There is some additional pushback on plans to remove a 97 year-old plaque City commemorating Sieur de la Salle’s discovery of the head-of-the-lake. Burlington staff have decided that a nearly century old plaque in LaSalle Park should be removed, in part, because it has offended a member of the public.
The plaque celebrates the 1669 landing of Sieur de La Salle, and refers to him as “The First White Man To Set Foot On These Shores”.
Hamilton councillor Judi Partridge is the latest to weigh in on the issue, reminding everybody that La Salle Park still belongs to Hamilton. She issued a statement that reads “It has been brought to my attention that the Historic La Salle Plaque currently located in La Salle Park is now at risk of being removed and/or relocated. This plaque was donated by the former Wentworth Historical Society” of Flamborough sometime in 1923, and has been on display since that date almost 100 years ago. As ownership of La Salle Park lies with the City of Hamilton, and Burlington’s role is as “caretaker to the park” . I would question whether the city of Burlington would have jurisdiction to remove and/or relocate this piece of history. I believe, to remove the plaque, Burlington would need the approval of Hamilton staff and perhaps Hamilton Council. The plaques recent negative reaction originating from a Burlington residents complaint may ultimately mean the plaque will be removed. However, I feel strongly any decision would need to follow proper protocols which would include the city of Hamilton as the rightful owner of the park and plaque . If it is the will of both cities to have the plaque removed, I would want to ensure the plaque be returned to the “Flamborough Archives” for safe keeping, as it was originally donated by the former Wentworth Historical Society of Flamborough and it is an important part of our collective history..
The City’s Heritage Advisory Committee, which met a few days ago, has also expressed some concern about the proposed removal. Members ultimately voted to ask the City to seek the opinion of its Inclusivity Advisory Committee before acting.
City Planner Danika Guppy told the Heritage Committee that staff reviewed the issue after receiving the complaint. They determined that the plaque should be removed, not only because of the complaint, but because it is situated on an isolated slope and is not very accessible to the public. She told the Committee that she was sharing the information simply as an “FYI” and added that there is another plaque in the park that tells more of La Salle’s story.
”I’m going to challenge that there’s any lack of inclusivity in this language” said Committee member Barry Duffy. “There’s nothing wrong with that language. We probably wouldn’t write it that way today, I’ll acknowledge that, but we’re looking at 1923 and so they did express it differently, but that is not pejorative language in any way. The fact that we would say things differently a hundred years ago is in fact part of our heritage and that’s what this committee is here to preserve.”
Duffy would say later; “You can’t change your past. You shouldn’t. It your history. “