York Street gets its name from that “Grand Old Duke of York” referenced in the familiar children’s nursery rhyme. When Colonel By founded Bytown and laid out the street plan for Lowertown, Prince Frederick, second son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, was the Duke of York and Albany. Although this duke died in 1827, the title lives on in Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
In Colonel By’s early plan, York Street was 120 feet wide and was the only thoroughfare other than Rideau to extend to King Street (now King Edward Avenue). In the 1840s, York Street was the dividing line for Lowertown’s two political wards. In 1850, money was allocated to build a plank sidewalk on the south side and to macadamize the roadway with a layer of stone compacted by a dust and water mixture. Around 1909, York Street was opened for traffic from King Street to Chapel Street.
In the 1930s, the Slover’s department store (now Mother Tucker’s Marketplace) had everything desired by “most fastidious people”. Whether shopping, eating, or drinking, York Street is worth a stroll from end to end. And as you walk, look around and think of Colonel By’s original plan and of a fitting future for this Lowertown village street.
This article first appeared in the February 2015 Lowertown Echo | L’Echo de la Basse-Ville