What's new in St. Vital
In this case, what's old is new again. Two years ago, I was looking at an old map of St. Vital with Bob Holliday, head of the St Vital Historical Society. I pointed to a street named "de la Giclais" and asked “What is that?" Bob said that modern-day Sterling was once called "de la Giclais" but this changed because it was the end of the bus loop and people found the French name too hard to pronounce. "Yeah right" I thought. I asked City Archives staff to look into it - and Bob was right.
In 1958, the RM of St. Vital Council voted to rename the street because residents had petitioned and the name was too hard to pronounce. I checked this out last summer with the late Tom Sidebottom at a seniors building and he told me “We said delajicklay", or even better “de la giggly ass". And so I decided that after almost 60 years I would put things right and restore the French name “de la Giclais" in honour of the French history and French community in St. Vital". The original street name is believed to be in honour of Marie Joseph Alain Magon de la Giclais, a St. Boniface area businessman with strong ties to the local French community, and who fought for France in World War I and was awarded the Croix de legion d'honneur. I did NOT want to change the name of Sterling, which now has its own history. Luckily, the city is set to open a small pedestrian pathway or sentier in French, at the south end of St. Vital, leading from Twickenham Circle to Frobisher. The pathway is not far from École Christine-Lespérance and Centre scolaire Léo-Rémillard (two newish all-French schools), so it seemed a good place to restore “de la Giclais" to the St. Vital map.
On January 9, my naming motion passed its first step (thanks to Councillors Allard and Lukes for their support) at Riel Community Committee. If it succeeds at the next committee we will name the trail this spring with appropriate signage explaining this rather odd history.
St. Vital is a great mix of the new and the old, and in this instance Sentier de la Giclais Pathway will be a bit of both!