An ingenious scheme to manage tourism has been hatched by Richard Hertz for presentation to Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson and council. Likely to reduce the number of visitors to the county, a petition to change the name of the Town of Picton has been launched and is gaining a small following. This should make our community much more difficult to find by confusing tourists who will no longer be able locate it on a map.
The key reason given for the proposed name change centres on the assertion that Sir Thomas Picton, for whom our town was named was “a slave murdering warlord”. At least two supporters of the petition state that they are also uncomfortable with the fact that Picton shares its name with the convicted serial killer, Robert Pickton.
In bringing forth this petition its supporters fall short in their attempt to sanitize county history. In their eagerness to rename the town they have failed to recognize the necessity of rechristening the county as well. Research shows that Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathhearn for whom our county was named was “a severe disciplinarian”. Appointed in 1802 by the Governor General of the War Office to restore order among drunken troops in Gibraltar, his harsh tactics led to a Christmas Eve mutiny among the soldiers that year. Recalled to Great Britain by his brother, Frederick, Duke of York, then Commander in Chief of Forces, after learning of the mutiny. Prince Edward refused to leave Gibraltar until his successor arrived. Upon his return in 1803, he was refused permission to re-enter Gibraltar. Although allowed to retain its governorship until his death, he was forbidden to return there. However, he found other ways to pass the time.
Prince Edward had three known mistresses in his lifetime, among them Julie St. Laurent, a married woman with whom he openly lived for 28 years. She was unceremoniously jilted when he married to provide an heir (Queen Victoria) to the throne.
The name, Picton, was proposed for our town by Rev. William Macaulay an Anglican clergyman. That a man of God would admire the murdering scoundrel Sir Thomas Picton is an unforgivable blot on his reputation. Macaulay Mountain, Macaulay Heritage Park and Macaulay Village must be renamed along with our town. Such misguided admiration cannot be tolerated.
Then there are the rather embarrassing circumstances related to the naming of Sophiasburgh and Ameliasburgh Townships (now Wards), christened for Princesses Sophia and Amelia, daughters of King George lll. Unlike fairy tale princesses, it seems this pair chose not to wait for Prince Charming. Rumors that Sophia bore an illegitimate child fathered by King George’s equerry, Thomas Garth, persisted through the years, forever clouding her reputation. There was also a nasty story that her son was born as the result of an incestuous relationship with her brother.
Sophia’s sister, Amelia, an equally vivacious girl, was involved in a long love affair with equerry Charles Fitzroy, a man 21 years her senior. Amelia was hopelessly infatuated with this man and made her feelings apparent to all. Fitzroy’s face was scarred by a large magenta birthmark and he was referred to by one of her sisters as “the purple light of love.”
If the town and county, along with two of its wards are renamed and Rev. Macaulay’s name erased from our history, proper sanitation measures will have been observed. Perhaps Picton could be named for a sports celebrity or a movie star, for we idolize them and forgive their indiscretions. Since many princes of the day have small scandals attached to their names we should avoid renaming our county for royalty. Perhaps we could call it Cancel Culture County. As for Sophiasburgh and Ameliasburgh we might consider holding a contest to find two women of spotless reputation whose names we could speak with pride. Betty Crocker and Barbie immediately come to mind.
With the town and county renamed, along with two Wards and Macaulay Heritage Park tourists may never find us again. Whitewashed, sanitized, and re-invented we will move forward in a blissful state of anonymity, loathe to offend.
The Hertz petition calls us “a community of leaders and trendsetters” but should it succeed, we are in fact a community of sheep.