• Ed Brown

My Flemingdon Park: Where the Streets Have New Names

From its inception, Flemingdon Park was a planned neighbourhood. Nothing was left to chance. From postal service to policing, placement of parks, design of sidewalks, location of housing to site selection for the plaza and public school, everything down to the smallest detail was considered ahead of time. So, it comes as a surprise to learn a last-minute change to street names occurred for no apparent reason.

From 1959 master plan of Flemingdon Park

In March of 1959, when Webin Community Consultants submitted a master plan to the Township of North York Planning Board containing detailed descriptions of the future neighbourhood, they originally settled on a series of street names with a decidedly indigenous theme like Manitou Drive and Mohawk Place. Another street that never came to fruition, Cibola Court, appears to be of Spanish origin, while the source of Pannet Road remains unknown.


Except for the weak argument First Nations' terms were difficult for Canadians to pronounce, for reasons never explained, township planning board officials tossed out indigenous names altogether. Webin Community Consultants were sent scrambling back to the drawing board to dream up nine new street names (eight in the final tally).


Taking another crack at it, Grenoble and Vendome were approved. Also accepted was Flemingdon Avenue. Then without reason, for a second time, all proposed street names were shelved. Flemingdon Avenue probably got the kibosh on account similar-sounding Flemington Road already existed in North York.

With construction underway, the developer came under pressure to dream up original street names. The master plan had called for decidedly Canadian-themed monikers. They scoured biographies, history books, and geographies unique to this country. Five-thousand names were tabled. Eventually, the number was reduced to forty-four.


In the end, Flemingdon Park went to France for inspiration, settling on placenames from that country except for Dufresne Place. Dufresne is a surname derived from the French for an ash tree.


Why French placenames for Flemingdon Park's initial nine streets when the original plan had been to go with a Canadiana theme?


There are a few possible explanations for this choice. In 1960, when this decision was playing out, Grenoble, France announced their bid to host the 1968 Winter Olympics. Another possible explanation relates to the influence Flemingdon Park financier William Zeckendorf played. At the same time Flemingdon Park was being constructed, one province east another of his development companies, Trizec Properties, was breaking ground in Montreal on Place Ville Marie, a skyscraper and shopping complex.


The question remains, were French street names selected to appease the project's primary investor?


The second phase in the neighbourhood's development saw the construction of the industrial estate on land surrounding Wynford Drive. Three additional streets were laid. Continuing the tradition, Gervais Drive might be named for St Gervais near Grenoble, France, but no proof of this exists. Wynford, the anglicized form of the Welsh word Gwynfor, means fair lord. It is unknown why it was applied to the kilometre and a half street in north-end Flemingdon Park in 1962.

Controversy surrounded the naming of Garamond Court.

Known initially as Laronda Street, three influential printers with operations in the area, CCH Canadain Ltd., R.L. Crain Ltd., and Oxford University Press, protested the name, claiming it "portrayed unfavourable extramarital relations."


La Ronda was a controversial 1950 French film based on an even older play about lewd sexual encounters amongst married persons. When Garamond, named for the Frenchman responsible for the font's design, was proposed by the printers, a member of the Township of North York Planning Board quipped, "We'd better check to make sure Garamond didn't have any extramarital relations."


Construction in the early 1970s introduced a raft of new street names.


Chapel Glen Village and Flemingdon Woods Condominiums were announced in 1967. Chapel Glen Village influenced the names Sunny Glenway and Leeward Glenway. Four streets in the vicinity of Flemingdon Park Golf Club, Edgecliff, Club, Shady and Windy, were fittingly coupled with Golfway. The Flemingdon Woods Condominium development (today it has been incorrectly renamed Wynford Park Condominiums) introduced two peculiar street names, Pavane and Vicora Linkway. A pavane describes a courtly dance of French origin popular in centuries past. Vicora appears to be an invented word. The road running parallel to the Don Valley Parkway to the east laid in 1975 was named Linkwood Lane.

In 1986 the roadway that spans the Don Valley Parkway east of Grenoble Drive was aptly named Spanbridge Road.


In this century, development in the neighbourhood has occurred in the Ferrand Road-St Dennis Drive vicinity. The newest street names, including Windom Road and Sonic Way, were conceived by developers. Seton Park Road honours nineteenth-century naturalist writer and nearby park namesake, Ernest Thompson Seton. Wilket Creek Road recognizes the creek and park of the same name immediately north of E.T. Seton Park.


 

Ed Brown lived in Flemingdon Park at 58 Grenoble Drive from 1969-1991


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