Canada: Town Name Change Response

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

CANADA: TOWN NAME CHANGE RESPONSE

The Celtic League has received a detailed response from the City of Cambridge(Canada) Archivist, to a series of questions raised by the General Secretary(GS) about the decision to change the name of the City of Galt to the City of `Cambridge’. The questions derived from an enquiry made by Alba Branch member Iain Ramsay, who wanted to know why the name of `Galt’ was replaced, given that the City of
Galt was named after the Scot John Galt, who had strong connections with the area in the nineteenth century, whereas `Cambridge’ seemed a meaningless Anglicisation. Cambridge City Council Archivist, Jim Quantrill, said that the

“The controversy around the name of the amalgamated city became so heated that the provincial government stepped in…”

Mr Quantrill full response can be found below.

“Your request related to the naming the adoption of the name “Cambridge” for the amalgamated municipalities of Galt, Preston and Hespeler has been forwarded to me at the City of Cambridge Archives for a response.

“The naming of the new amalgamated municipality proved quite a controversial issue once it became clear that provincial authorities were prepared to act on a proposal that the County of Waterloo and the municipalities within the county be reorganized.

“In 1966, the provincial government had appointed Dr. Stewart Fyfe to conduct the Waterloo Area Local Government Review with a view to revamping the way the county was governed. In 1970, Dr. Fyfe’s report was released and recommended that the Regional Municipality of Waterloo possessing greater powers and responsibilities replace the County of Waterloo. As part of that process, the
City of Galt would amalgamate with the towns of Preston and Hespeler to form a single city. The recommendations were not met with unanimous support with elements in Galt, Preston and Hespeler strongly opposed to the change. The opposition increased dramatically in Preston and Hespeler when it was discovered that the draft version of the legislation that was to create the Region of
Waterloo assigned the name of “Galt” to the merged municipalities. This was an annexation by Galt, they charged, not an amalgamation of equals and they joined battle in what was to become known as the “Name Game”.

“It was decided that the issue of what name was to be adopted by the new city would be placed on the ballot that would choose the first council of the amalgamated city. Not surprisingly, “Galt” remained the name of choice for Galtonians and since Galt had by far the largest population, it was assumed that “Galt” would prevail. Preston and Hespeler, however, were insistent that their historical identities not be swallowed up in a “Greater Galt”. Their choice for the name of the new amalgamated city was “Cambridge” recalling an early name,” Cambridge Mills” that had been used around 1810 to describe the area surrounding the area’s first mills in what later became part of Preston. It has
been suggested in “Ontario Place Names” by David G. Scott that the name was chosen to honour the Duke of Cambridge one of the sons of King George III.

“The controversy around the name of the amalgamated city became so heated that the provincial government stepped in and decreed that none of the municipalities’ original names would appear on the ballot. With “Galt” no longer a possibility, Galt council selected the name “Blair” as its preferred name. At the same time Galt council approached the provincial government with the idea of allowing electors to “write in” their preference on the ballot if they did not want either of the official choices. The government rejected the idea as a “transparent” attempt by Galt’s leaders to ensure the selection of “Galt” as the new city’s name. Now it was up to the people to select the city’s name, either Cambridge or Blair, and its first council. The choice was, as we are all aware, Cambridge.

“I hope that this answers your question. If you would like any additional information please feel free to contact me.”

Jim Quantrell
Archivist
City of Cambridge
50 Dickson St.
P.O. Box 669
Cambridge Ont.
quantrellj@…

This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General SecretaryCeltic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
M: 0044(0)7787318666

rhisiart.talebot@…
gensec@…

09/09/10

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
socio-economic issues.

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