There are at least three Mile Ends around the world: one in Montreal, one in London and one in Adelaide. All three share some intriguing similarities. As their name would suggest, they are all located fairly close to the centre of their respective cities: Montreal’s Mile End is about three miles north of Place d’Armes, London’s is nearly four miles east of Charing Cross and Adelaide’s is about two miles west of Victoria Square. But what else do they share? Is there some secret Mile End connection between two former colonies and Mother England?
Maybe. Each one began life as a suburb only to evolve into a decidedly inner-city sort of neighbourhood. Each is culturally diverse. Most importantly, though, each of these neighbourhoods were named for perfectly logical local reasons—but it seems clear that their names are all directly related.
To understand the origin of Mile End, you must first turn to the British capital, home to what is, undeniably, the ur-Mile End. Here, the neighbourhood took its name at least seven centuries ago from a milestone marking the spot one mile east of Aldgate, the eastern entrance into the walled City of London. In 1381, this area played host to a peasant’s revolt. Four hundred years later, at the end of the eighteenth century, it had become the Mile End New Town, a bona fide suburb of Georgian London.