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Food & Drink

Why do we say Spa-DEE-na House, but Spa-DIE-na Road?

Dear Urban Decoder: Why do we say Spa-DEE-na House, but Spa-DIE-na Road?—Alexis Boul, Riverdale

In 1818, doctor, lawyer and politician William Baldwin built a simple, wood-framed house on his 200-acre property a few kilometres out of town. He named his estate after the Ojibwa word “espadinong,” meaning “small hill.” When Dominion Bank founder James Austin bought the estate from Baldwin’s heirs almost 50 years later, he retained the name, but built a grander home that is the Spa-DEE-na House we know today. No one seems to know exactly how the street’s pronunciation got bastardized over the years, but history geeks are the only ones who would be caught dead riding the Spa-DEE-na streetcar.

Wondering about the waterfront? Curious about construction? Perplexed by politics? Ask the Urban Decoder a question here.

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