The MTO needs a history lesson

Cartoon by Amy Bridges
Cartoon by Amy Bridges

The world is always changing. New buildings, roads, bridges and overpasses are always under construction. Soon the only way future generations will know what was there beforehand will be textbooks, historical sites and protected pieces of art.


For those future generations we need to make sure we get it right. Not just play eeny-meeny-miny-moe with where our historical art goes.


Right now the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) is trying to help preserve the history of the communities the new 407 goes through.


But just like Coun. Nancy Diamond suggested at the Oshawa City Council meeting on March 9, “I don’t know if the 407 knows where they’re going.”


Two overpasses are being built and a plaque is being placed where the Highway 407 goes through Oshawa. They will feature important themes connected to the community.


The only problem? They are wrong.


What would have happened if the plaque for the CN Tower was placed near the Science Centre or a mural painted of Walt Disney on a sports arena? It wouldn’t work and it would confuse future generations.


That is what is happening with the overpasses and plaque in Oshawa. The overpasses feature the wrong motifs in the wrong places and the plaque is just wrong altogether.


Oshawa has a rich history and the best way to celebrate that is to properly show it.


The Harmony Road overpass is within close proximity of archaeological digs. According to the Appendix B: Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment, Kedron Study Area made in 2009 by Archaeological Services Inc., pottery pieces were found indicating the site was an early First Nation settlement.


Currently, the MTO has the Harmony Road overpass has an equestrian theme. So beautiful galloping horses with their manes flowing in the wind will be at the First Nations archaeological discovery, naturally.


But let’s not stop there. The Simcoe Street North overpass is right by Windfields Farm.


Windfields is an honoured legacy in Oshawa. The famous thoroughbred horse farm originally opened in 1927. Edward Plunkett (E.P.) Taylor took care of the farm and was inducted in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1976.


So, naturally, since the equestrian design is going to be at the First Nations archaeological site, the idea of placing their Aboriginal history design at the horse farm makes sense, right?


Future generations will be able to marvel on the irony, or they will just be confused and eventually spend more taxpayers’ money to have it rectified and placed in the proper spots.


The bridges aren’t the only things the MTO has gotten wrong with the Highway 407 commemoration art.


There will also be a plaque placed on the Ritson Road underpass. This plaque talks about the Old County Ontario and its history within Pickering and Whitby.


Old County Ontario evolved into Durham Region today. According to County of Ontario Short Notes as to the Early Settlement and Progress of the County and Brief Preferences to the Pioneers and Some Ontario County Men Who Have taken a Prominent Part in Provincial and Dominion Affairs by J.E. Farewell, in 1907 the very first meeting for the officers and other regulators for the towns of Whitby and Pickering was held in 1801. So it only makes sense to put this plaque in Oshawa?


No wonder the younger generations don’t know much about their history. If we are going to preserve and take pride in our history, shouldn’t we making sure we are celebrating the right history in the right place?