Men not evil

Dear Editor:

RE: Ditch plaques, Jan. 24.

Rachel Bernstein’s letter contending that the many historical plaques that grace both Fergus and Elora homes are “dated” is accurate.

They are indeed dated, quite literally. And it is this date, typically the mid-to-late 19th century, that Bernstein should keep in mind before advocating “ditching” them altogether. 

Simply getting rid of said signs would not change the fact that men of that era, not women, typically owned properties and businesses and were the principal providers for their families. Why can we not celebrate their achievements? In all of history it was men who created the bulk of music, art, architecture. No one is saying women didn’t also contribute in equally important but different ways. 

Does anyone seriously think that because only the man’s name appears on the plaque, there did not reside women within who obviously contributed to the household and community? It was men, by and large, who generated the income to create our beautiful built heritage, who designed it and who physically built it, whose names were on the deed. So what? They were doing good and adding beauty to the world within the confines of their time. 

Will we stop at the sign? Should we tear down the whole house too? To be offended by historical statements is short-sighted. Being labeled “spinster” was simply the historically accurate descriptor for an unmarried woman, even young women. It is found in countless historical records including marriage records. It was not a judgement of character.  The fact that we would no longer use such a term is sufficient and adds to the awareness of how far we’ve come. 

I agree that it is important to honour female participation as well. I challenge Bernstein to discover and create a way to honour the contribution of local women that is as public and dignified as the house plaques she objects to.

Endowing the past with the values of the present may be tempting but it is not historically accurate. Our history is what it is, not perfect. If nothing else, it helps us see how far we’ve come.  It is important to be aware of it.

Great men did great things in Wellington County. They were not evil. We don’t need to bring them down to honour the women who also did great things.

Catarina Burguete,