Asbestos, Canada Struggles to Find a Name Better Than 'Asbestos'

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet'"

While according to Shakespeare's eternal question, names shouldn't matter, sometimes they actually kind of do -- especially if the name in question is that of the town of Asbestos in Quebec, Canada, and you're one of its approximately 7,096 residents that literally can not find a suitable substitute. 

Once home to the Jeffrey Mine that in its heyday, which provided half the world's supply of Asbestos, according to the BBC, the town's namesake has since become disgraced as the substance gained infamy for its status as a dangerous carcinogen that has been banned in many countries around the globe. As the world turned on Asbestos, however, members of the Canadian community, like Bart Simpson and his fourth grade classmates at Springfield Elementary School, stayed true to their roots, keeping around the relic of their town's past. 

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

That is until last November, when officials launched a formal campaign to change their town's name after toying with the idea for some time. While in theory coming up with a name that's slightly less uh, grim, than Asbestos would be a seemingly straightforward process, like most things over the past year, things haven't gone exactly to plan. 

Aside from delays from the pandemic, the most notable obstacle in the way of making Asbestos less Asbestos-y is that pretty much everyone hates the potential replacements: Phenix, the French equivalent of a phoenix; Apalone, a turtle species; Trois-Lacs, which translates to three lakes; and Jeffrey, a nod to the town's history and the name of the man who operated the first mine.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Yet no mythical bird, reptile, bodies of water, or Jeffries are a match for the strong opinions of the town's citizens, casing potential delays to the voting process as officials scramble to find a suitable replacement that isn't met with proverbial pitchforks and torches. "We're all here today to tell the population that we're listening, we're not in an ivory tower," Mayor Hugues Grimard told a local radio station. "The changing of a town's name is a major one, we recognize that -- we're writing history." (Maybe the name "Asbestos" is best after all.)

To turn on reply notifications, click here

23 Comments

Load Comments