What’s in a (street) name? In the case of Bloor Street, one of the busiest streets in Toronto, the answer appears to be…side whiskers. We looked into the history some of the city’s major thoroughfares to find not just the origins of the names but the background and portrait of each namesake.

Take a look below:

Tecumseh Street


Image: Toronto Public Library

Where: A north-south street that starts at Queen Street West and ends near the railway tracks south of Niagara St.

Who: The street is named for the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, born in present-day Ohio in 1768. He was known as a great orator, and in the early 1800s, helped establish what’s known as Tecumseh’s Confederacy, bringing together tribes from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, with the aim of preventing further encroachment on native territory.

In the War of 1812, he was made a brigadier-general and helped fight against the American forces, eventually helping capture Detroit for the British. He died in 1813 at the Battle of Thames.



Bloor Street

Joseph Bloor

Image: Toronto Public Library

Where: The east-west street runs across the city, from the Prince Edward Viaduct at the Don River Valley to Central Parkway in Mississauga.

Who: The major street is named after Joseph Bloor (or Bloore), an innkeeper and one of the city’s first beer brewers. Born in England in the late 1700s, he moved to Toronto in 1819 and started up his brewery in the 1830s near present day Sherbourne Street. He owned large tracts of land in Yorkville, which was then considered the outskirts of the city.

The picture above is believed to have been taken in the 1850s. Bloor died in 1862.


Dufferin Street

lord dufferin

Image: Toronto Public Library

Where: The major north-south thorough starts at Lake Ontario and continues on for four kilometres, well into York Region.

Who: The street’s namesake is Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. He was made the third Governor General of Canada in 1872, a post he held until 1878.

A popular politician, Lord Dufferin visited every province in Canada during his tenure and is credited with keeping British Columbia within the Dominion of Canada when, in 1876, the province threatened to secede over railway issues. The Dufferin Terrace in Quebec City is also named for him.


Gerrard Street


Image: Wikicommons

Where: The street starts at University Avenue, continuing east into Scarborough and ending at Clonmore Drive. It was once split into two parts: Upper Gerrard and Lower Gerrard.

Who: Samuel Gerrard was a jack of all trades: a fur trader, militia officer, politician and bank president. Born in Ireland in 1767, Gerrard settled in Montreal as a young man and worked the fur trade near the Great Lakes until transitioning into trade and then finance by the early 1800s. He’s credited with helping Montreal transition from a fur hub to the leading commercial centre of Lower Canada.

He was the Bank of Montreal’s second president between 1820 and 1826.


Strachan Avenue

john strachan

Image: Toronto Public Library

Where: The north-south street starts at Coronation Park at Lake Ontario and ends at Queen Street West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Who: John Strachan was the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto and a powerful figure in Upper Canada politics in the early 1800s. A part of York’s conservative elite and an active politician in both the Executive Council of Upper Canada and Legislative Council, Strachan was staunchly anti-American and not particularly sympathetic to reformer sentiments. He helped quash the Rebellion of 1837, which was led by York’s William Lyon Mackenzie King.

He also founded Trinity College in 1851, which was located in what is Trinity Bellwoods Park today.


Christie Street

christie st-compressed

Image: Toronto Public Library

Where: The north-south street starts at Bloor Street and ends at St. Clair Ave. W.

Who: The street is named for William Mellis Christie (pictured standing, far left) of “Mr. Christie, you make good cookies” fame. Christie worked as a baker in Toronto, eventually co-founding Christie, Brown and Company in 1868.

By the 1870s, his business had expanded and moved into new facilities, taking up the entire block on Adelaide Street East between George and Frederick Streets. By 1890, one in five baking industry workers was employed by Christie. The company continued to grow beyond Canada and was bought by Nabisco in 1928.

Adelaide Street

queen adelaide

Image: Wikicommons

Where: The east-west street starts at the Eastern Avenue on-ramp and ends at Shaw Street.

Who: The street was named in honour of Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, who married William IV of the United Kingdom in 1818, eventually becoming queen consort of the United Kingdom and Hanover after her husband was made King.

Unfortunately, Adelaide suffered a number of complications during each of her pregnancies and none of her children lived beyond the age of four months old. With no heir, the crown went to King William’s niece, Victoria.

Adelaide was well-liked by the British public, a modest, deeply religious woman who gave much of her money to charity. Many streets, as well as cities across the world such as Adelaide, Australis, were named for her.

O’Connor Drive


Image: Wikicommons

Where: The street starts at Broadview Avenue and ends in the eastern part of the city at Victoria Park Avenue.

Who: Frank Patrick O’Connor opened the first Laura Secord Candy store in Canada on Yonge Street in 1913. The popular shop expanded and by 1950, there were 96 shops across Ontario and Quebec and many drug stores also carried the products. Currently, there more than 120 stores in Canada.

A known philanthropist and devout Catholic, O’Connor donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Archdiocese of Toronto. In 1935, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, representing Scarborough Junction until his death in 1939. Senator O’Connor College School, a Toronto Catholic District School Board high school, was eventually named in his honour.

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