In October 2009, nearly two hundred potential names for the area east of the Junction and north of Roncesvalles were chalked along the West Toronto Railpath. Photo by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.
Torontoist would like to give a big shout out to all our readers in the Junction Triangle. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of the Junction Triangle? What kind of Torontonian are you? Go back to Mississauga and never darken our door again.
Kidding! You’re forgiven. Local residents in this west Toronto location, tucked in a sliver just east of the Junction and north of Roncesvalles, have voted to call their area the Junction Triangle, thanks to a year-long initiative called Fuzzy Boundaries run by a group of local residents. The results, from an online vote that closed on Sunday, were just announced this morning—Junction Triangle won handily, with almost fifty percent of the 674 votes cast selecting it as a first, second, or third choice of the ten finalists.
Kevin Putnam, who helps to run the campaign’s website, told Torontoist: “The neighbourhood needs a name for a number of reasons. A name binds the area together. I live on Perth Avenue and I have a friend who lives on Campbell, but we can’t say where we live, because there is no commonly agreed upon name for the neighbourhood—just streets close by each other.”
Names have power, he adds. “Binding an area together with a name creates an identity and people take ownership of things they identify with and it creates a sense of pride.” Now that everybody knows that they live in the Junction Triangle, people are more likely to take ownership of their communities and invest in them, a particularly good thing if people want a say in the Metrolinx extension, which runs right beside the area.
Over 230 name suggestions were received since the start of the project last spring. At the end of January, the long list was whittled down to ten. Some residents were not happy, such as Jack Fava, who told the Globe and Mail that the naming project was going over the heads of older residents. But a publicity parade was held on Sunday to get door-to-door votes from people with no internet connection (or those who simply didn’t know).
And many of the suggestions themselves have caused controversy: “The Wedge,” for instance, which was eighth out of the final ten. “I am not sure I would be happy to live in a neighbourhood named for a popular school-yard torture tactic,” says one local. Another suggestion, “Black Oak Triangle,” was lauded online, until someone pointed out it was nonsense, as there were few black oaks in the area. You can’t keep everybody happy.
But Junction Triangle it is. So, the next question is, where is it, exactly? The thing is, no two people fully agree—hence the fuzzy nature of the boundary. Still, here’s the approximate area, outlined in Google. (You’ll have to imagine the fuzziness yourself. Rub some Vaseline on your screen, or something.)
You’ll notice that our friendly Californian panopticon has already decided on a name for this area: Silverthorn. But believe it or not, Google is wrong. Silverthorn is, in actual fact, a double-figured number of blocks away over at Keele and Eglinton West.
And this illustrates an important point: the new name is not binding, it’s not going in a register, and there’s no guarantee it will stick. As Putnam points out, “The city is littered with neighbourhoods that have street signs with names, such as Bloordale or Bloorcourt, that residents have no connection to and don’t use.” Take the notorious Jane and Finch, for instance: any mention of that name is like a magic spell to lock the doors of all cars passing through within a three-block radius. Yet, many residents didn’t take kindly to the area being rebranded University Heights.
But, as Putnam says, “With so much vacant industrial land, our neighbourhood is prime for re-development. Before a developer comes into the area and imposes a name—another fake village—we are trying to get ahead of the process and let residents choose a name.” Fuzzy Boundaries will work with developers who do come in and help them embrace the community’s suggestion.
This is probably a good idea. Toronto itself was renamed from York, 176 years ago. If the power to dub Toronto neighbourhoods were given over to real estate developers, you may as well just rename the city “Greater Metropolis of Forest Hill” and be done with it.