It is sometimes difficult to trace the origins of street names. Clearly most Leslieville streets were named after families who lived here or after the builders who put up the houses on the street. Only a few, such as Eastern Avenue, are more or less self-explanatory. Moreover, street names changed over time. Doel became Dundas; Kingston Road became Queen Street, etc. Street names were changed because citizens requested it (as with Erie Terrace with became Craven Road) or because amalgamation with the City of Toronto led to confusing duplication of street names. A number of streets in the newly annexed areas had the same names as streets in the old City of Toronto so those streets were renamed.
Street naming went through fads and suffered at the whim of politicians. In 1905, the City of Toronto’s Street Naming Sub-Committee (all aldermen) wanted all new streets running east and west to be called ‘avenues” and all north-south routes to be called “streets”. It wanted to do away with “place” and “square”. Luckily, the expense and unpopularity of the idea stopped it from being implemented.
The Street Naming Sub-Committee was often arbitrary in its choices. Alderman renamed streets after themselves, friends, family and places they loved from “the Old Country”, sometimes at a whim. The Street Naming Sub-Committee gradually erased the term “street” and replaced it with “avenue” since “avenue” was considered more prestigious. Real estate agents preferred other “classier” terms as well, such as “road”, “boulevard” or “gardens”. Hence, Leslieville has Woodfield Road and Cherry Nook Gardens.
Agnes Lane – After Agnes Thompson, Alexander Muir’s first wife.
Alton – Alton, like Hiltz, is a Palatine German family name from Protestant refugees who fled Germany to Ireland. A family of Altons lived in Leslieville. The Palatines were mostly Methodist and came to be regarded as the enforcers of the Orange Order.
Applegrove — After the Ashbridge orchards.
Ashdale — After the Ashbridges family and the ‘dale’ or valley where a branch of the Ashbridges Creek flowed.
Athletic – This street spanned the short distance between two athletic fields: Greenwood Park and the Ulster Stadium. The steep concrete stairway at the east end of Athletic Avenue was one of the stairways of the Ulster Stadium’s grandstand. The Ulster Stadium existed from 1924 to 1945.
Audley — Formerly Victoria Avenue. In 1895 the name was changed to avoid duplication on amalgamation with the City of Toronto. Audley is a village in Staffordshire, England, and a Lord Audley was the leader of a Cornish rebellion in 1497. One of the aldermen on the Street Naming Sub-committee was Cornish and probably responsible for this street name and other Cornish street names. An interesting local landmark, Hideaway Park, is tucked away at 23 Audley Avenue.
Austin – This street was developed around 1900 and is named after James Austin of the firm Austin & Foy, the owner of the new and resplendent Spadina House. Austin was also president of the Dominion Bank of Canada.
Badgerow – Formerly Franklin Street. It was renamed after George Washington Badgerow (1841 – 1892), an Ontario lawyer and politician who represented York East in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1879 to 1886 as a Liberal member. The family, originally “Bergereau”, were early settlers in Markham and strong supporters of the rebels in 1837. Disgruntled, some joined the Markham Gang of outlaws.
Berkshire – Built through the grounds of the Toronto Nurseries around 1911, this name was likely given by real estate agents hoping to attract English immigrants.
Bertmount – After Albert (Bert) Wagstaff who owned land here. Bertmount Avenue runs straight through the site of the Wagstaff family home.
Billings –Robert J. Billings was a local builder from Somerset, England, who probably came to Canada to work at the Price brothers’ brickyard. Like many brickyard workers, he also became a contractor. Builders often named streets after themselves or family members.
Bisley – In 1905 Russell Place, site of a Russell brickyard, was renamed Bisley, after a local family. It is probably the shortest street in Leslieville.
Blong –The Blong family came to Canada from Ireland, but were originally Huguenots from France. This prominent local family were wholesale butchers and cattle dealers.
Bloomfield – After George Bloomfield, shoemaker, and his family, local residents.
Booth – After a local butcher.
