The Lanes of Regal Heights

From the Regal Heights Review Fall 2019, Vol I

By Rosabel Fast

When I was a child, my family lived in a small bungalow in the centre of Blumenort, Manitoba. Blumenort’s only street did not have a name so we called it Three Eleven, after Provincial Road 311, which also served as the town’s main street.

Over time, a new street was built in a new development and my family moved into a larger house with a wonderfully large yard with plenty of trees. This street had a proper name, Oakdale Drive. Because every family on Oakdale Drive lived in a new house, it was also called Millionaire Drive by the rest of the Blumenorters.

As we all know, names are important. Giving a place a name gives it an identity. Today I live in a huge city in Ontario, in a wonderful neighbourhood that goes by the posh name of Regal Heights.

Regal Heights’ name reflects the grand view of the city from the top of the Davenport Ridge, which is locally referred to as “Our Escarpment.” Like a growing number of neighbourhoods, Regal Heights has been recently naming its laneways, as a way of honouring notable people who lived here.

Clovis John Brooks Lane

Soon after I moved to Regal Heights, I noted an attractive sign on my street that identified the Clovis John Brooks Lane. Now that’s a regal sounding name, I thought. I wondered who this Clovis John was and how his name was chosen for the narrow laneway that runs north of Regal Road, from the Springmount Steps to Northcliffe Boulevard. Florence Watts, a long-time resident of Regal Heights, worked together with a small group of women to name Clovis John Brooks Lane.

“Clovis John Brooks was a great guy”, said Florence Watts. He was the founder of the Clovis John Brooks Foundation. During the late 1960s Regal Heights experienced an influx of newcomer families from Jamaica. Noting that the newcomers would need assistance, Brooks stepped naturally into the role of provider. He guided the immigrants through their initial settlement and continued giving support as they blended into a new life in a new world.

Over the course of his long, service-filled life Brooks received: the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, Order of Distinction from Jamaica, Medal for Good Citizenship and finally an Honorary Degree from Queen’s University. In 1970, the Oakwood Escarpment Residents’ Association (forerunner of the Regal Heights Residents’ Association) was organized with Brooks’ strong backing.

On April 29, 2008, at the age of 83 years, Clovis John Brooks died. What Regal Heights residents remember so well today, is his generosity and willingness to help those in need. According to Florence Watts, Clovis John Brooks was also an all-round very nice person. “Spending time with him”, she said, “was a pleasure”.

Lt. John Roberts Kenmure Lane

A second Regal Heights lane honours a man who did not get the chance at a long life. Lt. John Roberts Kenmure Lane runs between Mount Royal Avenue and Alberta Avenue, just north of Davenport. It was dedicated in a ceremony on November 15, 2017. The Kenmure family lived at nearby Alberta Avenue from the 1930s until about 1967.

Lt. Kenmure was only one week short of his 24th birthday when he died in World War II near Caen, France on July 20, 1944. He served with the Cameron Highlanders of the Ottawa Machine Gun Unit, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division C. Company, and was part of the D-Day landing on Juno Beach.

Edward McIlwain Lane

On March 19, 2019 a third laneway was named. Edward McIlwain Lane runs from Oakwood Avenue just north of Davenport, emerging between two houses on Regal Road.

Ed, as he was known by everyone, lived on Davenport Road for over 50 years. He and his wife Mary had four daughters who still live in the neighbourhood.

Ed’s occupation was plasterer and he became an artist in his craft. Many homes in Regal Heights still have lovely “Ed Ceilings”. Ed was a friend to everybody and everyone knew of his warm, generous spirit. He was always helping others or contributing to community life. In his later years Ed got a mechanized scooter in order to continue connecting with people and to get around easily. Edward McIIwain died January 18, 2013. As one Regal Heights resident stated, “We were lucky to have known Ed,” a sentiment shared by many.