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Honouring the Tragically Hip

Tragically Hip Street HonourKingston is a city unlike any other, and yet similar to other urban centres our streets remind us of our rich and humble history. I’m not referring to the trademark limestone structures, monumental landmarks, gorgeous parks or longstanding commercial fixtures, rather the names of our well travelled streets, boulevards and avenues also serve as a quiet and often overlooked reminder of our storied past.  It’s very common in most cities to have streets named after royalty: Princess, King, Charles, William; places: Montreal, York, Toronto, Ontario; local historic figures: Bagot, Sir John A. MacDonald, John Counter, Taylor Kidd, and the list goes on.  Further, it’s becoming increasingly fashionable to pay respect to new heroes and heroines by renaming a strip of pavement or green space in their honour.  Toronto has Blue Jays Way, Burbank has Bob Hope Drive, Scarborough has Mike Myers Drive.  In advance of a public consultation to determine whether or not the Limestone City should similarly recognize the Tragically Hip, this week’s poll question asks:

Should the City of Kingston honour the Tragically Hip?

  • Yes, rename a street, park or something. (44%, 68 Votes)
  • Yes, name a future street, park or something. (27%, 41 Votes)
  • No. Others are more deserving. (18%, 27 Votes)
  • No. They are not deserving. (9%, 14 Votes)
  • Undecided. (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 154

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Sure it might seem reasonable for Kingston to honour one of the city’s best known musical acts with a street renaming, park dedication or a related honour, but where will we draw the line? The Hip are arguably one of many names in the musical community (Cockburn, Adams, Usher) who are deserving of such an honour, but one could easily argue that there are just as many deserving individuals in sports (Gilmour, Muller, Cherry) and politics (Milliken, Gerretsen, Segal) who should be honoured by the city.  It’s a slippery slope, that could open the door to less deserving and respected contemporary icons.  Furthermore, as we continue to evaluate and update the worth of a given person or group’s contributions and historical standing, what is acceptable today may not be as appealing in the future.

Many cities have struggled to reach an amenable solution with respect to honouring the not so distant past and present. Depending on what is targeted, celebrity-inspired names run the risk of overriding historical bonds, and they can come with a hefty price tag. Sure it’s a great way to create areas of interest, but tourists flock to our downtown, which seems to be doing just fine with the likes of Brock, Queen, Market and so on. Instead of renaming a well established street or park, perhaps we should consider looking towards naming something in a new subdivision, as that might be less disruptive. Then again, it might also run the risk of getting buried in the burbs.

Are you in favour of renaming or naming something to commemorate the Hip? If so, what street, park or monument would you propose? If not, what are your reasons?  Are there any other individuals or groups who should be considered a higher priority?  Your New Year’s resolution should be to drop off your comments below.

Special thanks to nino63004 for the original image, remixed to honour the Tragically Hip.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

10 thoughts on “Honouring the Tragically Hip

  • January 2, 2012 at 10:49 am
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    In discussing this week's poll with Harvey, I felt fairly indifferent to the idea. Now that I sit here and really think about it, I'm not sure how it would go over. Just the use of the title would be weird "Let's go to Tragically Hip Park", "I live at 459 Tragically Hip Lane". It's just a strange name for a place and feels forced – especially amongst all the historical names we've given our other streets. It might sit better if we shorten it to just "Hip Lane" or "Hip Park". I'm not really a big fan of the Hip but that doesn't bother me so much. They've had great (controversy-free) success and they do belong to Kingston so if the City chooses to honour them so be it. Now, if naming something after Don Cherry were up for debate…that'd be a whole different story.

      • January 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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        I kind of like the idea of naming a new street after one of their songs rather than plopping their name into the mix. That said, it might be a bit of an obscure reference for those who aren't as familiar with their work/songs. Admittedly I had to look up whether or not "Road Apples" was one of their tunes (it is for those who are wondering). Perhaps we could consider a title/song that is more widely recognizable: Bobcaygeon, New Orleans is Sinking, Ahead by a Century, Nautical Disaster, Blow at High Dough….

  • January 3, 2012 at 11:58 am
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    Let's honour the Arrogant Worms instead, and rename it Carrot Juice is Murder Lane

  • January 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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    It looks as though this proposal has enough support at the municipal level. Today's press release from the City of Kingston titled "Input Sought Regarding Proposed "Tragically Hip Way" reads as follows: "The City is seeking public input on a proposal to rename the foot of Barrack Street, or another public asset in the North Block, to recognize the Tragically Hip in a civic manner appreciative of their place in our community. "

    As someone who lives in the area, I'm not a fan of renaming one of the already established streets in the area after these guys. Obviously tipping my hand to the fact that I'm not the world's biggest Hip fan.

  • January 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm
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    I think the Tragically Hip are great, my kids LOVE the Arrogant Worms. There are lots of great musical acts connected to Kingston, why should the Hip get precedence over honouring others? I happen to know they have been very philanthropic in Kingston, but, so are lots of other people / groups. We have a park / street naming policy already, does this fit within the existing policy?

  • January 9, 2012 at 10:20 am
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    The idea of renaming a street is great in my opinion, many cities have done this, and Barrack Street, though established and historical in meaning, is by no means honoring any individual in particular. It, therefore, should not be too offensive should the name change. I would not recommend ever changing the name of a street that is already honoring another individual or event. To be sure, the name is very much simply location based. Of course, another park or street could be renamed, but the Mayor's intention was to make an impression with the name change due to the K-Rock Centre and its value as an entertainment venue. A park does not accomplish the same task.

  • January 15, 2012 at 10:01 am
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    . I answered my own question, we have a Street Naming By-Law, this initiative does not fit a number of the requirements. Follow the by-law or rewrite it to fit these kinds of initiatives.

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