Name choices for the new library
On the City of Gatineau website, citizens are asked - in French only – to choose among four names for the new library. The information on the selection of the names states that …the Comité de toponymie analyzed all names according to Gatineau’s general analysis criteria and then selected the most “appropriate” (my emphasis) suggestions. The Comité de toponymie has reserved the right to improve the list of names to be voted on.
One of the names submitted by Councillor Mike Duggan, at my request, was Abigail Wyman Wright. Abigail was the wife of Philemon Wright, the founder of WrightÙs Town, which was the embryonic settlement from which Gatineau has evolved. Historians all agree that it is due to her efforts that education began in GatineauÙ’s early development. Abigail was the first teacher, and then was, later, the person responsible for acquiring both schoolhouses and teachers for the children of the community. In a community with no doctors, she also served as the first healthcare provider for all the settlers.
The Comité de toponymie decided that Abigail Wright’s name would not be put forward for the citizens’ vote.
There are four female, francophone candidates whose names have been put forward by that committee: One was a courageous local union activist, a second was a courageous 13-year-old who demanded her right to be served in French. Each of the four candidates deserves the honour of their place in history; however, it is difficult to understand how the history mentioned of those two candidates relates to the mission of a library as well as does the history of the woman who pioneered education in the first permanent settlement.
I believe that the Comité de toponymies’ methodology is suspect, reflecting rather political choices. They should be obliged to explain how it is that Abigail Wyman Wright did not make the shortlist.
Rick Henderson, Aylmer