Editor: The Plug Street memorial has been unveiled, the wording on its plaque revealed. In English, six lines appear, five dealing with Plug Street. Only one line deals with Islanders who served in the First World War — it is at the very bottom, as if a footnote.
First and foremost, this is a memorial to Malpeque’s Plug Street. Commemoration of Islanders who served in the War became a convenient hook for tapping federal funding.
DND deemed that there was insufficient evidence to indicate that Malpeque’s Plug Street received its name from a military battlefield; right then the Plug Street memorial chimera should have been abandoned. However, the P.E.I. government adopted and pursued it on the basis of a contrived municipal declaration and a retired colonel’s loudly proclaimed conviction that “only a returning soldier could have named Plug Street.” That is not evidence, let alone compelling evidence.
The plaque asserts that from its location one can view a microcosm of the Ploegsteert region in Belgium — a road (Plug Street) in front; to the north, church spires (plural), as in the town of Ploegsteert; and Ploegsteert Wood (main battle area) to the west.
However, maps of the Ploegsteert region, easily found on the internet, clearly show that Ploegsteert Wood is to the northeast of the town, not the west. Also, for a century the town has had one church with one spire. I could go on. The colonel’s microcosm is quite a stretch. Once again, we see presumption and slipshod research underlying the memorialization of Plug Street in Malpeque. Parks Canada is in the commemoration business.
If it had been their call, rather than that of Veterans Affairs and a gullible provincial finance minister, Plug Street memorialization would have gone nowhere. If this memorial, costing $20,000 of federal taxpayers’ money and an unknown amount from the province, had been pitched solely as the memorialization of Plug Street, it would have been widely seen as a government boondoggle and misuse of the public purse.
So how are matters improved by dedicating this quagmire to Islanders who served in the First World War?