Boston – After the Boston family. Frank Boston managed a gravel pit in Ben Lamond and began the first streetcar (tramway) service on Kingston Road. His son Joseph was a florist.
Brick Court – After the early brickyards that clustered between the shore of Ashbridges Bay and Kingston Road.
Brighton – Formerly Hallam St., after a local family, the Brightons, not the resort town in England. John Hallam was a Toronto alderman, hide and leather merchant and consistent opponent of John Knox Leslie in the council chambers. When Leslieville became part of Toronto, a Hallam Street already existed, necessitated the name change.
Brooklyn – Because it was by a brook, now buried underground. It ran through John Russell’s brickyard, the site of Brooklyn Avenue.
Bushell –The Reverend Bushell was a popular Anglican priest in Leslieville.
Busy – Busy because it was actually a very busy street. It was lined on the north side with stables for the teams of draft horses that delivered the goods from the Queen Street shops. The stables are still there, but the massive Clydesdales, Percherons and Shire horses can only now be appreciated at special events or fall fairs.
CamFella Lane – After a giant in Canadian harness racing history, CamFella died in 2001, with a remarkable record at the track.
Carlaw –In 1874 the City of Toronto re-named Gorrie Street Carlaw Avenue. Major John Carlaw did not own extensive property in the area, but he married into the influential Clarke family of Leslieville butchers.
Caroline – After Caroline Davis who married George Leslie.
Cherry Nook Gardens – Thomas Beatty’s home was purchased in 1900 by a prosperous Irish grocer named Frank Britton and his wife, Minnie Duff. Here at “Cherry Nook Kennels” they raised prize-winning Irish terriers. In 1911 the Brittons subdivided their land and laid out a new street running east from Greenwood Avenue to the Duke of Connaught School property. They named the street “Cherry Nook Gardens”
Coady – After a local family of Irish Catholics who worked in the market gardens and brickyards. The street was subdivided around 1911.
Colgate – Formerly Natalie Street. It was renamed after the Colgate Palmolive Company of Canada Ltd. The soap factory there was a major local employer.
Connaught – After the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada. A son of Queen Victoria, be became a nuisance during World War One when he tried to direct Canada’s war effort.
Coxwell – After Charles Coxwell Small (1800-1864) who was a gentleman farmer and member of the Family Compact. The Small family came from Berkeley, England. Major John Small, his father, fought the first duel in Toronto. Major Small married Eliza Goldsmith, who died about 1834. They were Anglicans and donated the land for St. John of Norway Church and cemetery. Small’s town home, built in 1845, still exists, in altered form, at 298 King Street East. He owned a valuable farm of 500 acres (over 200 ha) east of Leslieville in Lots 6, 7 and 8, York Township, where he raised prize-winning shorthorns.
Craven — originally Erie Terrace. In 1923 the name was changed to “Craven Road” to eliminate some of the stigma attached to living there.
Dagmar – After Princess Dagmar of Denmark who married Czar Alexander III of Russia. She was the sister of Queen Alexandra who married Edward VII, King of England. She was pretty and very popular.
Danforth – After Colonel Asa Danforth, an American contractor who built the road to Kingston in 1799.
Dibble – After the Dibble brothers, Robert and Harry, athletes who became war heroes. It may be a memorial specifically to Harry Dibble who was killed in action in the trenches.
Dorothy – Probably after Dorothy Kerr who married into the Price family.
Dundas – This street was not completed through Leslieville until after 1955. It is named after Henry Dundas, a Scotch politician, responsible for controlling the unruly clansmen after Culloden. The Highlanders burned him in effigy not poor daft King George.
Eastern – Formerly South Park. This was the “Eastern route” out of town.
Empire – after Empire Mills, a paper mill and stationery supplier.
Endean – After a local family, the Endeans.
Fairford – Probably because it was a good place to cross Ashbridges Creek – a “fair ford” where the water was shallow.
