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Street Names: Children playing in the hills provided name for Echo Road

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George Mathewson

Sarnia’s streets are named for many things, but likely only one of them can be traced to a happy sound.

Prior to 1950, the land that comprises the schoolyards of Northern Collegiate and Errol Road School was a mix of farmland and rolling oak hills.

Owned by John and Myrtle Harkins, the 36 acres produced grapes, melons and tomatoes, as well as gravel dug from pits located where the two school buildings are today.

The Harkins children and other neighbourhood kids would congregate on a meadow east of the farm to play, organize baseball games and roast wieners over a fire.

So when Myrtle Harkins bought that strip of land in 1952 for a housing development, the cries and shouts of children playing in the hills came to mind when she named the new street Echo Road.

“You could go outside and shout and get an echo there, although I don’t know why,” said daughter Priscilla Harkins. “And she had too many kids (seven) to name it after one of them.”

The north end of Indian Road wasn’t surveyed until 1947, and Harkins remembers building rafts to cross the water-filled gravel pit where Errol Road School is today.

Two rolling, tree-covered sand dune ridges rose 20 feet in the air – providing toboggan hills in winter. One of them stood about where Northern’s running track is today.

The origins of Echo Road were confirmed last week by researchers Randy Evans and Tom St. Amand for the Sarnia Street Name Project.

So far, the pair has compiled info on more than 400 streets gathered from historical sources and 170 residents.

The goal is to create a free, online resource available to everyone at the city’s official website, and possibly a book for schools and libraries.

“The neat thing is a lot of the stories have explanations that we couldn’t have found in any history book,” St. Amand said.

To help with its completion, the Sarnia Community Foundation has just approved a $1,500 grant for the project.

A long list of streets still remain a mystery, include Conrad, Porter and McCaw, Flamingo and Allandale Drive, Lecaron, Isabella and Prentice Avenue, and Frances and Mary’s Lane in Bright’s Grove.

Anyone with any information about those or other streets can email it to [email protected]













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