Friday, May 06, 2011

Champlain Cross Still Supported as Site for Toanche.

The following article appeared in one of Midlands local newspapers. It is clear that some will not give up on the notion that Champlain landed in the North West basin of Penetang Bay.
Do we as an archaeological community have any responsibility to educate the community in an effort to encourage historical integrity by insisting on archaeological evidence in support of claims like those made in this article or do we adopt T F McILwraith position "As a matter of cold hard logic, the identification of an historic site is a matter of little importance." - (Royal Society of Canada, May 1947)

5 May 2011 The Free Press (Midland) 2015 - will it be a missed opportunity?
As a committee of concerned and interested citizens who attempted to develop and enhance the Champlain Cross and its site on Penetanguishene Bay for several years now, we wish to recognize the efforts of the pastor of Ste. Anne’s Church, whose parish owns the said property, for singlehandedly forging ahead and rebuilding the present, dilapidated cross. We are, nevertheless, very disappointed that Father Asadoorian completely ignored and disregarded the plans that had been prepared for the complete renovation of the site.

Under the sponsorship of La Clé d’la Baie and with the support of the previous pastors of Ste. Anne’s, Monsignor O’Malley, Fathers Chichatti and Pilon, the Champlain Cross Committee had made plans, obtained a significant grant to design a beautiful parkette and large monument symbolic of the true importance of the site of the Huron village of Toanché and the landing of the Récollet and Jesuit missionaries, Father LeCaron, Étienne Brûlé and Champlain himself.

The Champlain Cross Committee was comprised of very respected, devoted parishioners, three of them past members of the church’s financial committee, the town mayor at the time and representatives from various groups such as the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, La Clé d’la Baie, a Tiny Township councillor and residents, all people who honestly cared about preserving our history and heritage and were willing to assist in facilitating its development.

Last year, in order to prevent the pastor’s plan to sell this historical property outright, the committee garnered strong support from our MPP Garfield Dunlop, the Huron leadership in Quebec, a former resident and historian from Queen’s Park, the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum Board, and members of the Picotte family who donated the major part of the property to the church in the 1960s, to allow further develop a Champlain Cross Park. The Township of Tiny did not approve the request for severance of this property.

It was the committee’s objective to develop this property for its historical and religious significance for future generations as envisioned by Fr. Athol Murray, who in 1921, orchestrated the unveiling of the angels, the building of the original Champlain Cross on Georgian Bay, and the 1921 Tercentenary Celebrations of Champlain’s landing three hundred years ago. Monsignor Murray also returned to rededicate his angels in 1975, reiterating his dream of returning to see a bigger and better “Great Cross” on Penetanguishene Bay, similar to the one on Mount Royal in Montréal.

With the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s landing on our shores fast approaching in 2015, what a great opportunity missed to really promote our heritage and celebrate a great national and provincial event together at this site!

Yours truly, The Champlain Cross Committee: Yvon Gagne (chair), John Desrochers (Vicechair), David Dupuis, Richard Strahl, Peter Hominuk, Terry Quealey, Bob Nash, Bruce Borland, and a representative from Tiny Township Council.

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