Who Is Frances Loring?


6 minute read

November 7, 2011

Have you been down to the townhouse complex at Broadview & Dundas lately?

All the streets are named after women, and I’m curious to know who these ladies are… 

I’ve often mused that the city of Toronto is home to some pretty silly street names, primarily in the evil CityPlace neighbourhood, but it seems as if the trend has spread towards other areas of the city.

Maybe the whole point of this post is moot, since anybody could stand up and say, “You know, there’s not exactly an infinite amount of street names to choose from.”  And others might add that Queen, King, Front, and the like are all boring since every city has those.

Many cities have noticeable themes to the street names, some which are lame, and some which seem to fit.

When I was growing up, our family skied in Park City, Utah, and much of the area was relatively new.  The two main streets in Park Meadows were “Lucky John Drive” and “Little Kate Road.”  We never knew who John & Kate were, but we could only assume they were part of some folklore or perhaps some of Park City’s proud history.

Many of the other street names took on the wild west, gold-rush theme.  There was “Doc Holliday Drive,” “Prospector Avenue,” “Iron Horse Avenue,” “American Saddler Road,” and a host of others.

But a lame new sub-division took on names such as “Twilight Court,” “Evening Star Drive,” “Sunset Court,” and “Lakeview Drive.”  These are all corny things you might expect to see if you’re a tourist who has come to admire the evening sky.  Huh – evening sky!  What about that?  “Evening Sky Crescent” would be a great name!  I should really consider switching jobs…

While I find that to be cheesy, I find Toronto’s Beaches area to be kind of neat.

Balsam Avenue, Pine Crescent, Pine Avenue, Beech Avenue, Willow Avenue, Silver Birch Avenue, Hazel Avenue, and Fir Avenue don’t seem nearly as lame to me, but perhaps that’s because they’re well mixed with Lee, Waverley, Hammersmith, and some of the other better-known Beaches streets.

The theme can be really lame as is the case in many touristy spots like Park City, or it can be really neat and historic like in The Beaches.

Then there are the streets that are named after actual people, as is the case in many cities across the world.

Sometimes you have to be a big deal to get a street named after you, and sometimes you might be some guy that played 500 NHL games but happened to come from a town of 95 people where they only have four streets and one of them might as well be named after a 4th line winger who played parts of nine sub-par seasons and was traded six times.

What do you have to do to have a street named after you?

Is it necessary to be well-known?  Popular?  Or is it about the public service?  Sacrifice for your country?  Innovation?

There is a townhouse complex over near Broadview & Dundas that’s maybe 2-3 years old at most, and it wasn’t until last week that I had occasion to show condos in there (because the complex is such a dump – but that’s a topic for another day…).

I was amazed and delighted (for blog purposes) to see a common theme among the street names: they’re all named after people, more specifically women, who I can only assume were great Canadians?

The complex itself is a maze, and it’s tough to remember “Frances Loring” when you’re thinking “Florence Wyle.”  It’s not exactly “King Street” and “Queen Street” is it?

I went home and did some research, and here’s what I found:

Frances Loring Lane

Frances Loring was a sculptor who was originally born in Idaho in 1887, but relocated to Toronto where she lived most of her life.

She is best known for helping to design a monument that marked the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Way.  Both Her Majesty Elizabeth and His Majesty King George VI were present at the opening in 1939, just as war was breaking out in Europe. 

You might recognize the monument seen here:

This monument originally sat at the eastern entrance to the QEW, but was relocated to Sir Casimir Gzowski Park in 1975 when the highway was being re-constructed.

Loring is also known for her statue of Robert Borden in Ottawa:

Florence Wyle Lane

Coincidence?  I think not!

Florence Wyle and Frances Loring were life-long partners, both sculptors, who met at the Art Institute of Chicago and eventually moved to Toronto where they remained for the duration of their careers.

Florence Wyle helped her partner Frances Loring with the sculpting of the lion monument seen above, but she was also well known for her “Mother and Children” sculpture which is prominently displayed at the C.N.E.:

What I find incredible – actually kind of a mix of romantic and sad really – is that Frances Loring passed away in February of 1968, and her partner, Florence Wyle, passed away only months later that same year.

Is this true love?  When your partner dies, you die of a broken heart?  Wow, my heart just trembled a little bit as I wrote this.

Doris Anderson Way

Doris Anderson passed away in 2007 – just before streets in the Broadview/Dundas townhouse complex were named after these great Canadian women.

Anderson was a Canadian author and journalist, but she was better known as a woman’s rights activist.  She began fighting for women’s rights in the early 1960’s when she helped create the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, whose report and subsequent findings launched Canada’s feminist revolution. 

