Town of Lunenburg residents to choose new name for Cornwallis Street

Town residents have until Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. AT to fill out a survey to choose a new name for Cornwallis Street in Lunenburg. (Emma Davie/CBC - image credit)
Town residents have until Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. AT to fill out a survey to choose a new name for Cornwallis Street in Lunenburg. (Emma Davie/CBC - image credit)

Residents in Lunenburg, N.S., will get the chance to choose a new name for Cornwallis Street, after the town approved recommendations from its anti-racism special committee.

The town said in a news release on Tuesday that it would rename the street as well as two local parks "in an effort to honour African Nova Scotian and Mi'kmaw figures, place names and words from Lunenburg's history."

The release described Edward Cornwallis as a "controversial former governor of Nova Scotia" who "issued a 'scalping proclamation' bounty in 1749 to anyone who killed Mi'kmaw men, women, and children."

It also noted that other municipalities in the province such as Bridgewater, Kentville, Halifax and Sydney had also changed the name of local streets bearing Cornwallis' name over the past several years, as part of a "fresh look at our history."

No consensus on committee

Residents will have a chance to choose a new name for the street by filling out a survey.

"I think that a lot of people are excited to have a say, and that we're reaching out more broadly to capture people's suggestions and find out what people would like to see happen," said Coun. Melissa Duggan, who chairs Lunenberg's anti-racism special committee.

Duggan said the renaming process of Cornwallis Street is a little bit more complicated "just in terms of wanting to find the perfect name, something that makes sense for the area."

"There wasn't a consensus that we came to as a committee and therefore we decided to move forward with the process of doing the survey and having people have a say," Duggan said.

Many of the suggested names honour Mi'kmaw culture. The survey, which is available online and at public counters at the town hall, listed the following names to choose from:

  • E'se'katik (AY-SAY-kateek) Street: Original Mi'kmaw place name for Lunenburg, meaning place of clams.

  • Gta'n (uk-dawn) Street: Mi'kmaw word for ocean.

  • Kluscap (gloos-cap) Street: Named for a spiritual figure for Indigenous peoples located in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Atlantic Canada.

  • Matlot (maduh-lot) Street: Mi'kmaw word for sailor.

  • Merligueche Street: Mik'maw word for whitecaps which topped the waves. The survey noted it was also the former Acadian place name for Lunenburg.

  • Nitap (knee-dub) Street: Mi'kmaw word for friend.

  • Queen Street: Follows the naming convention of the nearby streets (Duke, King, Prince).

  • Reconciliation Street: Named for the National Day of Truth & Reconciliation with Indigenous nations.

  • Samqwan (sam-hwan) Street: The Mi'kmaw word for water. The survey noted this would represent the street's connection to the back and front harbours, and the community's overall ties to water.

There is also an option to write in a name suggestion. Residents have until Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. AT to weigh in. Once a name is chosen, it will go back to council and a final decision will be made, Duggan said.

Looking for community feedback

Council also approved renaming two parks in the area.

Blockhouse Hill Park has been changed to Sylvia Park to honour an enslaved Black woman who helped defend Lunenburg when it was raided by Americans in 1782, but who was never recognized for it.

The name of 250th Anniversary Park has been changed to Labrador Park "in honour of Old Labrador (a.k.a Paul Labrador), the name Mi'kmaw/Acadian family in the area when what we now call Lunenburg was founded in 1753. This park contains a Mi'kmaw medicine garden and is close to the location of the original Labrador farm," the news release said.

"I think throughout this process we have been really mindful to include a broad selection of different names to honour local Mi'kmaw history," Duggan said.

"And with the naming of Sylvia Park as well honouring local African Nova Scotian history, I think that we're pretty pleased with the work that's being done and looking forward to seeing the community's feedback."