Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Ragged Ass Road

This stretch of Canadian road was named after a nickname that stuck so hard the city had to keep it. 

The controversial length of road known as Ragged Ass Road got its name from a couple of drunk prospectors before the city simply gave in and made it official but its original name wasn’t much better.

In 1970, prospector Lou Rocher was sitting around with his drinking buddies after a long, fruitless day of work for very little pay, and jokingly said they should name their street Ragged Ass Road, meaning it was “dirt poor.” While the new moniker may sound crass, the road was known previously as “Privy Road” because it had so many outhouses. This being the case and since Rocher owned six of the nine lots on the infamous road, the local man thought (it seems, correctly) that he should be able to name it. The name quickly caught on, and eventually the city adopted it officially.

Today tourist shops all over Yellowknife sell t-shirts, stickers, and mock street signs bearing the name. The road sign itself was stolen so many times over the years that the city had to resort to welding the thing to its pole to prevent further theft. Ragged Ass Road even made national news in 2012 when a Westjet flight attendant humiliated a passenger by demanding he remove his shirt that depicted the road’s sign.