It’s Upside Down. Do You Think Anyone Will Notice?


Street names in Walkerville can be found in the sidewalks on most corners (photo by me)

They are one of the many quaint and wonderful things to be discovered walking the streets of Olde Walkerville. Look down at almost any corner in this company town founded by Canadian Club distiller Hiram Walker in 1858 for his employees and you’ll see the name of the street engraved in the sidewalk.

With a population of 600 in 1884, the unincorporated village of Walkerville once consisted of just four streets extending north and south, and five running east and west. Probably the first to be laid out was Walker Road or Fifth Street about 1860. West of Walker Road, and parallel, were Fourth, Third and Second Streets (Monmouth, Argyle, and Devonshire). The east-west streets were Sandwich (Riverside), on the riverfront, with Assumption, Brant, Wyandotte and Tuscarora Streets parallel and south of Sandwich Street.

Hiram Walker realized the value of pavements and other public improvements. By 1890, when it was incorporated into a town and Windsor was floundering in the mud,“Walkerville was in the enjoyment of advanced civic conditions, with its cool boulevards, well-kept pavements, adequate sewers, street lighting, gas, waterworks, and all the other comforts that pertains to metropolitan existence.”

If you pay special attention, you can still find “First”, “Second”, “Third” and “Fourth” and “Fifth” Street engraved in the sidewalks in the northern areas of  Olde Walkerville just north and south of Wyandotte Street. These streets were later given more distinguished sounding British names. I can’t find the reference but I believe Hiram’s wife Mary had a hand in that and they would have been renamed before her death in 1870.

Former street names for Richmond and  Chilver can also be tracked down: “Huron” is stamped in at least two corners  – Richmond at Chilver, and then one block west at Windermere. “Victoria” can be found in the older north end of Chilver near Wyandotte. “Victoria” was changed to “Chilver” after 1935 when Walkerville was amalgamated with Windsor to prevent confusion with Windsor’s Victoria Avenue. Chilver was actually called “Susan” even earlier in its history after the mother of the road’s developer, Charles Chilver. A dug up chunk of pavement bearing that name used to rest beside the fence of the Victoria Tavern’s backyard on Chilver at Brant. I took a photo of it about ten years ago and someday I hope I can locate it in our archives.

As you can see from the photo above, the city of Windsor saved this historic chunk of sidewalk when they upgraded the corner of Tuscarora near Wyandotte Street a year or two ago. The incorporation of the old street engravings was done on all the corners of several blocks that received cutouts for wheelchairs. Unfortunately, not all the incorporations of the old sidewalk remnants was successful as evident by this blank slab.

Dumb: engraved street name remnant dropped in upside down (photo by me)

Did the road workers not realize their mistake until it was too late or did they not care? Sadly, there are several other corners where this mistake was duplicated.

Somehow I doubt that Hiram Walker would have ever allowed this to happen.

For more about the early development of the town of Walkerville read “History of Walkerville: 1700-1882 here

Many photos of the early days of Walkerville are featured in our latest local history book, “Windsor Then”.

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About Elaine Weeks

How history was taught in my day: memorize lots of boring dates and facts, watch corny old black & white history films. There was one bright spot, however. Grade 9 history at Walkerville Collegiate with Miss Falls (Georgina) when she taught a section on local history and took us on a field trip to explore some of Windsor's built heritage. Due to a peculiar series of events, celebrating local history became part of my business. My company, (partner is Chris Edwards,) Walkerville Publishing Inc., launched "The Walkerville Times" in 1999, which in due course became "The Times Magazine". Our goal was to make history real. I am a writer, editor, blogger, photographer, mother, wife, sister, activist, traveller, gardener, knitter, masters track & field competitor (when I have time), glass is nearly full person.
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2 Responses to It’s Upside Down. Do You Think Anyone Will Notice?

  1. selainew says:

    That would be great Derek. It kind of boggles the mind to think that they went through all the effort of cutting out the block, creating a hole to insert it into and then not bother to flip it over when they put it in wrong side up. Or, if they knew that it would be impossible to get it out without breaking it or whatever, make sure that it was going in the right way. How hard was it to double check that they had the words on the TOP of the block when they were lowering it in?

  2. Derek Jupp says:

    I Shall Research Who Did Those Repairs… And If.. They Will Be Doing Any More This Spring…
    That Bothers Me Also Elaine..

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