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Our maudits anglais forefathers


 

The county of Amherst in the Laurentians is holding a referendum to change its name to something a little more palatable. Apparently, this General Jeffrey Amherst character from whom it took its current name wasn’t exactly a beacon of goodwill and civility. In fact, his tactic of handing out smallpox-contaminated blankets to Aboriginals—killing thousands as a result—is thought to have been among the first uses of biological warfare. (Meantime, some well-meaning Montrealers are trying to get Amherst street in the city’s gay village renamed to “Rue Domagaia” for the same reason.)

Residents have until September 30 to make their voices heard on the subject. Not surprisingly, some already have. Residents of one of the county’s villages, Saint-Rémi-d’Amherst, are opposed to the name change because of its historic link to the town’s mining-related deaths of the 1940’s.

Renaming things has a curious way of igniting passions in Quebec, and not just when it involves genocidal British generals. Consider how little was made in Ontario of the rather lame “Highway of Heroes” designation that was applied to a stretch of the 401 last year. Now compare that to the collective panty-wetting over the following efforts:

Though I’ve never felt strongly about this kind of stuff, I humbly suggest that, while we’re on this historical kick, perhaps we can do something about that unfortunate Duplessis monument in Quebec City.


 

Our maudits anglais forefathers

  1. French Canada should be grateful to Jeffrey Amherst, the slowest-moving general in the whole Seven Years War (which is saying something!). His complete failure to march on Montreal (he doddled, or something) in 1759 allowed Lévis the chance to attack Quebec in 1760 and win the Battle of Ste.-Foy.

    As to the whole biological warfare thing, well, the gloves were off in that war, as is well known. The Americans still have the Rangers, after all, who are the organisational descendents of Roger’s Rangers, the guys who in the winter of 1759/60 tried to wipe out the Abenaki at Odinak. All this was reprisal for the fairly appalling “genocidal” warfare pursued by Governor Vaudreuil from 1756 onward, which featured massacres from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts. Let’s just say the Geneva Conventions, besides not being invented yet, were sort of on hold for a few years.

  2. In Quebec, we recently named Highway 20 the ‘Route de Souvenir’, and the signs have a poppy on them . . . no passions aroused as far as I can recall.

    For me it should be interesting when M. Parizeau shuffles off his mortal coil. Traditionally Montreal names something after deceased premiers. In light of his ‘Money & Ethnic votes’ comment, my vote would go renaming Blvd de L’Acadie, especially the stretch separating Town of Mount Royal (Money) and Parc Extension (the Ethnic vote). They can even christen the fence ‘La cloture Parizeau’.

  3. Also, Autoroute Duplessis, AKA the 540, AKA Highway to Hell.

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