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To the or not to the: a 12-year debate

In 2008 I wrote my first council story and it was about the word 'the'
2020_05_25 TBM Welcome sign_JG
The Blue Mountains welcomes you. Emphasis on the 'the.' Jennifer Golletz/CollingwoodToday

It was September 2008, Corona was just a beer and I was starting my first local job as a reporter. 

At the time, I worked for the (now closed) Blue Mountains Courier-Herald. It was a weekly newspaper available by subscription only. I know it was only 12 years ago, but I feel rather like a grandparent telling a small child about the weird way we used to do things “in my day.” 

Around one week into the job, I covered my first municipal council meeting, and 12 years later I still think about it. It’s a glamorous life for a reporter, let me tell you. 

The meeting was at the library – since the site of the current town hall was still an old gas station.

I remember one single agenda item, though time and re-telling might have added fish tale elements.

The tale is this: the town needed to decide if it was going to use “The” for “The Blue Mountains.” The town had amalgamated and the official name was Town of the Blue Mountains. But for the post office, you shorten it. (For example: Collingwood’s full corporation name is Town of Collingwood, but when the vet reminds me my dog needs shots, it’s addressed to me in Collingwood, ON).

Folks, this discussion lasted more than an hour. There was a staff report. Council went back and forth. They talked about the (little-t) Blue Mountains in Australia and Blue Mountain Resort. I seem to faintly recall a conversation about the cost implications too, but I cannot remember what those might be. Ink? 


Three letters. 

In the end, those three letters stayed and it was the-with-a-capital-T. But I think you still write just regular Blue Mountains, ON on the envelope, or Thornbury, or Ravenna, or Craigleith, or Clarksburg, etc …

Remembering the council meeting is sort of like remembering an old commercial. You remember the funny bits, but not what it was advertising.

It’s a shame, but probably too big a request, those three little letters don't do more to distinguish between Blue Mountain Resort and the Town of The Blue Mountains. 

A story we posted about Blue Mountain Resort implementing a paid hiking pass had commenters launching a virtual mob armed with angry keyboards vehemently opposed to "charging for access to public land." Of course, the town trails remained free to hikers. The resort trails, on privately-owned resort land, required the paid pass.

I think about this council meeting every time I’m editing a story from our The Blue Mountains reporter, Jennifer Golletz. I thought about it again for this sentence that awkwardly states “our The.” 

I do what I can with the headlines, using TBM for the town, and Blue Mountain Resort for the resort. 

But alas, I find myself walking up a hill rolling a three-letter word all the way to the top to watch it roll to the bottom again. Like The Sisyphus, not to be confused with just plain Sisyphus. 

To add the insult to the injury, The Blue Mountains doesn’t even get credit for the Blue Mountains. 

I’ve personally witnessed at least one Premier of Ontario let everyone know how glad he was to be in Collingwood – from a podium at Blue Mountain Resort. Collingwood gets all the fame from the Blue Mountains without any of the tax dollars or short-term accommodation bylaws. 

I don’t know what the answer is, but the problem wasn’t solved with a capital T.

I guess that’s why the discussion over those three little letters lasted more than an hour and why, 12 years later, I’ve spent 500 words on it. Or maybe I’m just trying to deliver something that doesn’t mention COV---.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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