Decision to rename Mount Logan for Trudeau stirs controversy

Posted: Friday, October 06, 2000

WHITEHORSE, Yukon (AP) -- Ottawa's snap decision to rename Canada's highest peak after former prime minister Pierre Trudeau has angered those with personal ties to the mountain.

''What it amounts to is trashing the name of one of the most brilliant surveyors Canada has ever produced,'' Bradford Washburn, the honorary director of the Boston Sciences Museum, told the Whitehorse Star.

In the 1930's, Washburn took part in pioneering expeditions on Alaska's Mount McKinley and throughout the Saint Elias Mountains in the Yukon, where Mount Logan is located.

Washburn, 90, was one of the first people to fly around the mountain, which, at 19,551 feet, is the second-tallest in North America.

Mount Logan was named after Sir William Logan, a surveyor who made the first-ever geological maps of Canada in the 1800s.

But Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced Wednesday, the day after Trudeau's funeral, that the peak would be re-named. He said Trudeau had once suggested he and Chretien climb it.

''I'm all in favour of naming something very significant after this fellow,'' Washburn said. But he said there are many as-yet unnamed mountains and glaciers that could have been given the Trudeau name.

Washburn also suggested naming the Trans-Canada Trail after the long-time prime minister.

Charlie Roots of the Geological Survey of Canada, which was founded by Logan, anticipated other complaints.

''We'll live with it. There's going to be a backlash,'' he said. ''I just wish that the manner in that it was done was more open.''

The Kluane First Nation was also unhappy it was not consulted on the name change.

''Kluane First Nation does not object to the renaming of Mount Logan in honour of the memory of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau,'' the band said in a statement Thursday. ''However, we do object to the process used to make this decision.''

The band said the Kluane First Nation Final Agreement requires that Ottawa consult with band officials on naming places in its traditional territory.

The band said it has submitted traditional place names for other areas within the territory and has been waiting for approval for years.

''Kluane First Nation was shocked by the almost immediate decision to rename Mount Logan,'' the statement said.

No one at the Kluane First Nation office in Burwash Landing was available for comment Thursday.

Ottawa has said another mountain in the St. Elias Mountain Range would be named Mount Logan, but Roots said that would cause confusion.

Chretien was the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs in Trudeau's cabinet when Kluane National Park was created by his department.

Premier Pat Duncan said Chretien called her about the name change Wednesday afternoon.

''This is a very thoughtful, kind gesture by the prime minister, who is also a personal friend grieving the loss of a friend,'' Duncan said.

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