Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Changing Names

Over the last two weeks, Montreal has been quietly changing street signs for University Street to Robert Bourassa Blvd.  There had been a brief but vocal protest last year when the proposed change was announced, but the city paid no attention as there were other "more important" issues happening at the time.

I strongly dislike the city's habit of changing street names to suit itself.  Not only do the homes and businesses along said street have to change all their letterheads and address information, but tourists who visit using older maps and non-updated apps will see the old name and wonder where the heck they are.  It's not very friendly.

The major thoroughfare Dorchester Blvd which had been called so since 1844, had its name changed in 1987 to honour the deceased former premier of Quebec, Rene Levesque.  This was seen as a purely political move since Levesque's main goal was to separate Quebec from Canada.  Incensed, the community of Westmount refused to change its portion of the road and it remains Dorchester Blvd to this day.

University Street has the same history, having been inaugurated in 1842 and named for McGill University which sits at its northern end.  And now it's gone, replaced by the name of another Quebec premier whose pro-French legislations were the forerunners of the now-hated Bill 101 which strictly limits the use of English in the province.

It's clear that the city (not to mention the province) is trying to eradicate its history.  English street names are disappearing.  English businesses are forced to remove apostrophes from their names and display French products.  Historical buildings that were once owned by English people are allowed to decay to the extent that they end up being demolished.  History textbooks are being rewritten to minimize the English involvement in the development of New France.

It's sad.

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