Not without right. So reads the motto on the Shakespearean family’s coat-of-arms. It is the case that William, and his father, John, applied to the Garter King of Arms for an armorial bearing to flaunt their noble antecedents. Some scholars say that the creative William borrowed a few ancestors.

Like a family motto, a city slogan is supposed to make its members feel good.   I grew up in Sherbrooke, Quebec, where the slogan was Queen of the Eastern Townships. I had no idea what townships were, had a somewhat better grasp of the direction east, knew intimately what a city was, but as for a queen, well . . .

As a kid, I knew that a queen was a grand lady, that she wore gowns to cover her wimples, and that, like Jack who fell down the hill, she had a crown. And that she had a helluva temper. “Off with her head!” she screamed at Alice. “Off with her head!” She musta had those townships scared shirtless.

Still, I was pleased with the slogan. But for the luck of the draw, I could’ve been born in Biggar, Saskatchewan, whose slogan is New York is Big But This Is Biggar. Or grown up in, say, Elliston, Newfoundland, Root Cellar Capital of the World. I am serious. Or (Lord love-a-duck!) lived in Linesville, Pennsylvania, Where the Ducks Walk on the Fish. I am not kidding. If you’ve never heard of them, they may not be flaunting it.

As it happens, many cities are partial to the “Queen” in their slogans.   In Canada, we have the Queen Cities of Toronto, and Regina, and Nelson, B.C.   These appellations remind us of our monarchical ties to London, the Queen’s Own City in England. In the Ignited States, there is hot competition for the title of Queen City, no doubt an atavistic response to the days when they clung to the umbilical cord of Mother England.

Lately, some Thunder Bayers have questioned their slogan, Superior by Nature. Perhaps it is too regal for them. Perhaps they’d prefer a more democratic one, like Mediocre by Nature. Personally, I hope that the grumps carry the day, for then Goshen could grab it. Because we know we’re better, and, what’s more, we’re prepared to flaunt it.

And we have a better claim to it. Ninety-nine percent of our land is Crown land, and if you factor in the lakes and waterways and swamps, you’ve got a hundred and ninety-two percent of the region owned by the Queen Herself.

There is a faction in Thunder Bay who support The City with a Giant Heart. I know what you’re thinking ̶ brand new regional health sciences centre, EKGs, and surgeons carving chunks from an enlarged cardiovascular organ. If you’re like me, when you or someone you know gets a gallstone, or passes blood, or needs a colectomy, you think Thunder Bay.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel that a slogan should try to attract visitors, make them want to do business in the city, maybe entice them to move there. It should not be an invitation to pain, anesthesia, and hospital food.

Some Bayers think that a new slogan should allude to the Sleeping Giant, the great rock that protects the Bay from the fury of Superior. “Sleeping” giant? I think not – not for several geologic ages past. Comatose, perhaps. Dead, more likely. Still, let’s go with the sleeping concept, and what do we have?

Thunder Bay, The Place to Shop and Snore. Thunder Bay, Where Fee and Fi Met Fo and Fum. Thunder Bay, Our Goliath Can Kick Your David’s Ass. Hey, I’m not saying I’m happy with these drafts. You try it.

And while you’re at it, mint a slogan for dear old Goshen. I’ll start you off – Goshen, The Gargle Capital of Gingery Ale. Goshen, More Than a Wide Place in the Road. Goshen, Where the Lord Loves a Duck.

You know, a lot of communities play the ecstatic angles. They lure you to a sportsman’s paradise, they promise you an athlete’s heaven, and they claim to be the homes of angels, or saints, or celebrities.

There’s one slogan that I like a lot. It’s The Sweetest Place on Earth. That’s the slogan. For Hershey, Pennsylvannia.

We could steal it. Nah. ‘Tis nobler in the mind to borrow it.

‘Twill not be without precedent.

We are not without right.

*   *   *

At a loss for words? Just keep slogan away.

 Originally published in The Gardens of Goshen, Volume 3, May 2006


About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website
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