What’s In A Name?

One of the saddest and most telling things that’s not mentioned in this Leader-Post story is that the reporter, editor, and/or publisher won’t report on something as obvious and invisible as the air we breathe. The incestuous group of property developers and real estate agents know that they can’t sell a house in suburban Regina to white residents if the street or subdivision has an aboriginal name. And they regard the city as their private plaything, which means that they can give strange names to their subdivisions, often as not with no connection to the community or one of their buddies in the property development business (I can only assume that Jim Carins Avenue in the Grasslands development is named after somebody that had something to do with Carins Homes, for example).

But when you go through the list on the street name catalogue, there are some howlers. What we should do is ask everybody to take a letter on the list. I’ll start with A.

* A street named after David Ahenakew?  Really?

* Roger Aldag was a pretty good offensive lineman for the Roughriders. But has he done enough for Regina outside of football to warrant having a street named after him? Probably not. Then again there’s also a street named after one of his predecessors on the offensive line, Ron Atchison.

*  A street named after Dr. J.T.M. Anderson? A first-class bigot? Who hated the idea of ethnic minorities (Ukrainians, Poles, etc.) living in Saskatchewan? Good gravy …

*  Argyle Street is a typo, since it was named for the ninth Duke of Argyll, Canada’s Governor General in the late 1870s. I now feel better about my additions to the Prairie Dog Type-O-Wiener Contest.

*  The only connection to Regina for whatever they named Arlington Street after was a hotel that ran in the city in the 1950s. The property developers pulled the name right out of thin air. I look forward to someday driving on Jolly Roger Boulevard.

*  Ascot Road is (probably) named after the British community famous for the Ascot Derby. This is what happens when you don’t have horse racing in your own community.

*  Asgar Walk. I think Thor used to live there, but he moved.

Author: Stephen LaRose

2006 winner of the Canadian Association of University Teachers's Award of Excellence in Journalism for a bunch of prairie dog stuff. Invited into the best homes in Regina. Once.

13 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”

  1. So we have names with real local meaning and history collecting dust while we give every road in some neighbourhoods a slight variation so they’re almost impossible to navigate (Wascana Place, Wascana Drive, Wascana Crescent, etc…) or have more than one Assiniboine Ave. with no connection between them?

    And how can we justify naming anything mount, woodland or harbour anything when we’re in the middle of the Prairie with no natural features aside from a glorified slough and a piddly creek?

  2. All streets should be numbered, with subdivisions named after their three-digit postal code prefix. All crescents, bays, and anything else with a dead end or a curve should be banned. No road should go any direction that does not follow the grid.
    “Hey I’m going to S4X today to visit Bob on 578 St.”

  3. My children go to a school named after a man who was instrumental in setting up the residential school system. I find it offensive. Anyone I mention it to seems confused as to why. God forbid we name things which are respectful to the previous inhabitants of this land though.

  4. woodlandangel: the same thing happened in Medicine Hat, with “Ross”, either alone or combined with suffixes like “land”, for streets, bays, crescents, lanes, etc. in the SE part of the city. Finding a particular address there was extremely difficult.

    I was on the Regina Public Library Board at a time when one of its responsibilities was to accept street name suggestions and then put them forward to City Council. We decided pretty quickly that that job was more properly the city’s and not ours, and we handed it off. As I recal,, there were several aboriginal names on the existing list. What the city did with them…well, see above.

    Mr. LaRose: speaking of typos, it’s “Jim Cairns”.

  5. Stephen LaRose – I’m not saying you’re right or wrong with your allegation that houses won’t sell on streets with Aboriginal names. But I’m wondering if you have any evidence or source for that?

    On the one hand, it’s believable to think there is subtle racism in this new Saskatchewan. But on the other hand, I see valuable properties transacting on all kinds of streets that bear Aboriginal names.

    I agree that Harbour Landing, given its controversial gestation, is comically rife with street names derived from city hall insiders/old boys club members.

  6. woodlandangel: “And how can we justify naming anything mount, woodland or harbour anything when we’re in the middle of the Prairie with no natural features aside from a glorified slough and a piddly creek?”

    Woodlandangel, I’m no fan of sprawling Harbour Landing, but I should let you know it’s name is derived from the neighboring airport, and in this case the “Harbour Landing” being referenced is a place for airplanes, not boats.

    In that way, it’s technically accurate.

    Of course if at least 99 percent of the public misunderstands your name, it does call into question if that was the best name that marketing could have chosen.

  7. I don’t think marketing is ever a serious factor when street names are chosen. Street names are generally chosen by the old boys club to reward other old boys for being such good old boys, plain and simple. Thanks, Stephen LaRose, for your post on this subject. You also inspired my newest dream. Someday, I want to live on Jolly Roger Boulevard. Best. Street. Name. Ever. Henceforth, YOU should be in charge of street names.

  8. Harbour Landing? Yeah, I’ve heard that stupid “air harbour” rationalization. What bollocks. How about we get in touch with reality and call it “Emergency Landing”? You know, to commemorate the buffer zone those condos are providing for the big box stores… ;)

  9. Rebecca, I agree that street names are picked for old boys, not marketing. However naming the whole subdivision Harbour Landing was marketing.

    Thankfully we’ve gone back to tradition with Somerset, which honours the well known pioneer Jacob P Somerset who bravely built his house in 1871 right on a dangerous tar pit. Rest In Peace J.P. Somerset (1840-1872).

    I also agree that we will have Roger Brandvold Boulevard, Roger Brandvold Way, Roger Brandvold Roundabout, Roger Brandvold Park, and Roger Brandvold Monorail Station… all before we will see a Jolly Roger anything.

  10. Dammit, Reader, are you telling me I packed up half my household last night preparing for my big move to Jolly Roger Boulevard, and it’s all for nothing?! Wish I’d have read your comment earlier. But, I guess I should’ve known better from the start — Jolly Roger Boulevard is a long way off. After all, we’ll have to wait through the naming of Pat Fiacco Drive, Pat Fiacco Crescent, Pat Fiacco Blvd, Pat Fiacco Parkway, Pat Fiacco Tourism Hub, Bay, Terrace, Walk, etc, etc first. And, then we’ll have a round of Roughrider king Jim Hopson street names. And king of the universe Brad Wall street names. Jayzus, I’m moving to Lemberg. Question of the Day: why isn’t there a Prairie Dog Lane? I’d live there forsure! Let’s get that lobby effort going, people! I’m serious. Stephen LaRose — work your magic!

  11. I can think of several other First Nationals far worthier of having streets or neighbourhoods named for them than Mr. Ahenakew. Judging by the list in the link, there’s at least four such, probably more that I didn’t see.

    As for “Cree”…that’s not their name for themselves. What they call themselves is “Nēhilawē”, and one hopes that name does get added to the geography of Regina should their local representatives consent to the idea.

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