When the Fort Frances mill was built, Hollands Street was erased from the map of Fort Frances.
Hollands Street had been named for C.J. Hollands, who was a councillor of the former municipality of McIrvine, the first magistrate, the first Master of Granite Masonic Lodge, and served on several local boards and commissions in the early days of Fort Frances.
At the time that Hollands Street was lost, no protest was put up because the paper mill was seen as the future of Fort Frances and its economic prosperity, and as a critical piece of the community’s emerging identity as a forestry centre.
Today the mill is coming down, and we must shape a new identity. Coincidentally, we are also faced with a decision to part ways with another old namesake: Colonization Road. In doing so, we can acknowledge that colonization – on which many fortunes have been built – has not been a positive force for everyone in our community.
Our path forward from 2020, and the uncertainty ahead, requires community-building and unity, and an acknowledgement that those who loved this land first will play a role in its future. That future is going to look different. We should embark on it together, with respect and care for our neighbours.
This resolution to part ways with colonization is timely, and approached properly, can capture a new, transformative moment for our community.