(Names of strees and towns in Niagara
Originally printed 1907
This may seem to some to be a trivial subject but it is indeed very interesting and involves some knowledge of the town and throws light on some of its forgotten pages. The town was laid out in 1791 by D. W. Smith, Deputy Surveyor General the son of Major Smith of the 5th Regt., laid out with mathematical regularity, wide streets, not all, however, of the same width. The first survey extended only to King Street, a river front of 800 yards, but as we learn from a meeting of the Land Board in 1791, this was extended in the direction of Navy Hall. In the map of 1791 the property of D. W. Smith is shown; on the four acres now called the Market Square was his fine house referred to in our No.11. In 1816 the boundaries were extended, and in 1822 a map was made by Capt. Vavasour, R.E., taking in the common to Fort George, and in the map of David Thompson, 1845, are included the map of Vavasour and that of the Harbor and Dock Company of 1831. In the letter of Jno. Small, 1795, the names of owners of lots in the town are given from No.1 to No. 412, the same as numbers used now. In Vavasour's map the new part is numbered again from 1 to A6, and in the Harbour and Dock Company's numbered from 1 to 21. In the map of Chas. L. Hall, barrister, about 1830, the numbers are the same as in that of 1795.
The fact that the town at first extended only to King Street explains the reason why to the continuation of the streets south a different name is given. Thus Queen Street, south of King, is Picton Street. No doubt the chief street of the town was named from Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, and its continuation, Picton St., from the heroic general who fell at the battle of Waterloo, the streets east and west of Queen are respectively called Johnston and Prideaux, from the two commanders who conducted the siege of Fort Niagara in 1759. General Prideaux was killed by the bursting of a shell and was buried in the chapel as told by Sir William Johnston in his diary. "He was buried with great form. I was the chief mourner." There has been much discussion lately as to the site of the grave and whether there should not be a stone to mark the spot where lies a British General who gave his life for Britain's glory. The continuation of Prideaux Street is Byron Street, the poet as he just at this time "awoke one morning and found himself famous." Johnston Street, south of King, is called Platoff Street, from the Russian General, who defeated Napoleon. Gage Street, next to Johnston, is named from General Gage, Governor of Montreal, in 1760. In 1774 he was governor of Massachusetts, at that time a very difficult position. On the south of King Street it is named Castlereagh from the British statesman, whose fate was so tragic.
The remaining streets to the west are simply Centre, William, Mary, John and Anne, whether from William III and his Queen Mary and her sister Anne or for some local magnates in the town or simply for no reason, a dearth of ideas, John, though so common a name, has never been a popular name for a king of England. We turn now to the streets at right angles commencing with King Street, the origin of which need not be questioned; it is now often called Broadway. The next Regent, was probably named from the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV, but there is a tradition that it had a more plebeian origin; a fashionable tailor on this street advertised that he was from Regent Street, London, and articles bought there were said to be from Regent Street and that name was gradually given. It seemed puzzling how the next street could be called Victoria, as when these streets were named, Victoria was not born. As the Princess Charlotte, of Wales, died in 1817, Victoria born in 1819, was heiress to the crown but an explanation has lately suggested itself. It is found that in early maps the streets north of King are simply called 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th streets, and at a later date part of them were renamed.
The next, Gate street, is so far an unsolved mystery, Simcoe Street bears a name worthy of remembrance, that of the first governor of Upper Canada, who lived here a part of five years, his hospitality shewn by his Indian name,' Deyonguhokrawen one whose door is always open," a lake, a county, a town all bear his name. Mississagua Street is the only Indian name preserved in our streets, running out to Mississagua Point where the lighthouse stood near the spot now occupied by the tower built of the bricks from the ruins of the town styled by our poet "a stern memorial of a deed unchivalrous", Our street names seem now to have exhausted their ideas as the remainder of the streets to the north are sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth streets.
South of King Street nearly all the names are military given shortly after that Titanic struggle of Britain with so many foes. That was surely still more than of late a condition of "splendid isolation". The next street to King has however the name of a Scientist, from Sir Humphrey Davy who had in 1819 invented the safety lamp. Next comes Wellington Street, recalling the Iron Duke of whom Tennyson said, "Truth lover was our English Duke, whatever record leap to light. He never shall be shamed." The next Alava, from a Spanish general who served on the staff of Wellington. Nelson Street recalls the great Sea Admiral who won victory after victory and finally saved England from the threatened invasion of Napoleon by destroying the combined fleets of France and Spain. It is fitting that the next street should be called Collingwood, the friend of Nelson, who followed him step by step up the ladder of promotion and on the death of Nelson assumed the command and completed the victory. Another military commander gives his name to the next, Blucher Street, reminding us of that long loud Sabbath day of Waterloo when Wellington standing firm resisting charge after charge finally wished for "night or Blucher" but before the arrival of either knew the day was won and the "Old Guard of France" had failed to make any impression on that "front of steel," why the name Lichen was given to the last street we know not, except that here one of the numerous springs found on the bank causes moss and lichen in abundance. Another name Trivene is given on one map.
There still remains the land given to the Harbour and Dock Company in 1831 Part of this was marshy and the earth from the' excavation for the "slip" was used to fill up the low land, the exhalations from which no doubt helped to cause the fever and ague of which early visitors speak so much. It is easy to see why the boundary was called Front Street; where now stands the Queen's Royal Hotel was the Engineers Quarters, the continuation of the street, Ricardo is named from neither a military nor naval hero, nor yet from a royal personage or a great statesman, but from David Ricardo who wrote on Political Economy and Taxation in 1817.
