research by Frances and David Cruden

© The Edmonton Journal 2007


19-07-2007, 07:06 AM
It would be interesting to read transcripts of the council meetings of 100 years ago to revisit the arguments that resulted in the adoption of the numeric grid.

19-07-2007, 08:30 AM
I did find out when this method was chosen..

On April 6, 1914, a plebiscite was passed that declared that numbers were to be used as street designations in the city. 101 Avenue (Jasper) and 101 Street were to be considered the centre of Edmonton.

19-07-2007, 10:23 AM

What's the process of getting a street name?

For several years I have wanted 103 Ave from 109 st to City Hall (101st) revert to the original name of Peace Ave.


19-07-2007, 11:18 AM
If I were to operate another storefront in the city I would insist on being on a numbered street.

I have had the misfortune of a named street address and am totally against this push to go back to an archaic dysfunctional system of identifying location.

My response now when hearing an address with a named street or a building whose name I don't recognize is: "I guess they don't want me to know where that is. They don't want me as a customer."

19-07-2007, 12:01 PM
love named streets!

19-07-2007, 12:27 PM
love named streets!
Oh, you're just saying that because you like to argue with me. :wink:

19-07-2007, 01:43 PM
and I Love Named Streets!

19-07-2007, 01:51 PM
If I were to operate another storefront in the city I would insist on being on a numbered street.

I have had the misfortune of a named street address and am totally against this push to go back to an archaic dysfunctional system of identifying location.

My response now when hearing an address with a named street or a building whose name I don't recognize is: "I guess they don't want me to know where that is. They don't want me as a customer."

I agree. Grid numbers tell you where you are and where you are going. A few named streets are fine, particularly when they are major roads that don't go exactly north-south or east-west, but once you exceed the capacity of the average person to remember them all you have gone too far. Garneau can put up historical signs all it wants, but if someone tries to give me an address without numbers my response will be "where the heck is that?" There is logic to a numbered grid, names are completely arbitrary and meaningless to anyone who's not a rabid history buff.

06-09-2007, 09:03 AM
City aims to replenish bank of names for streets
A shortage of certain popular ones, like those beginning with 'G,' irritates developers

Gordon Kent, The Edmonton Journal
Published: September 06, 2007 1:50 am

What's in a name? That which we'd call Gallyon or Grisdale by any other name wouldn't sound as sweet, a planning consultant says.

Senior planner Bob Spooner of the IBI Group unsuccessfully appealed Wednesday against a decision by the city naming committee to reject 18 street names proposed by the developer for the new Granville subdivision in west Edmonton.

The company wants to continue the medieval English theme used in adjoining Glastonbury when construction starts next year on Granville, located along 215th Street between Whitemud Drive and 62nd Avenue.

But road names must come from a reserve list compiled to honour people who are extraordinary volunteers, risked their lives to save others, fought discrimination, or brought special credit to the city.

The list can also commemorate local plants, animals, geography and historical events.

While council's executive committee rejected the appeal, members were concerned several Granville streets could share the same name, such as Gillese Way and Gillese Close, because there aren't enough names starting with "G" left on the list.

Coun. Bryan Anderson called this multiple method of designating streets "asinine," saying it's awkward for people trying to find their way around an unfamiliar neighbourhood.

"They should get out and actively recruit ... a set of new approved names so we can expand the available list and get rid of, I think, the very negative situation where it could conceivably be one road name in an area and then 30 suffixes for ways to say 'road.' "

Mayor Stephen Mandel said he finds it easy to become lost in subdivisions where street names are used more than once, and prefers an intersecting grid.

Spooner said this system isn't appropriate in all areas.

He wants the naming committee given more flexibility to work with companies that have an overall marketing concept or theme for their developments, saying as Edmonton grows it's using up suitable road names.

However, city planner Mark Lawrence said the committee is looking at expanding the reserve list by asking for name suggestions from various groups and adding people chosen as Edmontonians of the Century in 2004 or using names from the cenotaph.

"There are issues that come with that, but it's not like it hasn't been given any consideration."

[email protected]

© The Edmonton Journal 2007


06-09-2007, 01:31 PM
Mayor Stephen Mandel said he finds it easy to become lost in subdivisions where street names are used more than once, and prefers an intersecting grid.

At least the man at the top has it right. So Mr. Spooner, how about 64 Avenue and 220 Street?

06-09-2007, 07:00 PM
Any road name ###A Street or curved roads are fair game to be named, imo. Like 114th Street by UofA should definitely be classed as a named road and not a numbered street.

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