Street Stories

Berkeley Street

Next time you're taking a stroll along Berkeley Street, think Gloucestershire, England, vicious rumours and an old fashioned duel. 
Of course, the street's original name didn't have quite a dramatic back-story.  Initially it was called Parliament St. because the first Parliament buildings in Toronto were built on a spot just south of where Berkeley and Front intersect today.
Enter one Major John Small (1746-1831), who was the Clerk of the Executive Council of Upper Canada. Small owned one of the first houses in the city, which he named after his hometown of Berkeley, in Gloucestershire, England.  Although history generally looks upon Small as a hospitable, friendly chap, he is also remembered for a duel he fought in 1800 with his neighbour, Attorney General John White.  Apparently, White was spreading not-so-flattering rumours about Mrs. Small, so Mr. Small issued the challenge. This resulted in one death, and one murder trial for Small, of which he was acquitted.
Small's original house, at the corner of Berkeley and King, was demolished in 1925.
Source: Toronto Street Names, by Leonard Wise & Allan Gould

Poulett Street

I know what you're thinking. Some kind of French-Canadian connection with a chicken.   Regretfully that is not the case.

In fact, one Lord Sydenham (1799-1841) was Governor General of British North America for only two years, but in that time he was able to profoundly influence the history of our country. It seems that our boy - let's call him Syd for now - was a politician who convinced legislature to acccept a union of sorts between Upper and Lower Canada. He also introduced "a fierce program of anglicization" in Quebec. Yikes! Well, as you can imagine, that lead to a bit of resentment among the French. So, history seems to look upon this gentleman as a bit of a trouble-maker of sorts, yet he left his mark. See, originally Shuter Street was named Sydenham Street, and  Sydenham Lane? You guessed it. Poulett Street. So, what was Lord Sydenham's actual name?  Charles Edward Poulett Thomson.

And now you know for certain that the correct spelling is/should be Poulett, not Poulette.

Source: Toronto Street Names: An Illustrated Guide to Their Origins, by Leonard Wise, Allan Gould


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