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Street Names: Everest Court named for a long, hard climb

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George Mathewson

Sarnia’s Everest Court was officially named after Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.

But there’s more to the story. The street’s name is also a subtle dig at city hall.

In the 1960s, developer Ivan Mater was having a heck of a time getting Sarnia’s planning department to approve a subdivision he proposed for land north of Maxwell Street and west of Indian Road.

It had been a garden centre and nursery and the neighbours on Southern Avenue were loath to lose their green space. They lobbied city hall hard.

“I had to hire a planning director just to get that subdivision built,” Mater said of his two-year fight with municipal planners.

“It was terrible. I thought, just getting it approved was like climbing Mount Everest.”

Everest Court is one of seven city streets named by Mater, whose imprint on Sarnia is extensive.

Over a four-decade period he built homes and apartment buildings, commercial buildings and industrial parks.

He built Sarnia’s first major motel – The Holiday – on the Golden Mile in 1951 and oversaw construction of Sarnia General Hospital.

His street names include Mater Drive, Westmount Drive and Northwood Drive (“I was searching for a name and it was in the north end.”)

Ivan Mater
Ivan Mater

Hillary Street recognizes Sir Edmund Hillary, who became the first to summit Mount Everest with Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay.

In the 1970s, Mater developed an industrial park in the south end and named its access roads after a pair of governor generals he admires: Georges Vanier and Roland Michener.

A naval veteran of the Second World War, Mater, 95, still drives his own car around town and attends regular meetings of the Golden “K” Kiwanis Club, of which he is a founding member.

There have been bumps along the way, though.

Mater was project manager and one of five financial partners behind Hiawatha Horse Park. He lost his investment in that one, he said.

“If you’re ambitious and do things, sometimes you get caught. But it’s a beautiful track and a beautiful facility. That was my last big job.”

– With files from Tom St. Amand and Randy Evans


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