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Misspelled name on sign to be fixed 0

Douglas Gloin

It's been a long fight for Barry's Bay resident Bob Corrigan, but the Township of Madawaska Valley finally has done the legwork needed to fix the name of Skeeds Road to Skead Road.

The road, which runs south off Highway 60 on the fringe of the township border, is an unpopulated gravel track that wends its way down from the highway toward Bark Lake, where James Skead once had a timber-cutting operation more than 150 years ago. It is named after the pioneer lumber baron, businessman and senator, but the name probably has been misspelled since the road was built.

After putting the issue on the back burner several times, council agreed on June 15 to another request from Corrigan to get the ball rolling toward getting the name fixed, but with the proviso that the measure must not cost the township any money.

Now, some three years since Corrigan began seeking the change, the provincial Ministry and Transportation is changing the spelling from "Skeeds" to Skead and the County of Renfrew has agreed to change the road's name on its records.

Corrigan was joined in his quest by Bob Huband of Ottawa, a descendant of James Skead. Skead was a legislator, a senator in the first Canadian Parliament and an investor in early steamship and rail travel. He counted three prime ministers among his friends.

While he's happy that the change will finally happen, Corrigan says it could have been done a long time ago, and he thinks council was a bit parsimonious about the whole affair.

"It still annoys me a little bit that the local council would only agree to the correction if there was no cost to them," he says.

While some people might think a misspelled name on a sign is no big deal, Bob Corrigan believes that when it comes to history, accuracy is vital. He attributes this realization to his taking up genealogy as a hobby.

"Once I became interested in genealogy, it grew to include not only my own ancestors and relatives, but also neighbours and other people in the area," he says. "All of a sudden, I became interested in local geography and local history as well. It turns out that genealogy is a lot more than names and dates.

"Tied in to all that is the drive to obtain correct information, and accurate spelling is part of it, I find it respectful to spell someone's name correctly."

It's not the first time Corrigan has fought to have the historical record corrected.

"I remembered the story that Tom Murray, a local member of Parliament many years ago, was a councillor in Barry's Bay when names were being assigned to streets," he says. "Tom (grandfather of another MP, Sean Conway) was a great baseball fan. He knew that there was a professional baseball player by the name of Stan Coveleski, and since the town had a lot of people with Polish roots, he chose that name. At civic address time, someone thought that Coveleski was supposed to be the local name, Kovalski. But, that was not the case. I notified council about it and the change was made easily and quickly.

"At the same time, just east of Barry's Bay, a sign that read Crezel Road should have been Krezel Road. Someone noticed the mistake and the sign was corrected in short time.

"That makes me wonder why the correction for Skead Road took four years."