From offensive to historical: Beckwith road name changed to meaningful Algonquin word

·2 min read

After more than a year of conflict between community members, council and road owners, an offensive road name in the Township of Beckwith has been changed to an Algonquin name that means “woman.”

Ikwe Point Road, while different from two previously suggested names — Monarch Road and Anishinaabekwe (meaning Anishinaabe woman) Point — is still “pretty significant and part of the word we were interested in,” said Maureen Bostock of the Lanark County Neighbours for Truth and Reconciliation.

“Everyone is absolutely ecstatic,” Bostock said in a phone interview Jan. 5. “It’s awesome that they chose an Algonquin word. We congratulate Beckwith council for doing the right thing,” she said.

Beckwith Reeve Richard Kidd explained that “it was a negative thing dividing the community, and through the community’s input and council’s action it became a positive thing that united everyone.”

Bostock was doing research on the history of Indigenous people in the area when she discovered the offensive road name. Together with other community members, she led the fight to change it in the spring of 2019.

The matter was complicated by the fact it is a private road owned by two individuals and not by the township, nor the road association.

The reeve added the road owner, Thomas Gardiner, wanted the name of the road revised to an Indigenous word. “That was what was important to him, that it didn’t become just another street name,” Kidd said.

The word "Ikwe" honours the historical significance of the landmark and the role the Indigenous people played in the area’s history, he noted.

Bostock is glad all parties are pleased with the results and that she is able to “close this chapter.”

“Ultimately there’s a role here for provincial government to amend the Transportation Act to ensure that there are no more offensive road names in the province. It would certainly save our communities a lot of struggle,” Bostock said.

The township’s historical committee also plans to install a plaque at the road entry explaining the name change. The offensive road sign was taken down two days after council approved the name change during a Dec. 2020 council meeting, according to the reeve.

Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News