November 04, 2014

Bridging Hockey And History: A Controversial Decision In Quebec

A planned new bridge linking Montreal to the South Shore is creating controversy.

These mega-projects often do, because they can adversely affect traffic flows and neighborhoods, not to mention the inevitable cost overruns.

But this new Montreal bridge is controversial because of the possibility it will be named after hockey hero Maurice "Rocket" Richard. In a province where Richard is heralded as Quebec's patron saint, it almost seems odd that people oppose the possible honour. But it does, and rightfully so.

The planned bridge will replace the existing Champlain bridge. You know, explorer Samuel de Champlain who sailed to the New World from France in 1603. He mapped the St. Lawrence River before establishing a settlement, Quebec City, in 1608. He is considered the founder of Quebec.

The bridge renaming, which has yet to be approved, is seen as a possible political move by a government desperate for votes. Honouring the Rocket is always popular. Champlain is so 1600s and there are no YouTube clips of his highlights.

Now no one disputes the cultural importance of Maurice Richard in Quebec. He transcended hockey and is the most celebrated Quebecker ever. But to erase Champlain's name in this fashion is wrong. Quebecers have a lot of heroes to honour and Champlain should never be forgotten.

1 comment:

justsomeguy said...

Champlain was French. Is there anything in France named after him? Seems that might be the best place to honour him. A Pont Maurice Richard Bridge would at the least honour someone from around here.

It'd have to be cheap, strong and reliable for an extended period of time before giving way to the Pont Jean Beliveau Bridge.

Be nice if it were to be built by engineers rather than nephews.