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The Legend of Letchworth
by Mary Jane Starr - Mainstreeter - Summer 1999

What's in a name? Quite a lot actually. Pride, frustration, commitment, concern. Or so say the residents of one of Ottawa East's shortest streets. A short street with a long, honourable, and to some, exasperating name, Letchworth Road. The Road is parallel to Clegg Avenue and runs from Marlowe Avenue to Brantwood Park. '

Last summer, the street's denizens gathered to debate the virtues of their address. At the 1st Annual Letchworth Road Street Party and Name Change Conspiracy, talk ran high among the young and old who call the seventeen addresses home. By and large, it was the newer residents who voiced their frustration about the name. According to these detractors, Letchworth is an address that causes raised eyebrows, snickering, and an almost invariably a demand to 'please
spell that'. In contrast, the old guard expressed satisfaction with, the name having become inured, one suspects, to the constant need to spell their address.

Following a spirited debate, a vote was taken which suggested that, for the time being, the street would retain its original designation. But with plans already afoot for the 2nd Annual Letchworth Road Street Party and Name Change Conspiracy, those who favour the existing name would do well to begin marshaling their arguments., One can be certain that those seeking change the name will be busy this winter preparing their renewed bid for something simpler and easier.

''There is no official version of how the street came to be named Letchworth Road", according to the dean of Letchworth Road residents, Art Buser. He cites the findings of Ottawa historians, Lucien Brault and A.H.D. Ross. They suggest the probable source of the name is Letchworth State Park in New York. The park took its name from William

P. Letchworth who moved to Genesee country and fell in love with the land on his first visit. By the time of his death in 1859, he had acquired 1,000 acres, property which he deeded to the State of New York as a park.

Mr. Buser, however, suggests the street could have been named after the City of Letchworth in England. The city was the first and one of only two planned garden cities to be built, originally intended as a suburb of London. The Garden City Association, led by Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928), aimed to create an ideal city, combining-big city living with healthy rural life. Letchworth city exists today, much as it was planned.

And Letchworth Road remains, as originally named. At least, until this summer.

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