Monday, May 07, 2007

blame canada

During Stalin's reign, no less than eleven cities were renamed in his honour.

After he karked it in 53 no more towns anywhere were named after him, and the process of reclamation soon began. In 1956 Amsterdam's Vrijheidslaan ended its nine years as Stalinlaan. After only seven years as Stalin, Bulgaria's third city, Varna, reverted to its original name, and the Polish city of Katowice ended a mere three year Stalinogród dalliance at the same time.

Oh to be an Eastern European roadsign manufacturer in those days.

The Soviet cities mostly returned to former names under Khrushchev's rule in the early 60s.

Very few countries held out longer; Albania till 1990, and central Romania's Stalin region and Bucharest's Stalin district survive to this day.

But coming in third behind Romania and Albania, ahead of the USSR and communist Poland and East Germany?

Canada.

It wasn't until 1986 that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario decided to discontinue their tribute to history's most prolific genocidal dictator and rename Stalin Township in honour of paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen.

Taking that cue, in 1987 British Columbia's government renamed Mount Stalin. It's now Mount Peck. Gregory is the only one you can think of, isn't it? It's actually a local guy, Don Peck, referred to variously as a 'trapper' and a 'conservationist' - does he kill wildlife or protect it then? But hell, it's not surprising they're confused, it's in British Columbia, which is neither British, nor in Columbia.

It's interesting to note that the Stalin renaming came two years after a Newfoundland town adopted the moniker of Baytona. They really didn't like being called Gayside. Clearly, being gay is worse than being Stalin.

Not everyone in Newfoundland is so prudish, mind. Just ask the good burghers of Dildo.

2 comments:

Cat Vincent said...

I recall Ken Campbell did a gig in Dildo, Newfoundland a while back... he asked one of the citizens the origin of the name (after a nervous time in the local pub - which appeared to be inhabited by pirates). He was told the name came about, "to keep the real pricks out."

Cat

merrick said...

I wonder if it has anything to do with it looking out over Spread Eagle Bay?