We've offered eight Canadians an opportunity to win a trip to Kingston aboard VIA Rail. We've asked Kingston area organizations and merchants to add to a prize package which now includes hotel stays, dining, attractions and souvenirs. We're also asking the people of Kingston to suggest what our winners might do when they come to claim their prizes in this historic and beautiful city, home of our first Prime Minister.
...What's up with all that?
At the centre of this contest is a project that's worth everyone's while! We're asking Canadians, when simply walking around their towns and cities, to snap pics of places and things named in honour of Sir John A. Macdonald. Thus we are conducting a survey of sorts; a snapshot record of how we've paid tribute to our first Prime Minister on the eve of his Bicentennial Birthday. Why not have a photo album of all the schools, roads, buildings, parks...? Why not build a composite portrait of Canada from this perspective?!
We also pose the question: what more could we do? Maybe there's nothing in your town named in honour of Canada's first statesman, the foremost of our founding fathers who stitched together the provinces and colonies across the northern portion of this continent to create a unified nation - a unique nation, distinct in character from our great neighbour to the south. Is there a generically named building or poorly named plot of land that we might rechristen? And, to what end? At the very least, perhaps this project sparks a conversation in communities across Canada: could we, should we, further honour this controversial man?
Taking a cue from the controversy around the movement to rename Toronto's Union Station for #sirJAM, we also ask: what should NEVER be named for Sir John A.? What is named for Sir John A. that shouldn't be.... and why? Perhaps in these "should never be's" lies the opportunity to further the conversation, a conversation we should all have about our history. What have we done right, what not so right, and what are we proud of?...And of what, as a nation, are we collectively ashamed?
Whether you participate gravely or lightheartedly, this is more than just a contest. Tackled seriously or with tongue in cheek, but in all likelihood with full-blown Canadian reserve, it's another opportunity as we approach Sir John A.'s 200th to get together as Canadians to review the man, his legacy, the mark he left - and the marks folks have left all over this land to pay him tribute. Or simply a nice reason to take a walk, now the weather's nice, and snap a few pics of this great country we call home!
Take this chance to share your Canada and perhaps come see our piece of her in historic Kingston, Ontario!