Whitewater will change road names and consider others

·8 min read

Whitewater Region – Two roads in Whitewater Region are undergoing name changes over the next few months while others are under discussion.

As of November, if everything goes accordingly, Indian Road will be known as Perretton Road and Meadow Road in Beachburg will be known as Meadowview Drive.

Gypsy Lane near Cobden will retain its name; there could be a potential name change for Bromley Street in Cobden and the request to change Mineview Road to Ferguson Road was denied.

These were all issues discussed at the September 15 council following reports by Chief Administrative officer Robert Tremblay.

Indian Road to Perretton Road

Mr. Tremblay explained that just over a year ago, Cathy Phanenhour brought to council’s attention how the name Indian is offensive and suggested some new names, including Anishinaabe.

At that time, he advised council the municipality did not have a road naming policy, and staff was directed to create one.

This past June, council approved a road naming policy that does state names should portray a strong positive image and have historical, cultural, indigenous, or social significance or contributions to the community, township, the Province of Ontario, or Canada. They should not be or perceived to be discriminatory or derogatory. Names shall not impair the ability of First Responders to respond to emergencies or impact the township’s ability to deliver services.

Staff then notified residents on Indian Road about the possible name change and if any of them had suggestions different than Anishinaabe to send a letter to council.

In response, council received a petition signed by 29 residents requesting the name be changed to Perretton Road. The petition notes that Perretton was a small community formed in 1801 just near the end of what is currently known as Indian Road. There are many small communities in Whitewater Region that have a road named after them, and since Perretton church and school house are still standing not far from the intersection of Indian and Beachburg roads, it would seem fitting to name it Perretton.

Lee Torvi, who has lived on Indian Road for 45 years, and Brenna Jansen, both wrote in favour of the road being named Anishinaabe.

Ms. Torvi cited four reasons, including that people in the area have long believed the name Indian Road was chosen to recognize the road as or near a First Nations portage route; Anishinaabe recognizes the ancient history of the area; the name is easy to sound out and spell; and that Europeans who settled on First Nations land chose place names in their own language, usually referring to familiar places and people.

Ms. Jansen suggested people can practice how to pronounce and spell it.

She wrote, “What if we learned what it meant, and taught our kids what it means and how to say it, and spell it, and why we changed it. Why don’t we petition the leaders in our community to create – with the guidance of the local Algonquins of Pikwakanagan community – material to help us to understand, pronounce, spell; an online resource, a mail-out, a colouring page with kid-friendly messaging, a social media campaign to educate. What if we just gave a little after taking so damned much for so damned long.”

Bill Pinkerton was against the name change, writing there has not been a problem in the past and by bringing the issue to the table council just opened a can of worms.

“I did not find the word Indian offensive, and neither did the people having Indigenous backgrounds living on our road. Up until now, I have had no issues with Indigenous people but to change the name to Anishinaabe you have just created a hate between my family and the Indigenous.”

He agreed with changing the name to Perretton, as it would erase all racism from any party.

“If the township insists on Anishinaabe, then I am going to take offence to the word white and request the township change their name. Why is it that white people are the only ones called racists, when we can be called white trash, whitey, honey, but that’s okay.”

Meadow Drive to Meadowview Drive

As for Meadow Drive being changed to Meadowview Drive, Mr. Tremblay said no correspondence was received from any of the residents.

Gypsy Lane

Gypsy Lane, which had been under consideration for a new name, will remain. Mr. Tremblay noted Annette Gilchrist, who is one of two property owners on this short road, said neither of the owners wanted the name changed.

In her email to council, she noted that “Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are legally recognized as ethnic groups, and protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act and the Human Rights Act. She also pointed out there are Gypsy Moths on their property.

“…we have moths the size of your hand at my house also named Gypsy. It is not an offensive name for the moth so should not be considered offensive for the road,” she wrote.

While the name Rathwell Lane was suggested by staff, she provided seven other options if council insisted on the road name being changed. They included Harold, Cecil, Sherry, Christopher, Steven, Susan and Mabel.

Mr. Tremblay said once council approves the new names, a public notice will be placed in the weekly block ad and by-laws will be brought in. Then, the County of Renfrew and Ministry of Transportation will be advised.

When questioned about financial implications of changing the road names, Mr. Tremblay said it will be less than $2,500 for the township to make the changes, while for residents, most changes of address are done for free.

“We will provide a checklist attached to a letter to tell them how to change the name,” he said. “In most cases, there is no cost to change the name on a driver’s licence, insurance and other bills.”

As for the land deed, the name change by-law will be registered on title, Mr. Tremblay said.

Mineview Road

Council also discussed a letter from Mineview Road resident Alice Ferguson, suggesting that her road be renamed to Ferguson Road, “to honour the memory of a family who promoted hard work, perseverance, community support and good citizenship.”

She noted Mineview has no relevance as the mine is closed and the school, which was known as Ross Mineview Public School, has been closed for several years.

Ms. Ferguson provided a history of the Ferguson family, including the farm she and husband Jack reside on has been in their family since 1900; Mr. Ferguson was a municipal council member from 1978 to 2010 and she was an elementary school teacher at Ross Mineview for 30 years.

Mr. Tremblay said staff is not recommending a name change since Ferguson would be a duplicate road name within the county and there are 83 properties that would have to change their addresses.

“We can look at other ways to remember the Ferguson family,” he said, suggesting the new park in the Haley townsite as a possibility.

Councillor Neil Nicholson said it was great residents are providing input regarding the name changes.

“Although I can’t support this in the way requested, the initiative is awesome,” he said. “Maybe we’ll find a way, maybe we won’t.

“But, this is the kind of participation we want to solicit from our public to make sure we’re changing what needs to be changed and not accepting things as is,” Coun. Nicholson said.

Bromley Street

Bromley Street in Cobden is one of the next township roads to have a possible name change.

Mr. Tremblay informed council that as far as they know, it’s the “only other one in the township that is a duplicate” name, since there is a Bromley Line in the northern part of the township.

He noted if an emergency responder went to Bromley Street instead of Bromley Line, or vice versa, it could mean a delay of at least 40 minutes.

In his report to council, Mr. Tremblay noted on Bromley Street, there are 15 properties, including 11 entrances, and it runs from John to Crawford streets. Bromley Line runs from Rapid Road near Westmeath to Lacroix Bay Road near LaPasse and intersects with Wright, Malloy, Morglans Trail and Nicolai, and there are 41 properties with 20 entrances.

Mr. Tremblay said residents of Bromley Street could be advised of why the township is suggesting a name change and ask for replacement names. He suggested students at Cobden District Public School might even have ideas.

“If council approves, we’ll go to the residents and get feedback,” he said.

Councillor Dave Mackay noted that Bromley Street is an old street in Cobden and possibly named after someone very prominent. He suggested that instead of changing from Bromley, just adding whoever was named after it to the front, example John Bromley Street.

While Mayor Mike Moore wasn’t sure there would be records going back that far, Mr. Tremblay suggested local historians could offer help in that area.

Coun. Nicholson said reaching out to the public is the right approach.

He said there may be some confusion in road names, “but before we decide by our own volition to change the name to something else, sending it out and asking for input from the public is the way to go.

“Let’s ask the people how to do it.”

Council agreed that residents should be informed of a potential renaming of Bromley Street in Cobden.

Christine Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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