Friday, December 17, 2010

Signed, Gladstone and Bank

My keen observational skills, combined with a two-year archive of photos of a an intersection, helped me piece together a little puzzle at Bank and Gladstone that I came upon while preparing the post on 433 Bank Street.

Here's a shot of the intersection in question in December 2008. At the time, my intent was to photograph the Metropolitan Bible Church, but we also can see three street signs for Gladstone Avenue, at the NW (closest), SW (partly obscured) and SE (furthest) corners. It may not be apparent in this photo, but all three signs have a typo: they read "av. Gladstone Av." instead of "Ave." for the English name.

In the photo above, the Bank and Gladstone signs at the southeast corner were on the same post. The sign at the SW corner--the corner with the Esso station--is on the street side of the post. By June 2009, seen below, it had been flipped around to the building side of the post. The bundle of wires (which were there to accommodate the many changes to the traffic signals during last year's reconstruction of Bank Street) suggests a motivation. The Bank and Gladstone signs are at the same height. Gas is listed at 94.2 cents per litre, but the station is actually closed for repairs.

There are two extra holes on the far side of the sign, but the sign is nevertheless backwards (the arrow on the street numbers is pointing the wrong way). My guess is that the two new holes were drilled so that the sign could be flipped to use the new holes, but that the installers didn't bother to remove it from the mount to flip the sign.

In mid-October 2009, the Gladstone sign was flipped back to the street side, and the jumble of wires are gone. The Gladstone and Bank signs are at different levels, and gas is at 88.9. We know it's the same sign because it has the two holes.

Looking up at the intersection from McLeod street in mid-November 2010, the sign on the northwest corner was moved to a different pole and is facing away from Bank street. It's very definitely not visible from the southbound lanes on Bank.

That same month, a new "av. Gladstone Ave." (sic) sign appeared at the southeast corner--clearly a new sign. It's attached to the metal pole on this corner. Here's a photo of it on February 20, 2010, with the Metropolitan Bible Church facade in the middle of the street. Of course, at the time I wasn't taking a picture of the sign!

The Bank street sign on the east side had been relocated to the North corner. The "Gladstone Av." sign at the northwest corner had been returned to a position where it is visible from the southbound lanes on Bank.

In March 2010, there was some work going on at the southeast corner. The metal pole (being held up by the crane) was either being removed, installed, or relocated.

Meanwhile, here in late May as above in March, the Gladstone sign with the spare holes on the southwest side appears to have disappeared. Gas is still hovering around 94 cents per litre. (Okay, this picture is somewhat redundant, but I really like this shot of the Central's tower crane)

The sign at the southeast corner was moved to the wooden pole, possibly during the exercise in March. The photo below is in August 2010.

The mystery, from your perspective, might be where did these signs end up. For me, the mystery was where did it come from--I already knew where it ended up: in my window!

Appropriately facing Gladstone Avenue. Whatever the original reason for the spare set of holes, they came in very handy in suspending the sign with fishing line.

The other one is presumably still available from where I got this one--on the City of Ottawa's Decommissioned Street Name Signs listing. You can buy used signs for ten dollars, tax in, and pick them up at the Traffic Operations Division building on Loretta. But they're big. The photo above might be deceiving, as the window opening is around 60" wide, making the sign about four feet long (though this is a larger size of sign).

I posted a three-part tour of those facilities in March 2009. In the second part I showed their decommissioned street signs.

The sign itself is neat to own--especially living on Gladstone--and it's that much more interesting that I was able to track a bit of its history (even though, as one of the blue signs, it's no older than the City's amalgamation in 2001).

This story also demonstrates the usefulness of taking lots of photos, because you never know what little detail in the background might be useful.


  1. I really enjoyed the change in scenery (+gas price) over time and what you wrote in the last paragraph. Also thanks for sharing the link of decommissioned street sign listing. I should definitely get one although there is no stock for Metcalfe st. Oh well haha.


  2. I'm surprised they just didn't paste on a correction. The av Woodward Ave. sign at Kirkwood has prom/Dr. underneath.

  3. Ken - keep looking. They update the listing every few months, though there isn't any roadwork near Metcalfe anytime soon that would necessitate changing a sign. Metcalfe is slated to be the next street to be reconstructed, however, after Bronson in ~2012-2014.

    Curtis - of the three original misspelled signs, one was replaced, one was removed, and one was left. There are now only two signs at this intersection. I think the replacement had more to do with the extra holes than with the typo, since one of the mistyped signs is still up there. It's also possible that the other decommissioned sign was damaged.