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The 401-Highway of Heroes

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  • The 401-Highway of Heroes

    Highway of Heroes

    Canadians are not normally very patriotic, at least in the American mould, but something seems to have caught the attention of the public and politicians when our servicemen and women return home after making the ultimate sacrifice. The 401 is one of the five busiest highways in North America,the lifeblood of the Canadian(and US) auto industries, and the overpasses between CFB Trenton and Toronto, 100 miles west have been crowded with ordinary people from all walks of life, cadets, reserviests and emergency service personel when the processions sadly weave their way towards the City. I am very familiar with this route as my trailer is still at Exit 509 in Brighton and when there I commute to Toronto at least once a week. I do not have much time for Dalton McGuinty as a Premier but this is one thing he definately has done right. More than 38,500 people have now signed the petition.

    From and the Canadian Press:

    Ontario to dedicate Highway of Heroes in honour of soldiers felled in Afghanistan
    Published: Thursday, August 23, 2007 | 4:41 PM ET
    Canadian Press: MELISSA JUERGENSEN
    TORONTO (CP) - A stretch of Ontario highway that's become a sombre repatriation route for soldiers felled in Afghanistan, drawing impromptu gatherings of mourners saluting that sacrifice, is set to be renamed in their honour, the province said Thursday.The 170-kilometre stretch of Highway 401 between the eastern Ontario airbase where the flag-drapped coffins of fallen soldiers arrive and the forensics centre in Toronto that receives them has been dubbed the Highway of Heroes.

    More than 14,000 people have signed an electronic petition to officially rename that stretch of highway, where people gather on overpasses to wave flags, display placards of support, and salute the processions of hearses and limousines.

    On Thursday, Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield said there were "no barriers to making this happen."

    "I think when you consider the sacrifice that the soldiers and others have made, it's just a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on that sacrifice and to be able to acknowledge it," Cansfield said in a phone interview.

    "There's no reason not to do it. All we need to do now is get into the process of how quickly we can do it."

    Highway 401, the country's busiest, is currently named the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway. The government says it's considering several options in terms of dedicating a portion of the highway.

    "We don't know whether we rename one little part of it or if we leave the name and have that part of it dedicated," said Jamie Rilett, Cansfield's spokesman.

    "We're kind of early in the process to know which direction it's going to go, but there'll definitely be something dedicating that part of the highway to the fallen soldiers."

    The cost to dedicate the highway with signs will be minimal, Rilett added.

    Cansfield said the call to dedicate the highway came to her attention Wednesday when she was told about the online petition.

    James Forbes, 22, who's behind the petition said he's surprised he's attracted so much attention.

    "I am so happy," said Forbes, a London, Ont., resident who said he one day plans to enlist in the military.

    Forbes said he's received a lot of feedback from military families who've travelled along Highway 401 following repatriation ceremonies at CFB Trenton.

    "It seriously means absolutely everything to them," Forbes said of the public displays of support. "It just shows the families that the country feels for their loss."

    Cansfield and Premier Dalton McGuinty are expected to discuss the highway dedication on Friday. McGuinty was previously involved in changing the name of an Ottawa highway to Veterans Memorial Highway.

    The flag-draped coffin of the latest soldier to be killed in the war-torn country, Pte. Simon Longtin, was returned to CFB Trenton on Wednesday.

    The highway procession that followed inspired the same impromptu outpouring of support from the public that's become associated with repatriations as people gathered on overpasses along the route.

    It's a scene likely to be repeated in the coming days following Wednesday's loss of two more soldiers in Afghanistan.

    Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier of the Royal 22nd Regiment and Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne of the 5th Field Ambulance were killed when their transport vehicle encountered an IED.

    Their caskets will be returned to CFB Trenton in the next few days.

  • #2
    Its a nice dedication for the fallen soldiers.... Thumbs up!
    Inactive from May 1 2009.


    • #3
      We are getting signs where Hwy 35/115 meets the 401.