Gerrard – Formerly Rembler’s (Ramblers) Road after Rembler Paul, local veterinarian and brother-in-law to George Leslie Sr. The Gerrards were an early family in York with ties to Montreal, and friends of McGill of McGill Square. They were original donors to Little Trinity Church in Corktown. The street downtown was named after the Gerrards. In 1884, when the City of Toronto extended the street, the rough Rembler’s Road became Gerrard Street East. Rembler Paul and his wife Elizabeth were noted for their eccentricity. A mountain top in Kelowna, B.C., holds their tomb. The family cat is buried with them.
Glenside – Formerly Glencoe after the place in Scotland where the Campbells massacred the Macdonalds. Renamed Glenside, a happier association. In Scotland a little valley is called “glen”.
Greenwood – after the Greenwood family.
Harriet – After Harriet Wharfe who married a Morley.
Hastings – After Thomas Hastings, local blacksmith and axe maker, and his family.
Heward – After the Hewards, a prominent family in York. Francis Heward came here in 1812 and was influential in the Family Compact. Many of the more affluent members of York, like the Hewards and Robinsons, maintained farms to provide them with a supply of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, etc. In the 1830s William Heward had a farm here.
Hiawatha – Named after the hero in Longfellow’s poem. Romanticizing First Nations people became very popular around this time with the publishing of a series of books by American Henry Schoolcraft, an Indian Agent. For a while, the Toronto Islands were called “Hiawatha”.
Hiltz –William W. Hiltz , a school teacher and builder, became Mayor of Toronto in 1924. During his term, he introduced time-clocks for City of Toronto workers. More importantly, he was instrumental in getting the new Union Station built, along with the Toronto Viaduct, long-promised by the Federal Government.
Ivy – After a member of the Morley family.
Jones – Formerly Clifford after a well-known local family. It was renamed after John Jones, city alderman, and Works Commissioner. He was also a brickmaker and real estate developer, as well as an active Orangeman.
Kent – After the Duke of Kent, son of George V, or because the flat lands along Ashbridges Bay reminded English immigrants of the fields of Kent in eastern England.
Kerr– George Powell Price, son of John Price and Jane Powell, local brickmakers, married Emma Kerr.
Knox – Formerly Lake Street. It was re-named after John Knox Leslie.
Laing – After local family of fishers and boat builders, including William Laing, who built boats at Laing and Eastern and fisherman George Lang (also spelled Lang).
Larchmount – Because tamaracks (larches) grew there on the water-soaked ground by Ashbridges Bay.
Leslie — After George Leslie
Logan – After Scottish market gardener, John Logan, and his family. They had extensive property on this road.
Louvain – After the Belgian city where alleged German atrocity helped to inspire Canadians to enlist to fight the Hun.
Mallon – After a local family.
Marigold – After the flower. This was on Toronto Nurseries land where flowers were grown, including marigolds.
Marjory – After the daughter of John E. Russell, a developer and contractor.
McGee – Formerly Darcy Street after Darcy Boulton. It was renamed McGee after D’Arcy McGee, Father of Confederation who was assassinated on April 7, 1868 by an Irish nationalist.
Minto – After the Minto Brothers, building contractors and tea merchants who lived here. William Minto was born in Scotland and came to Canada with his family. The family were Plymouth Brethren, an Evangelical Christian denomination, and this made them a little different in the largely Methodist and Catholic Leslieville. Minto Street was virtually an enclave onto itself. Minto was educated in Lower Canada, but settled in Toronto in 1876. He and his brother John opened a tea business on Colborne Street. Many years later they moved their business to Front Street. William moved his family home to the Junction in 1896.
Morse – After a family of local cattle dealers. George D. Morse, well known cattle dealer.
Mosley – After Benjamin Mosley, United Empire Loyalist, and one of the first settlers on the north shore of Ashbridges Bay.
Myrtle – Likely after a member of the Morley family.
Pape – After Joseph Pape, a Yorkshireman who had a market garden at the corner of Gerrard and Pape.
Parkfield – Because it is near Greenwood park.
