I heard St. George Street was not, in fact, named after the dragon slayer of British lore
I heard St. George Street was not, in fact, named after the dragon slayer of British lore. So who was it named after?—Elliot Joseph, Oakville
Despite the fact that staid old Toronto was, for much of its early life, as anglophile as a city could be, St. George Street was named after French royalist Laurent Quetton. He fled his native country during the Revolution, landing safely in England on April 23, St. George’s Day. In gratitude, he added the saint’s name to his own. Laurent Quetton St. George sailed for the New World in 1798 with a contingent of aristocratic French exiles who planned to set up a colony, Windham, along Yonge, in what is now Richmond Hill: the plan failed (it turns out bluebloods don’t like clearing their own timber). But Quetton St. George kept at it, becoming a fur trader, then a prominent businessman and provisioner, and eventually built Toronto’s first brick house at King and Frederick (it survived until 1904). He returned to France after Napoleon met his Waterloo, but he was remembered by his well-to-do friends in town. When Dr. William Baldwin developed Spadina Avenue and its environs in 1836, he made sure that a little street—and, later, a subway interchange and an entire university campus—would bear his friend’s adopted name.