Friday, June 5, 2015

A Love of Literature

Today Sir Walter Scott's literary works are mainly used in high school and university reading lists but in his day, his works were so popular and influential in the development of the novel. Thus giving Sir Scott  his present position in learned shrines.

Scott's 'Waverly' novels were originally published anonymously and achieved great success before he revealed he was the author. Scott's wealth allowed him to purchase the Scottish estate Abbotsford. He lost the estate and much of his wealth when his publisher went bankrupt. However, a new crop of books gave Sir Scott more money and he was able to repurchase Abbotsford.

You may be wondering what do the works of an author - who died in 1832, 54 years before Vancouver was incorporated - have to do with this city? Well, Sir Scott's popularity continued, especially with Vancouver city engineer, William B. Young.

Between 1929 and 1932, Young renamed several city streets in the Little Mountain/South Vancouver area and he chose names after characters and titles in Scott's novels.

As you may remember, Vancouver and Point Grey amalgamated in 1929. This caused some confusion due to the irregular development of South Vancouver roads. It was an interesting problem for civic engineering.

Many of the numbered streets didn't match or meet up. For example, the street now called Waverly was originally East 49th and it lay between East 47th and East 48th. Talk about confusing! A renaming was definitely in order.

Young got to work.  Dandle Dinmont, a character in Scott's novel Guy Mannering, inspired Dinmont Avenue; the title character in the book Quentin Durward lent his name to Durward Avenue (prior to the amalgamation, this was known, unofficially, as Stretch Road after homesteaders Thomas and Catherine Stretch); there is Ivanhoe Street after the novel of the same name; Mannering Avenue - refer to the first part of this sentence for an explanation there; Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field produced Marmion Avenue.

The Waverly novel, The Heart of Midlothian provoked Midlothian Avenue. Midlothian, by the way, is a Scottish district near Edinburgh. Nigel Avenue comes from the Waverly novel, The Fortunes of Nigel; Peveril of the Peak has a main character Sir Geoffrey Peveril of Derbyshire so Vancouver has a street named Peveril Avenue. Then there is Talisman Avenue, Waverly Avenue and Woodstock Avenue, all named after novel titles. There was a Robsart Avenue, which was named after the character Amy Robsart from the novel Kenilworth but it was eliminated when the Capilano Stadium - now Nat Bailey Stadium - was built.

So that is a look at how a knowledge and appreciation for fine literature helped form Vancouver. I would like to say thank you to the book Namely Vancouver by Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

No comments:

Post a Comment