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From Dingle Bingle Hill to Bergen-Op-Zoom, Nanaimo B.C.’s unusual street names

Click to play video: 'Bizarre Nanaimo street names focus of museum exhibit'
Bizarre Nanaimo street names focus of museum exhibit
If you live in or have driven through, Nanaimo you've probably noticed something quite unusual - the street names. As Kylie Stanton reports, oddball roads like Twiggly Wiggly and Jingle Pot can be traced back to the city's very colourful "pirate" mayor - Frank Ney – May 30, 2022

It’s no secret that the City of Nanaimo B.C. has some unusual street names.

A new exhibit of the names is now on display at the Nanaimo Museum, put together by a group of history students at Vancouver Island University (VIU).

Dr. Katharine Rollwagen, a professor at VIU, said last semester she was working with another professor at the university, Dr. Kelly Black, both teaching history, and they decided they wanted to work together on a project involving Nanaimo.

So they came up with the idea of researching individual street names in the city.

“History is around us all the time but we don’t think about where these names come from,” Rollwagen said.

“Definitely in the 1960s and 70s, that was Frank Ney. He was the mayor, he was also really big into real estate development so he was in a position where he got to pick what these names should be.”

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Rollwagen said Ney had a large family and he often got the chance to name streets after his family members.

For example, Twiggly Wiggly Road was named after one of Ney’s daughters who was nicknamed Twiggy, after the famous British supermodel in the 1960s. Rollwagen said the young girl was also often squirming in her car seat going up the road to the old Green Mountain Ski Lodge. So that’s when Ney decided on the unusual name, she added.

Rollwagen said the project has received a lot of attention and it’s an important part of Nanaimo’s history.

Some other unusual street names include Bergen-Op-Zoom Drive and Giggleswick Place.

“I always knew that many of the streets in the old city of Nanaimo were named after different directors of the coal mining and land companies but I didn’t realize there are multiple streets that are named after the same person,” Rollwagen added.

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For example, the explorer and politician Lord Milton Fitzwilliam has multiple streets named after him, she explained.

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“I’ve lived in a couple of different places and I would say Nanaimo definitely has the most wide variety of unusual names,” she said. “I still don’t know where Dingle Bingle Hill comes from.”

The exhibit at the Nanaimo Museum is on until June 25.

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