Saturday, December 18, 2004

Party Favours

In studying for my final exam, covering Britain between 1840-1993, I realized something: Ottawa has a street named for repeat British Liberal PM William Gladstone, among the many Anglophilic names hereabouts - Wellington, Albert, Queen, Metcalfe, Lisgar, Elgin, Kent, Sussex, Gloucester, and dozens of others. Yet there's no street named for his perennial Tory rival Benjamin Disraeli. I smell some Liberal patronage in Middle Ottawan history, here; I have no references handy at the moment, but I know Gladstone Ave. - one of the few original streets outside of the neighbourhoods of Lowertown and Lebreton Flats up until the turn of the 20th century - was named something entirely different for much of the city's history. Was Disraeli consciously shunned by local members of the parti rouge in solidarity with their British brethren? If ever I decide to become a full-time municipally-obsessed loon, I think I may petition City Council to rename a street in Centretown to match Gladstone. Bay, maybe. It has a bland enough name, and certainly none of the cachet of its Torontonian twin. Who'd miss it?

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