In October 2017, Meghan Sheffield and Nicole Beatty asked Council to rename Langevin Pier because it was named after Sir Hector Langevin who was a major advocate for Canada’s residential school system for indigenous children. Langevin Pier is more commonly called the West Headland and there is no known usage of the Langevin name by the Town. Meghan and Nicole asked that the Town “consult with Alderville Elders and Chief Marsden on what indigenous name the West Pier should bear”. Wally Keeler then suggested in a letter to Council that the West Pier be named after Susanna Moodie – he subsequently made a delegation to Council recommending the East Pier be named after Susanna Moodie. The idea was referred to Staff for a report that never happened.
Then in June of this year, Meghan once again asked for a renaming; Council agreed and asked Jamie to report. So at the Committee of the Whole meeting on August 23, Jamie Kramer, Accessibility Coordinator, will once again raise the issue. Since then, she has consulted with Chief Dave Mowat from Alderville First Nations.
Jamie reports that Chief Mowat stated that:
The removal of the name was what Alderville wanted to see and his recommendation for a name/naming convention for the area was to call it the “West Headlands,” as it was colloquially known. He noted that no one in Alderville felt a strong connection to the West Headlands area and, as such, he did not think it would be appropriate to use an Indigenous name or language to name the area. Further, he noted that he thought it would be best to not name this, or any other area, after a specific person as it can generally lead to having to go through a renaming process as we are currently seeing.
The photo was taken in October 2019. The sign reads: “In Case of Emergency call 911. The Address Is The West Pier Cobourg Ontario” – notably NOT Langevin Pier.
However, in her report to Council Jamie says that:
The best option is to keep a colloquial name for the West Headlands for the time being while the Stewardship Study is being conducted. Once this Stewardship Study is conducted, it is recommended that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee be consulted about the future consideration of the name of the entire area as a Nature Park.
In doing this work, Jamie found
(There are) other areas in Cobourg named after other historical figures that played a significant impact in residential schools or other historical events that impacted marginalized communities in a negative way. As such, it is recommended that a full audit of all areas in Cobourg be conducted and the removal of these names, plaques, and other signage attributed to these figures be done as soon as possible.
Jamie recently conducted a survey (now past the original close date) to help get public input on developing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy for the Town. As part of the survey description she lists her progress to date:
- The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee
- Indigenous Traditional Land Acknowledgement
- Joining the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities
- Women in Governance: Leadership and Mentoring Program and Speaker Series
- Adding Personal Pronouns to Town of Cobourg Staff’s Email Signatures
Items 2 – 5 are described on a Town Web site page here.
It’s not clear what effect any of the renaming effort will have. There is no actual usage of the Langevin name in the Town although it does appear on unrelated web sites (see links below). Chief Mowat does not want the headland to be given an indigenous name. Non-Town web sites are not likely to change their description of history – you cannot retroactively change history.
Earlier Cobourg News Blog Reports
- Report on first delegation by Meghan Sheffield and Nicole Beatty – 25 Sept 2017 – best article for background
- Should Langevin Pier be renamed after Susanna Moodie – 30 September 2017 – includes reports on what actually happened at Council meeting.
- Renaming Langevin Pier – 8 June 2021
Places where Langevin Pier is mentioned online
- Sessional Papers of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, Volume 23, Issue 13 – 1890 – Google Books – page 98 – additional references found by this search.
- Cobourg History – Waterfront History – as referenced by Meghan and Nicole in 2017
- Cobourg east pierhead – on Lighthouse Friends web site
- Virtual Museum – on Community Stories web site
- A Google search will find multiple places where there are reports about this subject.