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En Route: The Origin of Street Names

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Whether we realize it or not, when travelling through the streets of our towns, we are in fact travelling not only through local history, but in many cases our world history. When we ask ourselves, "What’s in a name?", we are already "en route" to discovering what binds us all today, a proud heritage in our past, whether we were born here or not.

In Verdun, for example, we can determine the inspiration for naming most of our roads like, Churchill, Lloyd-George, and Beurling Avenues, but there is just as much spirit found in the naming of our local avenues. They still hold a very rich history worth rediscovering and sharing with our own children.

In a way, allowing each of us take a "journey in time" by simply taking a walk and looking up at each corner. Acting as a kind of "personal compass" to where we live…today.

If we were to identify one citizen that stood out in the history of our streets, here in Verdun, that would be Mr. H. Henry Hadley (Jr.), Verdun’s first city engineer. Mr. Hadley (Jr.) was the son of our 5th Mayor from 1896-1899, and the grandson of one of the founding families of the village of Verdun. Starting in 1906, he became our first full time public engineer and city planner. Many Verdun streets are accredited with names from the Hadley family. Including, Ethyl Ave., named after his sister, Gertrude Ave., and Evelyn Ave. named after the remaining heirs to his father’s estate. It was his drive, and great skill as a civic engineer, that gave us our first, working sewer systems, water systems, and the streets above them. Mr. Hadley held this title for almost 50 years, with exception to a brief period away to fight in WWI. His contribution to our city, during our early years was nothing short of amazing.

Many others were honoured for their contribution to Verdun, most on a local scale, yet many playing a global role in the events of that time.

Here’s a few that have allowed us to rediscover their hidden "birthmarks."

Lasalle Boulevard - (previously Lower Lachine Road) named after Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur of Lasalle.

Wellington St. – is really a continuation of a pre-named Montreal street, it was originally named in 1815 for the Duke of Wellington for his defeat over Napoleon at Waterloo (Belgium) on June 18th, 1815.

Verdun Ave. – named for being the most central street cutting across the heart of Verdun (east to west).

Beurling Ave. – named for George "Buzz" Beurling a WWII hero and flying ace, from Verdun.

Bannantyne Ave. – named for D. J. Bannantyne, VP of the St.Pierre Land and Manufacturing Company, which originally owned most of the land between Atwater, Wellington and Lasalle Boulevard.

Church Ave. – was named in 1899, to commemorate the building of the Notre-Dame-de-Sept-Douleurs Church, as the first Roman Catholic church in Verdun.

Reille Ave.- named after Joseph Rielle, land surveyor and our Mayor from 1904-1905.

Troy Ave. – land formerly owned by our ex-mayor Joseph Allen who owned the Troy Laundry Co.

Galt Ave. – named after the man who owned the old Galt Farm, Sir A.T. Galt.

Gordon Ave. – to honour Aimee Gordon, wife of Sir A.T. Galt.

Desmarchais Blvd. – named after Julien Desmarchais, whose land was sub-divided into building lots there.

Argyle Ave. – named after the Argyle House, an old home on the riverside end of the street.

Woodland Ave. – named after the beautiful woods this street once cut through.

Egan Ave. – named after Gerald C. Egan, owner of the Egan Farm in that area.

Osbourne Ave. – named after the Osbourne Park Land Co. Ltd., which in turn was probably named for "Osbourne House," Queen Victoria’s favorite residence in the Isle of Wight, in Britain.

Beatty Ave. – named after a partner in the legal firm of Gooderham & Beatty from which the land was sold to the Osbourne Park Land Co. Ltd., for development.

Moffat Ave. – named for James Moffat, a retired merchant who lived at the corner of Lasalle Blvd.

Manning Ave. – named after Mayor Charles Manning (1915-1917).

Richard Ave. – honouring Monsignor J.A. Richard, founding priest of N. D.de Sept Douleurs, Church Ave.

Brault Ave. – named after the F.-X. Brault, farmer and Verdun City Councillor.

Godin Ave. – named after Severe Godin, one of the VP’s of Montreal Light, Heat & Power Consolidated, and owner of the subdivision of that area’s land.

Riverview Ave. – named for its actual 8-mile "Riverview" of the town of Laprairie from Verdun.

Allard Ave. – named for Casimir Allard, resident since 1898, and Verdun Alderman (1913-1933).

Leclair Ave. – named for Mayor J.A.A. Leclair (1917-1925).

Crawford Bridge Ave.- named for John Molson Crawford, one of Verdun’s founders, and owner of the farm in the area called Crawford Park. He was also our second Mayor from 1884-1892.

Lloyd George Ave. – named for the Prime Minister of Great Britain during WWI (1914-1918).

Clemenceau Ave. – named for Georges Clemenceau, a.k.a. the tiger, President of France during WWI.

Foch Ave. – named for Marshall Foch, a great leader of the Allied Forces in WWI.

Fayolle Ave. – named for Marshall Fayolle, a famous French military leader of WWI.

There are still many streets in our towns awaiting us to rediscover them. Some remain secluded, while others continue being the thoroughfares of our everyday travels. In their beginnings, these streets were well paved with smooth surfaces. They were created with the pride of the persons and places they were named for.

Today, just as Great politicians are a thing of the past, so is the pride we take in the quality of our cities’ roadways. Tourists often say, the state of the roads in any city will tell you the state of its people.

Should this be true, perhaps knowing the history of our avenues will bring back the pride we once held for our own city, when our asphalt and spiritual roads were first being paved. Until then, we can only ask ourselves, "What’s in a name?".

Not in reference to our roads, but in referring to how our own names will be remembered in our city’s history. Perhaps, only then will we be "on the road" to a future we can all again take pride in, right here in the Southwest Corner.