Her tireless actions culminated with the addition of women’s rights to the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms in 1981.

Her degrees and distinctions are numerous, but most notably, she was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1974, and was promoted to Companion in 2002.  She was also given honourary degrees from the University of Alberta, the University of Waterloo, and Simon Fraser University.

Before her political beginnings, she was editor of Chatelaine magazine between 1957 and 1977, and later she returned to journalism as she wrote a column for The Toronto Star from 1984 to 1993.

She was the chancellor of the University of Price Edward Island from 1992 to 1996, and in 1998 she served as the chair of the Ontario Press Council.

What a life.

What an impact!

What a lady.

Kay Macpherson Lane

Kay Macpherson was a Canadian peace activist and feminist who passed away in 1999.

Born in England in 1913, she eventually immigrated to Canada in 1935.

This was an excerpt from the Canadian Press when she passed away:

In the mid-1960s when many Canadian women were at home making tuna casseroles and waxing the kitchen floor, Kay Macpherson was languishing in a French jail.   She, along with a dozen other peace demonstrators, had tried to present a statement to the secretary general of NATO during a 1964 conference in Paris.   They were protesting a proposal for a multilateral force that would allow any NATO naval commander to press the nuclear button whenever he deemed necessary. For their trouble, they were locked up. 

Like Doris Anderson, Macpherson also ran unsuccessfully for political office.  She ran under the Feminist Party the first time around, and then joined the NDP in 1973 and tried three times to get a seat in the House of Commons.

Here is a quote from Ms. Macpherson:

“I am convinced that co-operation, non-violence and equal rights must form the base for future society. We have to move away from threats, “deterrence,” violence and war if we are to survive. I believe that a key element will be the participation of women in the decisions that affect us all.”

Mary Ann Shadd Lane

Mary Ann Shadd was the oldest of the women mentioned above to have a street named after her.  Born in 1823, she passed away in 1893 before most of the other women were born.

Shadd was an author and a political activist who campaigned for both women’s rights and against racial discrimination.

She escaped the United States in the late 1850’s after new laws threatened to return freed blacks to slavery, and ended up in Windsor, Ontario with her brother – one of twelve siblings.  She eventually relocated to Toronto and founded “The Provincial Freeman” newspaper in 1853 out of an office on King Street where Jarvis is today.  The paper continued until 1859 until she moved back to the United States.

Shadd married a Canadian man in 1856 and the couple moved to Chatham, Ontario where she taught school.

After her husband’s death in 1860, she returned to the United States to help recruit black volunteers for the Union Army in the Civil War.


I’m not going to lie – when I first saw these street names, I made fun of them a little bit.

“Who are these people?” I chuckled with my client.

It took me about three hours to research the five ladies mentioned above and to provide these write-ups, and I’m very pleased that I took the time to do so.

Any time you learn about Canada’s history and the people who helped shape it, I think it’s time well spent.

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Joe Q.

    at 10:14 am

    Really nice post David. Thanks for taking the time to do the research.

    Where you really see strange choices of street names is in areas that grew rapidly, i.e. the suburbs. I grew up in Scarborough in a 1960s-era neighbourhood (Agincourt) where all of the streets were named after people or places from “Henry V” by Shakespeare. Perhaps for obvious reasons. Could’ve been worse.

    On the subject of street names, here’s a link to a fascinating 1916 street map of Toronto. Notice how much smaller the city was then — and how many of the streets we know and love have changed names, been extended, re-routed, linked up, etc. Dundas is a great example (in 1916 its eastern terminus was at what is now Ossington and Queen).


  2. Moonbeam!

    at 11:10 am

    Great to see these women get overdue recognition. In Scarborough there’s a boring tradition of naming schools after boring and undistinguished school board officials, .. John A. Leslie, J.G. Workman, Charles Gordon, George Peck, Anson Taylor, CD Farquarson… who are these men and why did they get a school named after them and where are the women??

  3. George

    at 9:49 pm

    I would like the trend a lot more if they would just use the person’s last name. There is something really annoying about living on or travelling to a three or four word street.

  4. Krupo

    at 4:03 pm

    One of your best posts

  5. Dale Colleen

    at 1:46 pm

    The neighbourhood you refer to has a name Rivertowne (formerly Don Mount Court) and I’m curious to know why you refer to it as a dump. I’m working with Rivertowne residents to create a theatrical walk which will include residents performing as the women after whom the streets are named. The date for the performance isn’t set yet, but it will be in late July of this year (2012) to coincide with the opening of the new Joel Weeks Park (which was named after a boy who drowned in the Don River 30 years ago).
    If you want more info on the performance, contact me at dale@hsfx.ca

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