Ever wonder how Davis Drive became Davis Drive, or Memorial Way got its name? This article begins a series exploring Newmarket’s long history of commemorating its heritage through street names. I have examined the process as it relates to the naming of parks and recreational sites in an earlier article.
I’ll examine the history behind the naming of Newmarket’s streets, and the criteria behind the process in place to honour our local heritage. Anyone can nominate a person to be associated with a Newmarket street name if it meets certain criteria, including that the names must relate to local individuals and families posthumously who had a considerable relationship with the town, or made a significant social, political, or cultural contribution to the town.
You can find the full details of Newmarket’s street naming policy here.
I can remember a time not that long ago when a committee of local heritage buffs put forward names to be honoured and did the background checks and such, but the town took over the process and the planning department now does the honour.
We will now turn our attention to a listing of our street names and their providence, ward by ward, starting with Ward 1.
I have often receive questions following a live presentation or a video on why this name or that name was chosen. The existing street names fall into several categories. The town found itself playing a bit of catchup with its honouring of pioneer or founding families and thus there was an initial push to get those names memorialized. As a result, many streets were named after the people who developed our subdivisions, perhaps they owned the farm and per a prior agreement had their name or those of their children immortalized in the naming of a local street.
Some of the street names’ providence is as simple as being part of a nationwide trend to name streets after the Great Lakes, monarchs or people of national importance. As expected, former local politicians have also had their names immortalized with a street or park naming.
I want to remind you that the naming of streets within our new subdivisions is done in partnership with their developers. The developer can name a certain percentage of the streets and the exact number, as I understand, is part of a negotiation process.
Sometimes, the town creates a special criterion for an area or ward that reflects a perceived need to pay homage to a specific group within our community. This was the case when council decided to bestow street names in the Copper Hills area in Ward 1 to honour those who had served and sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
The public and Newmarket Royal Canadian Legion worked together to create a list of worthy names and if you visit that area, you will note the street signs also include a red poppy image. We will examine those street names first as I believe they represent a group that more than deserves their lives immortalized in a formal way by a grateful community.
Ward 1 is one of the newer areas of Newmarket’s family of wards and has seen the creation of a plethora of new streets. The town’s commitment to commemorating the fallen from our world wars has produced the following street namings.
From the Second World War we have Art Westlake Avenue, named for the resident, who in addition to having served his country also was the former president of our Legion. Atkins Drive is named after John Ivan Atkins, Blackhall Crescent carries the name of Herbert George Blackhall and Joseph Blackhall, two local brothers who served in the Second World War.
Bob Gapp Drive is named after the resident who spearheaded the establishment of memorials at both the Newmarket Veterans’ Association and Newmarket Health Centre in honour of the local men and women serving in Canada’s forces during conflict.
Sherman Brock Circle named after Sherman Brock, Shortreed Terrace named after John Thomas Shortreed, McCron Crescent named for William George McCron, Warby Trail named for T.R. Warby, Blencowe Crescent named after Robert William Blencowe and Wilber Pipher Circle named after Wilber Pipher all carry the names of those who gave their lives in defence of their country.
Streets honouring those who served and died defending our country during the First World War include Ernest Cousins Circle, Goring Circle honouring Maitland Harold Goring, Grainger Trail honoring. William Gilbert Grainger, Harden Trail honouring Robert James Harden, McTavish Drive named after William McTavish, Mee Place honouring Charles Norris Mee, Quick Street named for Stuart Henry Quick, Ralston Crescent honouring James Alfred Ralston, Riordan Court for Edward Riordan, and Stuffles Crescent that honours David Stanley Stuffles.
Several streets carry names commemorating war-related themes such as Cenotaph Boulevard, an empty tomb or a monument erected in honour of soldiers whose remains are elsewhere, Memorial Circle, an object meant to serve as a focus for memory, Poppy Lane, used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war and Veterans Way, dedicated to all the men and women who have served or are serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.
There are many streets in Ward 1 whose names are not tied to the honouring Newmarket’s war heroes. Drurey Court, for instance, is named after Joshua Drurey, a farmer whose property was located on lot 30 in Whitchurch township, just south of Bogarttown and east of Leslie Street. His former farm was to become present day Kingsdale Estates.
Bahen Court carries the name of John Bahen, a local philanthropist, Hilton Byrne Court was named after Hilton Byrne, a young man who died due to a fatal skateboarding accident, Hans Pfaff Court named after the founder of Pfaff Motors and a local philanthropist, and Frank Hempen Court named for the founder of Hempen Jewellers and prominent local philanthropist.
Lastly, Leslie Street, initially called Queen Street and then Sutton Road when I was a youth. In the 1970s, it was renamed as the extension of the Leslie Street that originates in Toronto. The name comes from the Leslie family of Leslie Ville, an eastern suburb of Toronto.
And we come to the end of the first of what I hope will be a collection of articles documenting the providence of our local street names. If I have miss a street in your area, I urge you to send me a note and I shall include it in future articles.
I do not intend to deal with streets that carry a developer’s nomination as I am unclear of the providence of those names.
A special thanks goes out to Regional Councillor Tom Vegh who sent me a list of proposed street names a few years ago for his ward, which has proven to be vital in this first article.
Sources: The Newmarket Era; Newmarket - The Origin of Street Names Volume 1 by George Luesby 1991 and Volume 2 by Robert Terrence Carter 2009; Oral History Interviews by Richard MacLeod; Town of Newmarket’s Planning Department
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.