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Newmarket founding families, sports heroes, longtime politicians honoured in Ward 2 street names

In this week's Rememember This, History Hound Richard MacLeod continues his series exploring the history of street names

This part two of my series on the providence of our Newmarket street names. In the first article, we looked at our street names in Ward 1.

Before we get started, I need to add to the criteria and process for the dedication of street names as I forgot to mention another avenue available for getting a name on a street.

For this article, I consulted with Mayor John Taylor, Tom Hempen and Megan White from the planning department to gain specific knowledge about this special process to obtain a street name. It appears this opportunity has been offered through charity auctions over the years.

A charity like the Southlake Foundation or Habitat for Humanity often turn to auctions to raise money and the town or sometimes the developer will donate a street name to the auction. The process from the town’s perspective is to bring the request for the donation of a street name to council and council decides whether a future street name will be made available.

According to the planning department, the rules governing the suitability of the name still apply. 

In Ward 1, we have three street names derived from this auction method, Hans Pfaff Crescent, Frank Hempen Court, and Hilton Byre Court, although there may be more. Most of these recipients would likely have had their name immortalized in due course. 

I also was able to ascertain that all council members, once they have served three terms on council (they do not need to be consecutive) will have a street named after them automatically.

In my first article, I looked predominantly at those who had served in the military, but in this second edition, I want to look at a few other streets within Ward One that recognize among other things sports heroes, former politicians, developers of subdivisions and persons of historical significance locally.

The recognition of sports heroes is a common practice in the naming of a street and Ward One has three of them all in the same area. McBean Avenue, Silken Laumann Drive and Heddle Crescent are all named for distinguished Olympic Athletes.  

Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean were rowing partners and are the only Canadian athletes to win three gold medals in the Summer Olympic Games. They also claimed gold in the pairs at the 1991 and 1995 world championships and were inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. 

Silken Laumann, was also inducted into the Canadian Sports of Fame, winning two bronze and a silver medals in the Olympics and two golds at the Pan Am Games. 

Quaker Trail received its designation in recognition of the Society of Friends, the Quakers, who were instrumental in the founding of Newmarket and the surrounding area.

Nellie Little Crescent takes its name from the Little family who were early settlers of the area, having lived on Bayview (previously Second Street) for years. Nellie Little was the assistant librarian at the local library during the 1950s and the 1960s and so was very well known around town.

Another well-known citizen who has his name immortalized in Ward One is Lyman Rose (Lyman Boulevard).  He was a partner in Roadhouse and Rose, president of the Newmarket Hockey Club, served on the board of our Lawn Bowling Club, served on the Newmarket Public School Board and was a Mason.

Dillman Avenue is named after Fred Dillman, who served as the volunteer fire chief with the Newmarket Fire Department and was prominent in the local sports scene as well. The Dillman name was prominent around town when I was a youth.  

Bob Scott Court is named for the former councillor of Newmarket who held the record as the councillor with the longest history of service to the town until David Kerwin surpassed him in the last few years. Scott also served as our mayor on a part-time basis from December 1978 to February 1979.  It should also be mentioned Scott was one of the most recognizable men in town due to his local community involvement.

Another street named after a former local politician is Gail Parks Crescent. Parks was a prominent town councillor and community advocate for many years.

Several streets are named after prominent local families like Best Circle and Hilton Boulevard. These families were well known around town as longtime residents. Harold Hilton and Chester Best were local fixtures at one time.  

Bayview Avenue, part of Ward One, originates at Mill Street in Toronto’s Corktown Common and runs northward through the Don River Valley, on the west side of the river opposite the Don Valley Parkway. 

In 1931, James Stanley McLean constructed "Bay View" (now known as McLean House), a house that overlooked the Don Valley with a view south down to Toronto Bay, and ultimately this led to the road becoming known as Bayview Avenue.

It runs north past Steeles Avenue, Toronto’s northern city limit, and continues on through York Region, where it is formally identified as York Regional Road 34. Passing through Thornhill, Richmond Hill and the Oak Ridges Moraine, it ends in Newmarket where it turns into Prospect Street.

While I have not covered every street in Ward 1, I will move on to Ward 2.

Ward 2 has many streets named after high-profile historical figures and some of our first families. I have detailed their accomplishments in previous Newmarket Today articles.

The Bogart Family came to this area in around 1802. Moses Bogart was a longtime merchant on Main Street, and an early partner of Robert Simpson. The family were great benefactors of the town and have left behind invaluable snippets of our treasured history in their memoirs. To honour this family the town created Bogart Avenue.

Brunton Place is named after William and Thomas Brunton who owned and operated a general store on the east side of Main Street for many, many years beginning in 1903. Thomas Brunton was magistrate of York County from 1908 to 1928. 

Dales Avenue carries the name of Dr. Lowell Dales who was a town councillor from 1928 to 1929, then reeve from 1931 to 1938 and finally mayor from 1942 to 1948. A prominent politician and community promoter, he is best known as the founder of a private hospital on Main in his home beside the Baptist Church in 1921. It remained so until York County Hospital was constructed in 1927. 

Forhan Avenue, which runs south off Davis Drive is named for Bob Forhan, who was an Olympic athlete before he turned his attention to politics, first serving on council, and then becoming mayor from 1971 to 1978. He became the chairman of York Region from 1978 to 1984 and then the chief administrator of York Region.  

Another former mayor, Raymond Twinney, has been honoured with Twinney Drive which appropriately runs off Forhan Avenue. Twinney operated a BP gas station on Davis Drive across from the Newmarket Plaza and sponsored the appropriately named Rays Fastball Team. 

He was a long-serving politician, first in East Gwillimbury from 1965 to 1969, then as deputy reeve in 1970. He then moved to Newmarket where he served on Newmarket council as regional councillor from 1971 to 78 and then became mayor after Forhan moved on to the region.  

One of the major streets in Newmarket, Gorham Street takes its name from the Gorham family. Eli Gorham built a woollen mill on Bogart Creek, on the south side of Gorham Street. He participated in the 1837 rebellion, living in exile in the US for several years.  His house is still there at 674 Gorham St. 

Returning to famous sports figures, Herb Cain Avenue was named after Herb Cain, a professional hockey player who played with the famous Newmarket Junior teams of the 1930s before beginning a career in the NHL, primarily with Boston. There is currently a campaign to have Cain inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is a charter member of our Sports Hall of Fame. 

We have so much history intertwined in our street names. Next weekend, we will return to the streets of Ward Two as we continue our series.

Sources: Tom Vegh’s List of Nominated Names for Street Naming Honours; Newmarket - The Origin of Street Names Volume 1 by George Luesby 1991 and Volume 2 by Robert Terrence Carter 2009.


Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod, the History Hound, has been a local historian for more than 40 years. He writes a weekly feature about our town's history in partnership with Newmarket Today, conducts heritage lectures and walking tours of local interest, and leads local oral history interviews.


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About the Author: Richard MacLeod

Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years
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