Would You Visit A Town Called Formaldehyde?

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

It’s hard to image naming a town Pesticide or Chlorine Gas. Toxic substances don't inspire images of family vacations.

A Quebec town called Asbestos - a word that conjures images of demolition crews in hazmat suits while homeowners run for cover - no longer wants to live under the stigma of cancer-causing toxicity. 

Disgruntled Asbestonians have spoken. In a town referendum, citizens voted to officially change the town's name to "Val-des-Sources" – French for Valley of the Springs, a much more inviting title. 

The town's original name dates back to the late 1800s, when a large deposit of asbestos was discovered there and sparked a steady growth of the city. 

The name Val-des-Sources won out over other ideas like Phénix, Trois-Lacs, L'Azur-des-Cantons, and Larochelle, and refers to the town's location close to the sources of three lakes. With 51.5% of the vote, it was a clear winner.

The name change happened amid much controversy and divisiveness in the community. Citizens were quick to discard ideas such as "Apalone" suggested by Greenpeace Canada as a way to honour an indigenous species of turtle ("I wouldn't be proud to say that I live in a soft turtle city," one resident quipped) and "Jeffrey", as in W. H. Jeffrey, the tycoon who funded one of the town's mines.

For some residents, the name change is a bittersweet occasion. 

"I'm against the name change. I was born in Asbestos and I want to die in Asbestos," remarked local Ginette Frichette.

Well, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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