In December Susan Mackie was looking for ways to continue our outreach program and help our community with COVID-safe entertainment. Susan thinks a lot about being safe. That is her job. She keeps us all informed of the changing rules and regulations and she keeps us operational, getting the work done that needs to be done behind the scenes.

Susan posted an old Salmon Arm Walkabout first published decades ago. Marg Shand had done the original map and Museum members had organized a tour. Of course the businesses referenced had changed over the years, so I updated it in 2013 and loaded it as a public resource on our website.

There have been a lot of comments on the page.

One came to me through the GM. She’d received the question. “This is yours,” Susan added when she forwarded the email to me.

A museum friend offered some feedback and asked the obvious. What was going on with the bracketed street names?

She wrote, “I have just printed off the map and the text. I am wondering why the map has some of the streets and/or avenues listed as both Shuswap Avenue (Shuswap St.); First Avenue (1st St.); Second Ave (2nd St.); Third Ave (3rd St.); Fifth Ave. (5th St.)

When did these Avenues get changed into Streets?????

I was of the understanding that streets always ran primarily north and south and avenues ran primarily east and west. Was this not always the case and hence the change eventually?????”

These are a very good questions. The bracketed names are current names, I responded.

When Salmon Arm was first laid out in 1906, it did not conform to the norm described – streets run north/south and avenues east/west. When did Salmon Arm ever conform?

Fast forward to 1973.

There was a move afoot for several years to set the matter straight. The Municipal Council at the time seemed not to have considered that the community’s roads did not run north south and east west like a regular grid. The community curves around a lake and many of its roads do as well. The Council of the day did agree, however, that the names of old (un numbered) streets and avenues downtown would be preserved i.e. Hudson St. and Alexander Ave. in the downtown core.

The subject was a topic in Denis Marshall’s book Salmon Arm’s Historic Routes and the people behind the names published in 1995. Members of the Salmon Arm Museum Association and Salmon Arm Branch of the Okanagan Historical Society still talk about the change decades later. Another group, the City of Salmon Arm Community Heritage Commission, started a road sign program installing historic signs that are on some of the old streets. As a member, I had hoped to raise awareness of the old names. Call me old fashioned, but the old names are important because they have a connection to the past. They help give a community character.

For me it was personal. My two nieces’ great grandmother, Ethel Belli-Bivar, was one of those who spoke to the Municipal Council about this matter. She also was a museum member.

“The whole idea is stupid; old names mean something, numbers don’t.” When Mayor Martin Budziak tried to defend the proposal as a practical plan for the times, Mrs. Bivar said she could see no point in re-naming the streets for the benefit of a bunch of strangers who were “too stupid to follow direction.”

This is my chuckle of the day. I wish I had been there! She was one gutsy lady.