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Official Closing of the Commemoration of 400 Years of Francophone Presence in Ontario

Archived News Release

Official Closing of the Commemoration of 400 Years of Francophone Presence in Ontario

Ontario Unveils Provincial Plaques and Opens the Legacy Walk in the Champlain-Wendat Rotary Park

Ministry of Francophone Affairs

Today, the Ontario government along with Ontario Heritage Trust and the Town of Penetanguishene, marked the official closing of the commemoration of 400 years of Francophone presence in Ontario. 

The celebration included the opening of the Legacy Walkway in Rotary Champlain Wendat Park and the unveiling of three provincial plaques commemorating French explorer Samuel de Champlain's time in Ontario. These plaques reinforce the lasting cultural legacy in the region and mirror those given to Champlain's home port of Honfleur, France in 2015.

A statue of Étienne Brûlé and five busts representing important historical characters who had a significant role in the history of Ontario and Canada were also unveiled along the Legacy Walkway.

The completion of this walkway represents the end of the redevelopment phase of the Penetanguishene Park as part of the 400th commemoration. 

Celebrating Franco-Ontarian culture is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and creating jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is also making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Quick Facts

  • The official commemoration of 400 years of French presence in Ontario included a series of events and activities that showcased Franco-Ontarian heritage and culture. More than 611 000 Francophones live in Ontario, the largest Francophone community outside of Quebec.
  • On March 31, 2015, Ontario along with the federal government and Town of Penetanguishene / County of Simcoe, signed an agreement to redevelop the existing Champlain Huron-Wendat Park in Penetanguishene through six phases.
  • The park project consists of six development phases including a Legacy Walkway, the look-out point, a floating platform, a Champlain-themed playground for children ages 2-12, a waterfront boardwalk, a field stone natural amphitheatre and a native arboretum.

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“On behalf of the government of Ontario, I am extremely happy to participate in the unveiling of the beautiful Legacy Walkway. The walkway honours all of the people who contributed to building our Ontarian and Franco-Ontarian identity, as well as those who today contribute to its continued development. I would like to thank all of those who accompanied us during this great commemorative year which officially closes today.”

The Honorable Madeleine Meilleur

Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs

“The Government of Canada is a leader in promoting our linguistic duality and supporting official language minority communities. We are pleased to be associated with the celebrations of the 400 years of French presence in Ontario.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly

Minister of Canadian Heritage

“The history of Ontario's Francophone community is rich. These commemorations highlight 400 years of history brilliantly. We wish Franco-Ontarians a rich and brilliant future!”

Paul Lefebvre

Member of Parliament for Sudbury

“We are extremely honoured to be unveiling the Legacy Walkway in our beautiful Champlain Wendat Rotary Park today. The walkway honours the many faces that have left an indelible mark on Penetanguishene, Ontario and Canadian History.”

M. Gerry Marshall

Mayor, Town of Penetanguishene

“Once again, history and friendship unite us. I am extremely proud to have traveled to Ontario to represent the Mayor of Honfleur as well as all Honfleur citizens during this emotional moment that enriches the great Francophone adventure, and to play a role in shaping its future.”

Nathalie Oléon-Papin

Deputy Mayor of Honfleur, France

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