Retired principal translates his love for history in Huntsville street names book
Michael Walmsley has always been interested in history, but it was out of a desire to better orient himself in the city that he started a new business: a historical book on the names of the streets of Huntsville.
Walmsley lived in the Huntsville area for approximately 15 years before settling there permanently in 2016.
“Although I know Huntsville a little bit, I have kind of a challenge in terms of directionality, so I decided I’d better learn the streets,” he laughs. This led to an interest in learning where the street names came from.
In the Muskoka Room of the Huntsville Public Library, he began to research the names.
“The first one I ran into Cora Street… I found some information on Cora Shay and it kind of piqued my interest in what was going on at the time and why her name was on that street,” he remembers. “I became really intrigued by her story and it led her siblings who had names on the streets and then spilled over into other names.”
Walmsley is president of the PROBUS Club of Muskoka North. Club members who have lived their entire lives in Huntsville were able to provide more details.
“It was more of a hobby than anything else,” he says. “I started writing short articles about these streets for no one in particular. And then the pandemic happened… I decided to send a weekly email to the members just to keep everyone connected at a time when we couldn’t physically meet and I just decided that some of these Street articles would be appropriate to include in these emails. “
They liked them so much that some of the members encouraged him to publish the articles in a book. This book, Streetscapes: a journey through the history of Huntsville through its road signs, will be in press in early September.
A preview of the cover of Michael Walmsley’s new book
Walmsley starts off with 100 copies to gauge interest and hopes he provides a light and connected Huntsville history through his signage.
“As I discovered during my stay in the Muskoka Room at the Library, Huntsville is truly blessed that many people, well over a century old, have now taken the time to record aspects of the city. I really found it rewarding, ”he says. “I was able to discover some really special little facts because people took the time to talk about them.
“This is also part of the intention of this book. Hopefully this will get some young people interested in the history of the city and why things are called as they are called.
He congratulated those who set up and maintained the Muskoka Room at the library. “They really deserve huge credit for what they do. For people to go there and be able to browse the documents, it is a real living story of all their efforts. Well done to them.
Walmsley shared several excerpts from the book with Huntsville Doppler, which you can read here.
Streetscapes: a journey through the history of Huntsville through its road signs will be available around September 1st. You can order a copy by emailing Michael Walmsley at [email protected] or copies will also be available at The Great Vine (36 Main St. E).
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