Due to technical difficulties with the Jerome Irwin article, I have posted this letter to the North Shore News editor from last week because it is a similar topic: The issue of changing the names by local governments of beloved neighbourhoods and facilities that needs either more public consultation or no change at all.
Who was William Griffin?
Before renaming the rec centre, let’s learn why his name is on it
Why is it we find other people’s history fascinating, yet seem so dismissive of our own? North Vancouver District Council is contemplating changing the name of the William Griffin Recreation Centre, apparently because no one around the council table can recall very much about the man. I would think it is safe to assume that his contributions to the community must have been considerable for the council of the 1970s to think it proper to name a major public facility after him. So why have we forgotten, and why do we not even think it worthwhile to rediscover a leading citizen of the past? These stories are important because they tell us about the people who helped get us to where we are today. They are part of the truth of our collective story. How hard would it be to hire a summer intern or co-op history student, to research all the people our public spaces are named for? The findings could be posted at the entrances of parks, swimming pools and schools, so that we could all connect the name with the person, and learn something about our community’s history. In this way we could add a richness to where we live, the kind of thing we admire in other cities where history is kept very much alive.