Vancouver Street Names

This afternoon a friend sent a link to origins of Vancouver street names. Researcher Justin McElroy used City of Vancouver open data sets to eliminate numbered avenues/streets and duplicate names to arrive at 651 unique street names.

McElroy determined 90% of named streets had documented stories linked to specific events, persons or things. 62 street names had no discernable origin, names like Adanac (Canada spelled backward) or Little, a one block East Vancouver pipsqueak.  I live on the corner of a numbered avenue and Willow, one of 38 named tree/plant streets. To the east I cross 11 streets named for Canadian provinces, to the west a wave of 20 streets named for military battles. Explorers (31), royalty (20), dead Europeans (28), B.C. places (19), places in the United Kingdom (25), geography (56), industry (22),  B.C. landowners (46), prominent railway persons (27), B.C. politicians (27), golf courses (26), connection to George Vancouver (12), universities (6), indigenous names (11), North American places (8), ships (6), hotels or houses (7), characters in novels by Walter Scott (12), Canadian historical figures (11), civic politicians (28), city/government officials (13), B.C. pioneers (6), forestry (11), business owners (9) miscellaneous persons unrelated to other categories (11) and a police dog named Valiant round out the list.

Valiant Street was named for Valiant, the first of eight Vancouver Police Service Dogs that have died from injuries suffered while on the job. (VPD)

Valiant was Vancouver’s first police dog to perish in the line of duty, shot in 1967 by an escaped prisoner on the run from authorities.

McElroy determined over half of Vancouver’s unique streets fell into 5 categories –

I’ve always taken street names for granted, history didn’t unfold until pausing to ponder nomenclature of the place I call home.

4 thoughts on “Vancouver Street Names

  1. I live in a town called “Divonne les Bains”. I once organized a vernissage for a friend and dig into the history of the town’s name. Turns out the some 2000 years ago the Romans had lived in the area and found a few sources in our town where mountain water bubbled up from underground water courses. As they loved building aqua ducts they routed the water to a neighboring town and referred to the sources and springs as “Divine” due to their freshness and purity. Hence was born the name Divonne. Later someone turned the town into a wellspring resort with baths etc and added “les Bains” (baths in French) to the town’s name. For most of those 2000 years there would have been less than 200 people living here but that name survived the eons.

  2. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a street name that was something spelled backwards, nor the name of an animal, though it sounds like Valiant deserved to be commemorated.

    While walking in Heidelberg, Germany many years ago, I went past a street called Fahrtgasse. It’s a perfectly innocuous name in German but a bit startling to an American. I’ve wondered occasionally whether they ever changed the name as knowledge of English became more pervasive, but your post prompted me to check Google Maps and the name is still there.

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