Prust – After William Prust, local builder and real estate developer. Englishman William Prust was one of the founders of Haliburton. He immigrated to Canada in 1873 with his wife Ellen Adams and his children. They settled first in Peterborough where he worked as a shoemaker. A man of many talents, Prust became a carpenter and builder. In 1908 Prust moved to Toronto where he became well known as a real estate developer and created the Riverdale Gardens subdivision. For example, he built many of the houses along Prust Avenue, Sandford, Bloomfield and Ivy. His pride was that each property had its own fruit tree. He lived on Greenwood Avenue just north of Gerrard. Prust died in Toronto in 1927 at the age of 81.
Queen – After Queen Victoria, formerly Kingston Road. In 1884 the street was renamed Queen Street when the route of Queen Street in Corktown was straightened and the street became a continuous thoroughfare through to the Beach.
Redwood – Named in imitation of “Greenwood”, a sort of echo.
Renwick –Jim Renwick, local New Democratic Member of the Legislative Assembly, who died of a heart attack in 1984.
Rhodes – Formerly Reid after a local brickmaker, Ross Reid. In 1909 it was renamed Rhodes after a family of shopkeepers on the street.
Rushbrooke – From Leslie Creek, a short fast brook that ran into Ashbridges Bay where the street is now.
Sawden – After Thomas Sawden, local brickmaker.
Sear – After Charles and Sarah Sear and their family. Charles Sear was a brickmaker from Somerset, like the Prices, Dibbles, Billings and others. He became a builder of tunnels in France. He arrived in Canada in 1866 and became a brickmaker in Leslieville. He was killed by natural gas while digging a well on Jones Avenue.
Sproat (or Sproatt) – Formerly Methuen, a town in Massachusetts where many members of the Hastings family had lived. Sproat was named after Henry Sproatt, who came from Cumberland England and worked first as a carter, driving wagons. He went on to become one of Toronto’s first soft drink manufacturers, specializing in ginger beer. He was an alderman for many years and knew George Leslie Sr. well. He was Chair of the Board of works when Leslie was on the Board of Health. Henry Sproatt also sat on the Gas and Water Committee. He was active in the St. George Society. His son, Charles Sproatt, became City Engineer for Toronto and advocated improving the conditions of Ashbridges Bay in spite of the resistance of City Council. Grandson Henry Sproatt was a member of the firm of Sproatt and Rolph, a well-known Toronto architectural firm. Sproatt bottles are highly collectible today.
Stanton – After prominent photographer, Eldridge Stanton.
Thackeray – After William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair.
Vancouver – Formerly Ashport for the Ashbridges family and the cove where the docked their boats (now under the TTC Russell Car Barns).
Verral – After a family of politicians and owners of stables and of a cab and livery business. In 1884 the Verrals built a livery stable here and Charles E. Verral was put in charge. The Verrals are believed to be the first in Toronto to use automobiles for taxi cabs, replacing horses. As politicians the Verrals were successful but tainted in the 1890s by their involvement in a kickback scheme at City Hall – the “boodling scandal.”
Verral Mews are ten row houses that were built around 1903 by Anglican bishop, J. McQueen Baldwin, on leased land. The intent was to provide good affordable housing for immigrants from England. However, the Bishop’s successors were not as keen about affordable housing as Baldwin and the Church evolved into an absentee landlord with run-down property. In 1973 Russell-McKay Realty Ltd. bought the Verral Mews and renovated it. The old facades were kept though veneered over with brick. The insides were gutted. The architect for the restoration was Vimal Sarin. It was a challenge because the interiors are only 14 feet (just over 4 meters) wide.
Walpole – Formerly Vernon. John Walpole was a plasterer and a builder.
Woodfield – Originally Morley Avenue, after a family of brickmakers, some of whom lived on the street. Around 1923 the name was changed by developers to make the street more attractive to English immigrants when the area was subdivided.
Winnifred – Formerly Radcliffe Avenue. The Radcliffes were a local family. In 1905 Radcliffe Avenue was changed to Winnifred Avenue. Winnifred may have been a Radcliffe. A Victorian author, Winifred Radcliffe, was known for her stories about fairies. Any connection between the fairies and the street is improbable.