Friday, September 29, 2006

Wonscotanach Watcher

Poster seen on Lower Don Trail

No, I don't plan to change the name of this blog but there is at least one person who laments for the earlier names. Underneath the Riverdale Park footbridge on an old concrete abutment, someone has placed this rather bedraggled poster describing how the river lost its original native name the "Woscotonach". At the bottom is a barely legible signature but it points to another blog called the "Missing Plaque Project".

Wonscotonach or maybe Wonscoteonoch was first mentioned in Elizabeth Simcoe's diary. She said that it meant "black burnt land". This is possibly an Anishnawbe word. In 1788, Alexander Aitkin a surveyor created a map of the area and named the river Necheng qua kekonk. Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe followed tradition and placed English names on everything of note. He named the Don River because the valley reminded him of a similar river in Yorkshire, England.

This blog is dedicated to producing historical plaques about forgotten events of Toronto history that the powers that be don't like to remember. Ever heard of the Christie Pits race riot? How about new city hall built on the razed rubble of Toronto's first Chinatown. You can view these posters in this archive.

It has been awhile since these names have been heard but I think the name Don is easy enough for most people so I think we are stuck with this name for awhile.

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