Hewers of wood, namers of streets after trees


The Larch I was playing around with Where the Streets Have Your Name and became curious about the frequency of street names in Canada.

Using some open data sources, I was able to pull together a list of the most-common street names in Canada (long and tedious bit about the methodology appears below the table).

Oddly, “Second” is the most frequent street name in towns, villages and cities across the country. This seems counterintuitive until you realize that “First Street” is usually the main drag in a town and prone to renaming, often for a local hero or something bland imposed by provincial authorities.

Thus, what should be called First Street in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, is now Mitchell Street. Instead of First Street in Denzil, Saskatchewan, there is Highway 676.

The remaining numbered streets follow Benford’s Law, so there are fewer Fifths than Fourths and Ninths than Eighths.

The top of the list also includes the blancmange Main and Park, of course, but a unique Canadian quirk is Railway so high on the list. This is due to the number of towns that sprung up along the Canadian Pacific Railway line, particularly on the Prairies.

Victoria is also a nice reference to our former Queen, in keeping with the era in which many of Canada’s smaller towns acquired proper street names.

And then there are the trees: Maple (and des Erables), Pine (des Pins), Birch, Spruce, Cedar, Willow, Poplar. Monty Python fans will be disappointed that “The Larch” does not make the top 200. There’s only 87 Larch streets.

 

 

Rank Street Number
1 Second 1891
2 First 1833
3 Third 1540
4 Fourth 1237
5 Main 972
6 Fifth 875
7 Sixth 858
8 Park 781
9 Seventh 738
10 Railway 714
11 Maple 710
12 Pine 535
13 Church 523
14 Birch 516
15 Victoria 513
16 Eighth 506
17 Spruce 499
18 King 498
19 Cedar 489
20 Ninth 465
21 Willow 444
22 Tenth 443
23 Poplar 437
24 River 422
25 Sunset 420
26 Elm 408
27 Centre 403
28 Queen 382
29 Mill 373
30 Oak 366
31 Lakeview 337
32 George 321
33 James 319
34 de l’Eglise 316
35 Smith 311
36 Albert 307
37 des Erables 299
38 William 293
39 Martin 285
40 North 284
41 Campbell 278
42 Elizabeth 276
43 John 276
44 Riverside 276
45 Wilson 272
46 Aspen 271
47 Principale 263
48 Charles 254
49 Lake 253
50 des Pins 251
51 Scott 251
52 Wellington 251
53 Nelson 249
54 du Parc 248
55 Taylor 247
56 Ross 246
57 Beach 245
58 Forest 245
59 Hillcrest 243
60 Bayview 241
61 50th 240
62 Evergreen 240
63 49th 238
64 Saint-Joseph 238
65 Thompson 238
66 Water 238
67 Hillside 237
68 Bellevue 235
69 West 235
70 Fraser 233
71 Cameron 232
72 48th 231
73 Douglas 231
74 51st 226
75 des Cedres 226
76 52nd 224
77 Riverview 222
78 Hill 220
79 Centennial 219
80 Eleventh 217
81 16th 216
82 Thomas 214
83 des Bouleaux 212
84 Highland 212
85 Ash 208
86 Station 208
87 Roy 205
88 Richard 204
89 Robert 202
90 53rd 199
91 MacDonald 199
92 Hamilton 195
93 Murray 195
94 Robinson 195
95 Johnson 193
96 Alexander 192
97 du Moulin 192
98 Lakeshore 191
99 Saint-Pierre 190
100 Anderson 189
101 Arthur 188
102 Elgin 188
103 Gordon 187
104 Heritage 187
105 47th 186
106 Mary 186
107 Churchill 184
108 East 184
109 South 184
110 Miller 183
111 Edward 182
112 Princess 182
113 Woodland 182
114 Champlain 181
115 Stewart 181
116 York 181
117 Balsam 180
118 Industrial 179
119 Meadow 179
120 5th 178
121 Young 178
122 Brown 177
123 Juniper 177
124 Laurier 177
125 Front 176
126 Twelfth 175
127 Stanley 174
128 School 173
129 du Lac 172
130 Kennedy 172
131 55th 171
132 Rose 171
133 de la Montagne 170
134 Hemlock 170
135 Saint-Louis 170
136 Graham 169
137 de la Rivi?re 167
138 Green 166
139 Henry 166
140 Bay 165
141 Walker 165
142 Airport 164
143 Eagle 164
144 Ridge 162
145 Mountain 160
146 Alder 158
147 Baker 157
148 Bell 157
149 Chestnut 157
150 Orchard 157
151 David 155
152 Russell 155
153 Sunrise 153
154 Gagnon 152
155 Union 152
156 Davis 151
157 Parkview 151
158 Clark 150
159 Grant 150
160 Kelly 150
161 45 149
162 46 149
163 Sherwood 149
164 Dufferin 148
165 Valley 148
166 Garden 147
167 54 146
168 McDonald 146
169 Greenwood 145
170 13 144
171 15 144
172 Cherry 144
173 Lorne 143
174 Mitchell 143
175 Moore 143
176 Ontario 143
177 Saint-Jean 143
178 Wallace 143
179 Bernard 142
180 Cartier 142
181 Fairview 142
182 Tamarack 142
183 Lakeside 141
184 Beaver 140
185 du Ruisseau 140
186 Morin 140
187 Bridge 139
188 Raymond 139
189 Prince 138
190 Broadway 137
191 Walnut 136
192 High 135
193 Jackson 135
194 Pleasant 135
195 Cemetery 134
196 des Saules 134
197 Jones 134
198 Royal 134
199 20 132
200 Cardinal 132

Methodology: I thought pulling together this list would be a relatively simple task, but it was surprisingly complex. I couldn’t find any open-data sources with a full list of street names across the entire country. The best I could do was an enormous map file (an .shp) called the National Roads Network.
I imported this 250 MB file into ArcMap, a GIS program and found that while it includes what appears to be every street in the country, it doesn’t identify the community in which it is located. Worse, many streets list in the file are broken down into multiple segements, so Bank Street in Ottawa is listed multiple times and difficult to distinguish from Bank Place in Kamloops.

In order to sort this list, I needed to assign each street to its nearest town, village or city. Here, ArcMap was indispensable. I used a “spatial join” to calculate the distance of several million street segments to the nearest community. Even on a fast computer, this took a while.

Once each street segment was assigned its closest community, I exported the records to MySQL and used a GROUP BY to cluster the streets by community, then count the number of unique records you see listed above.

The approach in not perfect. Ideally, I would have had shapefiles with polygons for the boundaries of every community in the country. That’s not available for free, yet.

So, the number counts are probably not perfect, but close enough for fun. * Note: For the sake of simplicity, French and English versions of numbered streets were counted together, so that Second, 2nd, and 2e are grouped.

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