The renowned angels of Penetanguishene embarked on their relocation journey to the town’s border with adjacent Midland on Wednesday. Known for more than their decorative charm, these angels are iconic of the town’s heritage.
Initially erected in 1921, these angels were associated with the commemoration of Champlain’s 300th anniversary of his time in the region, divulges Nicole Jackson from the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives. These symbols magnify our sense of identity and interconnection, as Mayor Doug Rawson articulates. They stand to remind each passer-by that they are home, in a place profoundly steeped in history and culture. They embody the convergence of Francophone and English roots into one harmonious community.
This sentiment was seconded by Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers, who noted the importance of celebrating one’s history. Each angel symbolically stands for Quebec and Ontario, signifying the harmonious unity of two languages in the province during a time when teaching French in the public school system was restricted.
Jackson reflects, noting the audacity of the town, “To proudly display these angels representing the two languages, especially during a time when it was mostly met with unwelcomeness.”
The replica angels have been relocated further down Highway 93 as they were beginning to become obscured in a town that blossomed and flourished around them. By spotlighting them, it may prompt the younger generation to delve into their historical significance, questioning their origin and the rapport that existed between the French and the English, suggests Chambers.
This revampment initiative has been made possible because of the collective efforts by community groups and a substantial $272,000 grant from the federal government’s Arts and Heritage program. However, there remains much to restore beyond just the statues.
In Rawson’s words, “We’re going to introduce a spectacular gateway sign to greet you into the community, refurbish the parkway, enhance the parkland, and undertake an overall cleanup. The finished result will be nothing short of splendid.”
The original angels have always had a secure shelter in the town’s Centennial Museum since the 1990s, safe from the damaging elements. The land acknowledgment to honor the indigenous people who preceded the English and French will also be incorporated in the signage of the replica angels’ new location.