The chief officials of the Harbour and Dock Company were honored by the streets of their domain being named after them. Delatre, from the President, Col. Delatre, whose tragic death on the Toronto steamer is recorded in papers of that day, 1848. Col. Delatre had belonged to the Ceylon Regiment in 1818, and lived at Lundy's Lane in 1832, and in Niagara over a year. His house, Delatre Lodge, is now owned by Mr. E. B. Hostetter. He was a student of the classics as well as of science. This street is often called Spring Street, the reason being obvious. The Secretary of the company, Jas. Lockhart, afterwards a noted merchant of the town as well as a banker and ship owner, gives his name to the next street, and a cross street is called Melville from Captain Melville, the chief 'proprietor, who is spoken of in 1837 by Mrs. Jameson in her "Summer Rambles and Winter Studies" as a. public spirited goodnatured gentleman Ball Street also a cross street, is named from George Ball, a large stockholder, who came from the Mohawk valley in 1784.
The names in the County of Lincoln will suggest new lines of thought, when Simcoe came as Governor in 1792 a division was made of nineteen Counties in Upper Canada instead of the forty six at present in Ontario. These were nearly all named from counties in England and the townships from the towns and villages in the respective Counties, Lincoln included the Niagara peninsula and extended as far as the present County of Norfolk'. The names of townships, Caistor, Clinton, Grantham, Gainsborough, Grimsby, Louth, Ancaster, Barton, Glanford, Crowland, Humberstone, Wainfleet, Stamford, etc., are all from towns or villages in Lincolnshire, England.' The names since given to our towns and villages give us some hint of the chief men of the time, being either military or political officials, or some village magnate's name is preserved. Newark was named by Simcoe from a town in Lincolnshire, Queenston it is thought from the Queen or the Queen's Rangers stationed there, Governor Simcoe had been the 'colonel of another regiment of Queen's Rangers in the Revolutionary War. The Hon. Robert Hamilton or Judge Hamilton, the Lieutenant of the County and the chief' man of the district, supplies a name to two cities, Hamilton from George Hamilton his son, and St. Catharines from Catharine Askin, his first wife. It is true that Page's Atlas credits the name to Catharine Butler, the wife of Colonel Butler, although on another page he names Catharine Hamilton, and some have asserted it was from Catharine, the wife of Hon. Wm. Hamilton Merritt, but it is shown conclusively that it was named St. Catharines in the first survey, 1809, and the fact that the same Judge Hamilton who owned 500 acres where St. Catharines now stands, gave a grant of two acres for a church in 1798 gives consistency to the statement. It was first called the "Twelve" and Shipman's Corners from Paul Shipman, who kept a tavern, and to whom also St. Paul Street owes its name.
Port Dalhousie was named from Lord Dalhousie, who gave great encouragement to the Welland Canal project. Thorold takes its name from Sir John Thorold, who was the member for Lincolnshire in England then. It was at first called Stumptown, the heavy forest just cleared away having left such evidences, but a proposal was made to call it St. George from George Keefer, who is entitled to be called its founder. It is right and fitting that the name Merritt should be preserved as it is in Merritton, in sight of that great feat of engineering skill, the Welland canal, projected by the Hon. Wm. Hamilton Merritt. The villages Homer and Virgil owe their classic names to we know not what freak. The first was called the "Ten" from the Ten Mile Creek. Virgil has had several names, the "Four Mile Creek, the Cross Roads, then Lawrenceville from a good old Methodist Class Leader who lived there during the war of 1812, Jordan was the Twenty and Grimsby the Forty, the entrance of those creeks into Lake Ontario being supposed to be that number of miles from Niagara. Drummondville is now called Niagara Falls South, a change much to be regretted as the name of General Drummond who fought so bravely at Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie and elsewhere should certainly be commemorated. However, the church standing on the site of the battle of Lundy's Lane is called Drummond Hill Church. It is much to be regretted that so few Indian names have been preserved, as except Niagara, Chippawa and Erie there is no trace of the musical and sonorous Indian language. The name Niagara has forty different spellings in the Documentary History of New York, Ongiara, Ouniagarah brings up Goldsmith's line "And Niagara stuns with thundering sound". It was first West Niagara to distinguish it from Fort Niagara on the east side of the river then Nassau, Butlersburg, Newark, when Simcoe removed the capital to York the people of the town quite indignant, obtained an act of Parliament in 1798 to change it back to Niagara and now many say Niagara-on-the-Lake to distinguish it from Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls South, Niagara Falls Centre, Niagara Falls City, N.Y., making confusion worse confounded.
Dundas is named from Lord Dundas, the Secretary of State in Simcoe's time, Port Colborne from the stern military governor during the Rebellion. Port Robinson was first called Port Beverley from the Chief Justice John Beverley Robinson, and Allanburg from, it is probable, Sir Allan McNabb, St. Davids, at first called Davidsville from Major David Secord whose houses there were burned in 1814, Beamsville from Jacob Beam one of the earliest settlers and who gave the land for the Baptist church. Smithville from Smith Griffin, who came in 1787 and was the first merchant in Smithville, Stamford was first called Mount Dorchester from Lord Dorchester, sometimes Township No.2, as Newark was Township No.1.
This enumeration might be still more
extended, but may at least show that there is something after
all in a name.