June 17, 2014
At the end of each year, it is always interesting for each of us to reflect on what we did during that last year. I like to thing about what I have achieved–particularly when it comes to my passions as a psychic reader, a writer, a traveler and as a mother.
In newspaper and other media offices, journalists like to scan what events have unfolded over the year of particular significance. In some cases, due to the ongoing importance of a event or to the small population of a community perhaps, one community event overshadows all else. This was the case in the following article I wrote about 1982 in Lafleche, Saskatchewan:
Gravelbourg Gazette: Lafleche-Kincaid Edition
January 5, 1983
1982 in review: Street names questioned
by Tanya Lester
Who would have thought that council’s decision to get street name signs in Lafleche and at the same time examine the possibility of changing the town’s street names would have met with so much public opinion?
But whether to change or not to change the street names has been an ongoing debate in Lafleche throughout most of last year.
In March, part of a news report on a Lafleche town council meeting read: “The name of several streets would change but the name of streets dedicated to pioneers would remain. Streets will be numbered and will start from Main Street going out.” This referred to a proposal made by the council.
The report met with an open letter, which was published in the paper, to the Lafleche town council from Isobel Spence. “I wonder whether you have fully considered all the implications of your decision to change our unique and historic street names to numbers ‘like the other towns in the area’,” the letter read in part.
“From a practical standpoint, until street signs are erected, street names are immaterial, as directions will continue to be given as they are now. After the signs are up, there will be no greater difficulty in locating ‘Bourassa’, ‘Nicholson’, or ‘Brunelle’, than in located ‘Sixth East’ or ‘Third West’. After all, does anyone have a problem with Albert, Victoria, or Pasqua in Regina, or ‘University, Spadina or Idlewyld in Saskatoon? But who knows where Main Street is in either city?…yet each has one!”
Mrs. Spence ended her letter by suggesting that if the council could not leave the street names as they are, then an informal survey of public opinion should be conducted on the issue.
It appears the town council noted this suggestion because in April it was reported that a referendum on the street names issue would be held in conjunction with the town and school board elections in October.
In May, a Gazette man-on-the-street survey indicated that of the 15 people asked to comment on proposals to change the street names only one believed the names should be changed.
“Out of the residents asked, many people felt that the names should remain as they are because of historical value and because some believe the money spent could be used elsewhere,” the story reported.
“Many people believe that the street names are a unique part of Lafleche. Lafleche has had those street names for over 50 years so some say why change something that is established.”
At the meeting prior to the election date, the council worked out details for the street names poll or referendum. “In a following telephone interview, Walter Baran, town clerk, told the Gazette that Lafleche residents could indicate their preferences of changing Montcalm Street to Main Street and changing street names such as Cartier, Laurier, and Montreal to numbers while keeping street names inspired by lcoal pioneers, or changing all the street names to numbers, or keeping all of the streets as they now are named.”
“Mr. Baran said the idea to change the street names to numbers came about to make it easier for people entering the town to find any particular street.” The town was not bound to act in accordance with the street name referendum as it was an unofficial poll.
Proof of the importance Lafleche residents attached to the street names issue was apparent on election day. Although there was no voting for the town council, whose members had all been declared to office by acclamation, people still came out to vote on the poll. In fact, many of them voting for the Mathieu Separate School Board was also taking place on that day but found out when they arrived at the town office to vote on street names.
The results could not serve as a clear-cut direction to council. While the option to changing Montcalm St. to Main St. and the rest of the streets to numbers while keeping those named after local pioneers got 31 votes, making complete name changes received 52 votes while 53 residents voted to keep the street names as they are already named. ye results, the council intends to buy street signs. What will be on those street signs– either numbers or the same street names–will be examined by the council at their February 10 meeting after the referendum results are completed.
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name on amazon.com to read the first few pages or to purchase it.