Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Susanna Moodie Park; letter to Cobourg Town Council

August 25, 2008
Cobourg Town Council;

Rotary Waterfront Park. A satirist would rename it Rotary Affront Park, because that is the appropoetic name.

The people of Cobourg deserve a name that is distinctive, unique, something that differentiates Cobourg from anywhere else on the map of Canada. Rotary Waterfront Park is the opposite. It is a dreary dollar-a-dozen name, indicating that this Council dances to the tune of sponsors instead of independently serving ALL citizens.

Check it out:
There is a Midland Rotary Waterfront Trail
There is a Cobourg Rotary Waterfront Park
There is a Yellowknife Rotary Waterfront Park.
There is a Prince Rupert Rotary Waterfront Park
There is a Halton County Rotary Waterfront Pond
There is a Penetanguishene Rotary Waterfront Park

Rotary Waterfront,
Rotary Waterfront,
Rotary Waterfront,
repeat after me,
Rotary Wastefront.

What a weary dreary uninspiring name for a park.
It reflects one thing that Cobourg Council is in the pocket of the local Rotary Club.

I would recommend Susanna Moodie Park. Who? I can't imagine a town councilor who hadn't read Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush. It describes the story of Moodie, an anti-slavery English immigrant who arrived in Cobourg in the early 1800's and built a home on the outskirts of Cobourg. Publishers in New York City and London published her children's books, poetry books, story books. This is a woman of accomplishment, who left a relatively gentile life in England, to immigrate to Canada to start a life in the toughest, rawest manner. She is an immigrant every Canadian could point to with pride.

What a pity that the soft butts on this council, who likely hear bigoted complaints of recent immigrants swarming Cobourg parks, moaning the blues that these immigrants have it easy, don't work to integrate, etc, etc. With Susanna Moodie, this town council has the perfect example of an exemplary immigrant, yet it is my guess, that councilors are abysmally ignorant of this fine woman. The ignorance of councilors is understandable, because nothing was taught about her in any of the Cobourg schools when I attended. What a pathetic pity!

One of Canada,s most accomplished authors, Margaret Atwood, established her lit-cred with a collection of poetry, entitled The Journals of Susanna Moodie.

There is a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in New Brunswick, a statue of Robbie Burns in Allan Gardens and a statue of a Ukrainian poet in High Park in Toronto, a statue of Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko in Oakville, a statue of Shakespeare in Stratford, a statue of G.B.Shaw in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and a statue of Leo Tolstoy in B.C. erected by Doukhobors. Only this year a Canadian poet was honoured with a statue in Queen's Park -- Al Purdy. That is a first.

Canada has been much enriched by multiculturalism. Pity that Canadians care so little about their own culture, that they overwhelmingly prefer the celebration of foreign authors, instead of their own. What is the cause of this continuing contempt for Canadian culture that Cobourg cannot bring itself to honour such an accomplished woman as Moodie. Is there so much contempt for our own local culture that we cannot bring ourselves to even name a patch of land in her honour?

Although I can make a much more eloquent and detailed case for naming the park after Susanna Moodie, the naming should be left to the people of Cobourg. If this council does not have the democratic spine to sponsor a name-the-park tendering, then perhaps the Rotary Club might be willing to cease and desist with their self-aggrandizing branding of the public domain like a fast-food outlet and instead, encourage the imaginations of Cobourg by sponsoring a name-the-park poll.

Think it over.

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