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Asbestos residents rename their town Val-des-Sources

October 20, 2020   by Reuters

Residents of the town of Asbestos in Quebec have voted to rename their community in a move to distance it from the once-ubiquitous mineral now recognized as being extremely poisonous and linked to lung and other cancers.

The town, formerly home to one of the world’s largest asbestos mines, voted 51.5 per cent in favour of changing its name to Val-des-Sources over five other options, according to results announced on Monday from a four-day referendum.

“It’s a name that represents our area, and especially, it’s inspiring for the future,” the town’s mayor, Hugues Grimard, said.

The new name, which means Valley of the Sources in English, refers to the community’s location at the confluence of three lakes and represents “the fusion of our history and our roots,” according to the town’s description.


Residents of Asbestos, 150 km east of Montreal and home to about 7,000 people, concluded the balloting on Sunday, with anyone over the age of 14 allowed to vote, the town said.

The town council approved the name on Monday night, although the change has several bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Grimard said he hoped the name change would be made official before December.

The town was built in the late 1870s after the discovery of a deposit of asbestos nearby led to the creation of the mine.

Asbestos was for years considered essential as fireproof insulation, among other uses in construction. It even figured in popular culture, with a 1935 song, “I Won’t Dance,” featuring the lyric: “For heaven rest us, I’m not asbestos.”


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