Renaming Langevin Pier

In September 2017, Meghan Sheffield and Nicole Beatty (as a citizen) plus Chief Jim Bob Marsden, then Chief of Alderville First Nation, made a delegation to Council to change the official name of the West headland from Langevin Pier to something that does not recall Langevin’s role as a “chief architect of Canada’s residential school system.” (Wally Keeler then suggested that the “pier” be renamed after Susanna Moodie).  The recent discovery of 215 graves has given a renewed impetus to renaming so at Monday’s regular Council meeting, Meghan Sheffield once again asked Council to look at renaming and once again asked that this be done in “partnership and consultation with the local indigenous community”.  After the original delegation, Council referred the matter to Staff for a report but this was delayed and nothing happened.

West Headland
West Headland

Since the West Headland is not commonly referred to as “Langevin Pier”, and there’s no plaque there, it’s not an urgent issue although Langevin did have quite offensive views (see Canadian Encyclopedia Link below).  The residential school system had the aim of eliminating aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will.  Langevin specifically argued in favour of removing children from their parents and family in order to speed assimilation.

To be clear, the Headland was not named after Langevin because he supported splitting indigenous families but simply because he was the Minister of Works at the time (1878 – 1891) – the Federal government paid for two thirds of the work. 

Re common usage of the name: The photo above was taken in October 2019.  The sign reads: “In Case of Emergency call 911.  The Address Is The West Pier Cobourg Ontario”.

After  some discussion, Council agreed with Meghan and passed the following motion 7 – 0:

Recommended action that the delegation be received for information

AND FURTHER THAT the reference to Hector-Louis Langevin’s name in historic association and/or formal naming of the West Headlands/Pier be removed immediately

AND FURTHER THAT Council direct the Accessibility Coordinator to investigate options for renaming the West Headlands/Pier in consultation with the local Indigenous community as part of the Town’s ongoing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Undoing or modifying places on the Internet where the Langevin Pier naming occurs will be difficult – except for the Cobourg History Site which I manage.   It’s not known where the Headland is “formally” named in the Town’s records – as Town Clerk Brent Larmer said “I need to do some research”.


A sample of places on the Internet where Langevin Pier is mentioned

Plus a number of news articles about renaming requests – do a Google search for “Langevin Pier” – including the quotation marks.

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ben burd
10 June 2021 8:23 am

Seems like a meaningless political stunt to me made by local ‘backyard’ pols. Nobody knew what the Langevin Pier was or even existed. What official documents needed to be amended? Call it by the name that the locals have used for decades – the West Pier.

9 June 2021 11:53 am

I have to say, I expected to see a lot more comments on here bemoaning supposed “cancel culture” and affected hand-wringing over the “attempts to erase our history,” with a subsequent flurry of upward thumbs,

If this story had been posted about 2 weeks ago they’d be there.

Maybe some progress is starting. At the very least the room’s being read.

9 June 2021 10:17 am

Biggest response by far on this thread:

Why do you have to name a pier after someone? Why not just west pier and east pier?
+55 -1

…and counting.

Frank Godfrey
Reply to  JimT
9 June 2021 12:48 pm

In my memory which goes back 60+ years it’s been commonly called the West Pier.

9 June 2021 9:14 am

The West Pier is more than appropriate and should offend no one.

9 June 2021 8:55 am

Lets pick some thing that will not refer to any individuals or nations that way we can not possibly get it Wrong .
Who knows if Susana Moodie ever offended any one My family is distantly related
and I can say its possible .
Why not Firecracker Point

Reply to  Sandpiper
9 June 2021 9:10 am

The ‘west pier’ is just fine!

Reply to  Ken
9 June 2021 9:16 am

You get my vote on “West Pier”.

8 June 2021 3:04 pm

The above link should lead to harbour notes by Percy Climo. See bottom of page 6 and parts of page 7 for information directly related to the west pier at about the time Langevin is involved. And, there is a map marked 1874 available from the same web site. This map is likely the one referenced in the Climo notes.

And, it seems that the pier subject of the Langevin connection has long since gone. However, the current day discussion may be an opportunity for education and acknowledgement.

Edit note: I had the wrong link posted and have now corrected it.

Last edited 1 year ago by MiriamM
Wally Keeler
8 June 2021 1:32 pm

(Wally Keeler then suggested that the “pier” be renamed after Susanna Moodie).

Should read, (Wally Keeler then suggested that the :”east pier” be renamed after Susanna Moodie)

Reply to  Wally Keeler
8 June 2021 4:17 pm

Why do you have to name a pier after someone? Why not just west pier and east pier?

Reply to  Wally Keeler
9 June 2021 10:35 am

We might, in consultation with the people of Alderville, use Anishnabeg words for east and west piers or something suitable. Wouldn’t hurt us to add some indigenous words to our vocabulary

Reply to  Wally Keeler
9 June 2021 10:49 am

Why would anyone downvote a comment such as yours that merely attempts to set the record straight?

Hafta wonder just what inspires some people.

Last edited 1 year ago by JimT
ben burd
Reply to  JimT
10 June 2021 7:32 am

Just confirms my stereotype of the typical commenter on this Board!

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  JimT
11 June 2021 1:55 am

I got downvoted for explaining how the County system of government worked for city people who didn’t understand. Still wondering if the downvotes were for the type of governance or because my name was attached.

An old friend told me my problem is that I’m an “uppity woman”. I say the world needs a whole lot more uppity women to put these arrogant, self-entitled boys in their place. Their wives traded their independence for security and that’s up to them, but it’s no way to have any pride and dignity.

Last edited 1 year ago by Deborah OConnor