Mortimer Abramsky (1927 – 2009), a long-time advocate for Queen’s and Old Kingston, initiated the creation of a Historic Streets brochure (PDF 900 KB) to record the historic street names around the campus. His vision and passion for ‘Stuartsville‘ – the neighbourhood in which he was raised – inspired this legacy of street names and places. This is the content from that brochure.
The United Empire Loyalists, who arrived in King’s Town in 1784, left an indelible impression on their adopted city through the naming of the streets. This is evident on Queen’s campus. Names such as Albert, Stuart, and Deacon Walk reveal high esteem for the statesmen, soldiers, and the monarchy of Great Britain.
As Queen’s University has developed and transformed over the years, some street names have changed and some streets have disappeared – a clear reflection of the events and activities that have shaped Queen’s University.
Many of these streets were named long before formal municipal planning and record keeping, making it difficult in some cases to determine the precise origins of their names.
Speculation and debate over the meaning of various street names has intrigued local historians and members of the Queen’s community over the decades. This lively debate is captured here as part of an effort to preserve the heritage that has defined and shaped the Queen’s campus.
In 1784, the United Empire Loyalists arrived in the frontier community of King’s Town, Ontario.
In recognition of his status as Bishop Emissary of the Church of England and Chaplain of the King’s Royal Regiment, the Reverend John Stuart received a 200-acre plot of land west of King’s Town in 1785. The piece of land was known as Lot 24.
Upon his death in 1811, Lot 24 was inherited by his son, Archdeacon George Okill Stuart. Okill Stuart appears not to have been a modest person. In total, he named five streets after himself within the boundaries of ‘Stuartsville.
On land inherited from his father, Archdeacon Okill Stuart constructed a country villa between 1836 and 1839. Originally intended to be the Archdeacon’s personal home, he decided to offer Summerhill as accommodation for government officials, when Kingston was chosen as the capital of the new Province of Canada in 1841. When Parliament was moved to Montreal in 1844, Summerhill was used for government offices and as a grammar school before it was ultimately sold to Queen’s College in 1853.
Aberdeen Street: Named for John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen, and his wife, Lady Aberdeen. He was Governor General of Canada, 1893-98.
Albert Street: Named for Prince Albert, Duke of Saxe-Cobourg and Gotha. He was married to Queen Victoria in 1840, and remained her consort until his death in 1860.
Alfred Street: Named after Alfred Ernest Albert (1844-1900), Duke of Saxe- Cobourg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh. He was the second son of Queen Victoria. The street’s lower part was built over when the Mackintosh-Corry complex was constructed in the early 1970s.
Arch Street: One of five streets named for Archdeacon George Okill Stuart. It was at one time called Seaton Street after Sir John Colborne, First Baron Seaton.
Bader Lane: Once named Alice Street, it was changed to Queen’s Cresent, and became Bader Lane in 2004, to honour Alfred Bader, Queen’s most generous benefactor, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This is the only Queen’s Campus street that is currently owned by the University, and not the City of Kingston.
Barrie Street: Named for Sir Robert Barrie, the senior naval officer in Upper Canada and Lower Canada, and commissioner of the dockyard at Kingston, 1819-34.
Brock Street: Named for Major-General Isaac Brock, Commander-in- Chief and Administrator of the Government of Upper Canada during the War of 1812. He died at the Battle of Queenston Heights.
Clergy Street: There is debate whether “clergy” was derived from the street’s proximity to the Clergy Land Reserve or from the numerous churches in the area.
Colborne Street: Sir John Colborne was Lieutenant- Governor of Upper Canada, 1828-36. On March 7, 1842, the first classes at Queen’s were held in a small frame house at 67Colborne Street. Two professors, Principal Thomas Liddell and Peter Colin Campbell, and 13 male students were present.
College Street: Named because it runs along the site, originally intended to be Queen’s campus. In 1840, 50 acres of land were purchased by Queen’s College. The land was sold off, piece by piece between 1840 and 1878 when the college could not afford to build on the land.
Deacon Walk: Named for Archdeacon George Okill Stuart. Once Deacon Street, it now serves as a pathway between Biosciences Complex and Abramsky Hall. It was closed as a road in 1999.
Division Street: This is the former demarcation line between concession lots 1 and 2, which ran north from present-day King Street West. It is also believed to have been the “division” between the town and countryside.
Earl Street: Named for Anne Earl, Wife of Commander Earl of the Professional Navy 1812-1815. Prior to 1842, this street was called Centre Street, then changed to Arthur, for Sir George Arthur, who was Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1838-41. In 1850 it was changed to Earl Street.
Elgin Lane: A short, unofficial street north of Union between Barrie and Division, sometimes called Miller Lane. It disappeared with the construction of Goodwin Hall. A pedestrian walkway remains today in its place between Goodwin and Walter Light Halls.
Fifth Field Company Lane: This street was once Campus Road but renamed Fifth Field Company Lane in 1998. These lands were purchased by Queen’s in 1901. In 1908, the Queen’s Engineering Society created the Fifth Field Company (FFC) of the Canadian Military. The FFC was the only Company in Canada made up solely of university engineers and was the first Company to be deployed to England in 1914. Most who survived returned to Queen’s after the war to finish their degrees.
Founders’ Row: A tree-lined pedestrian road leading from Stuart Street to Theological Hall, officially named in 1881 to commemorate the 26 founding trustees of Queen’s.
Frontenac Street: Named for Louis de Buade, Count Frontenac (1620-98), Governor of New France 1672-82 and 1689-98. In July 1673 he established Fort Frontenac, at present day Kingston, which became an important military and trading post for the French.
St. Lawrence Avenue: Named for the St. Lawrence River, flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. lower university avenue An offset extension of University Avenue towards Lake Ontario.
McGibbon Walk: The walkway between Ontario Hall and Douglas Library was named in 2008 to honour Queen’s alumni Jack and Elizabeth McGibbon, who helped fund the University Avenue revitalization project.
Okill Street: Named for Archdeacon George Okill Stuart. Part of the street (which no longer exists) angled West and South to join with King Street. Kingston General Hospital is now in its place.
Professors' Walk: The pathway east of University Avenue between Kingston Hall and Kingston Field was formally named in 2008 by Patrick McNally (Sci’39), a donor to the University Avenue revitalization project, in honour of the professors at Queen’s in the 1930s.
Stuart Street: Named for Archdeacon George Okill Stuart. Part of this street was originally called Herchmer because it passed through land belonging to one of the original Loyalist landowners of 1784 and then to Reverend William Herchmer.
Union Street: It is presumed that Union was named in commemoration of the Union Act passed in 1840 that united Upper and Lower Canada. university avenue This central artery of Queen’s Campus was named Gordon Street (after its surveyor Colonel Gordon R.E.) until 1890, when it was changed to University.
1785: Following the arrival of the Loyalists in Kingston, Reverend John Stuart and John Herchmer are given lots of land on the present-day Queen’s campus
1840-1850: ’Stuartsville‘ developed, roughly bordered by Barrie, Union, and Collingwood Streets
1841: Queen’s College founded
1838: Kingston incorporated as a town
1853: Queen’s moves campus to current site with the purchase of Summerhill
1928: Queen’s expands north of Union with purchase of Orphans’ Home (current site of JDUC, previously the Students’ Memorial Union)
1958: Queen’s expropriates land on Stuart Street and University Avenue with intention of shifting new growth west of University Avenue
1985: City of Kingston gives the University, Queen’s Crescent (renamed Bader Lane in 2004) and Deacon Street (now a pedestrian walk)
2008: Professors’ Walk is dedicated