Letter to the editor – creek vs river

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Dear Editor,

Your editorial, broadcasting the blow-by-blow match of the “South Branch” versus “Kemptville Creek,” is bound to generate enough heat to melt the January snows of North Grenville. Well, I have another idea to throw into the ring: it’s high time to give a new name to this beleaguered waterway.

Neither one of its present names is to boast of. South Branch of what? Oh, South Branch of the Rideau River, you have to explain. But no one wants to be compelled to mouth out the full name, so we’ll always shorten it to South Branch. So that name’s going to entice hordes of tourists to North Grenville? A 60-second search on Wikipedia produces a hundred South Branches in North America: South Branch rivers, creeks, mountains, townships, towns, parks. As kids in the car say when dad points out yet another spectacular mountain view: Bo-r-r-r-ing!

“Kemptville Creek” has at least a little pizzazz to it, an alliteration, a name we can remember. But creeks aren’t anything to draw tourists, you say. For a town that already hosts a Dandelion Festival, I’d say we don’t worry too much about imaging. You say the “creek” name keeps us from picturing it as the mighty river it once was. And naming it after the largest town of the region slights the smaller towns and rural folk. We could name it the North-Augusta-Bishop’s-Mills-Limerick-Forest-Oxford-Mills-Kemptville-Creek-former-River. I admit though, that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

What about holding a contest for a new name for this beloved waterway? Grenville Waterway, Mudpuppy Course, Rideau Rill, The Well-Kempt Pike Home, Don’t-Swim-Here River, Lazy Kayak Waters, Coursing Current, The Creek that Meanders Through Beautiful North Grenville. (Credit my children and grandchildren for some of these suggestions.) Maybe Oxford River or Rideau South Branch will get more votes. If we want an historic name, why not research what the Algonquins called this watery thoroughfare? Oh, but the Roebuck Iroquois no doubt also used this transportation route, so we’d better research Iroquoian words too.

Well, as your editorial hinted, you can’t please everyone.
Don Hekman

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