Tracy Kingston originally hoped she could arrange for 200 local school children to sing O Canada at the re-dedication of a monument in Corunna’s St. George’s Square.
It was 200 years ago that Lord William Beresford, on a mission from the British Crown to find a capital for Canada, surveyed a piece of land along the St. Clair River where the St. Clair Township community of Corunna is today and named it one of the candidates.
In the end, about 400 pupils from elementary schools in the area took part in the May 23 ceremony at a monument erected along Hill Street near the spot Beresford set aside for the Parliament building.
Kingston is chairperson of Corunna 200, a community effort to celebrate Corunna’s history and what might have been if the community had actually ended up as the capital of Canada.
Worries that Corunna was too close to the US scuttled its chances at becoming the capital but streets Beresford set out in his survey – and named for his fellow officers serving under Sir John Moore at the battle of La Coruna in Spain in 1809 – remain today.
Kingston said it was while she was serving on the township’s heritage committee that she realized this year was the 200th anniversary of Beresford’s selection of Corunna as one of the candidates for the capital.
That, she said, was “a good excuse for a celebration.”
In preparation for the ceremony, a garden was planted around the monument and two new storyboards with information about the community’s history were installed. The storyboards were unveiled during the ceremony.
The pupils from local elementary schools, as well as the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Day Care, entertained a crowd with songs, including O Canada in Ojibwa, French and English.
Township Mayor Jeff Agar, Lambton County Warden Kevin Marriott, Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey and Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain all said a few words to mark the occasion.
“It was an incredible turnout,” Kingston said. “I’m so pleased with the community support.”
It’s important to remember the community’s past, she said.
“We cannot fathom the perseverance and dedication of people that came before us.”
The monument celebrating the story was installed 36 years ago, but “some people still don’t know it’s here,” Kingston said.
“This is our kick-off event,” she said.
There are plans for a scavenger hunt in the summer and then on Sept. 23 there will be a “family, fun-filled street festival,” she said.
“We’re going to close down Lyndoch Street for a couple of blocks and have entertainment for families and children, food, and all kinds of fun things.”
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