By Derek Howard
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
What better way to celebrate Penetanguishene than with its own provincially-legislated day, is the push by locals to the town.
A proposed `Penetanguishene Day’, to honour the heritage and historic legacy of Penetanguishene, according to its author Alexander Roman, had been introduced through a letter to council last September. With the transition to a new term of council following the 2022 municipal elections, the museum and heritage committee had an opportunity to revisit the proposal in early March.
In the letter, Roman stated he had worked at the Ontario Legislature for over 30 years and helped develop many bills to promote Ontario’s history and culture. In joint recognition with Penetanguishene resident David Dupuis, the pair identified aspects of the town that they felt were the embodiment of Ontario, through its bilingual status, it’s history as the home of the Huron-Wendat, arrival of the French and British, and arrival of the Metis.
“In our view, that living heritage and enduring legacy deserves to be enshrined in Ontario law and actively promoted throughout our province,” wrote Roman. “It ought to be an integral part of Ontario’s high school curriculum as well. A provincially designated `Penetanguishene Day’ involving an annual acknowledgement of that heritage and legacy at Queen’s Park will likewise be part of the discussion.”
The matter returned to the Penetanguishene committee of the whole through minutes from the March meeting, where it was discussed by members. Coun. Bonita Desroches pulled the item to ask what steps would be taken, with Mayor Doug Rawson and members of staff noting that staff would look into its feasibility.
“I was glad to hear and read what I saw,” said Desroches, “but I know that since we’ve started, we’ve talked about incorporating more events with the town.
“If this is the event that we want, to put our eggs in that basket _ that’s something that will certainly be decided by council, but my main concern is that if we’re going to start collecting some May opportunities or May events, then we need to be very targeted and very selective. Because we can’t have two or three types of (events during summer).”
Desroches added that further discussion would be needed to explore the proposed summer events. Offered within the letter were August 1 as the day Samuel de Champlain landed near Atouacha or Toanche, with other dates including August 15 (St. Mary’s Day), September 26 (arrival of Jesuits), July 26 (St. Anne’s Day), and any day in June to mark Etienne Brule’s death.
CAO Jeff Lees told committee members that staff would look into the matter further as discussion on other town events in the recreation and community services section would be reported back to council in the July to September quarter of this year. Lees added he felt a sense of appetite from the committee to explore the proposal, as well as from Roman and Dupuis.
The minutes of the museum and heritage committee regarding the `Penetanguishene Day’ proposal can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.
Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.
Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.
Derek Howard/ Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/MIDLANDTODAY.CA/ LJI is a federally funded program.