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There’s a petition to name an Ontario highway after Gordon Lightfoot

When Gordon Lightfoot wrote “Carefree Highway” in 1973, he was thinking about a stretch of Arizona State Route 74 north of Phoenix. I guess it was an inspiring drive through the desert.

Anyon who has ever traveled Hwy 400 north of Toronto knows that it can be anything but carefree, especially in the summer when thousands head north to cottages and for camping. But the 400 does lead up into Orillia, Ontario, Gord’s hometown. This is why there’s now a petition to name the 400–or even just part of it–“The Gordon Lightfoot Memorial Highway.”

I quote:

For millions of fans in Canada, the USA and indeed world-wide, his song writing and music is enjoyed again and again. It is picturesque, melodic, haunting and meaningful with words and metaphors that ring true. Gordon’s songs will live on. Many composed in the 1960s have already proven their timelessness, having already lived on for some six decades. His ‘hits,’ including those touching on Canadian and US history come readily to your mind. Can you not hear the words and tunes as you read the titles:Early Morning Rain, Sundown, Ribbon of Darkness, If You Could Read My Mind, Carefree Highway,  Rainy Day People, For Lovin’ Me, Cotton Jenny, The Railroad Trilogy, Black Day in July, The Last Time I saw Her, Go Go Round, Ghosts of Cape Horn, and Pussy Willows, Cat-tails? Many of his songs were also recorded by such well-known singers as Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Johny Cash, Peter Paul and Mary, Harry Belafonte, Glen Campbell, Anne Murray,  and Nana Mouskouri. A list of 412 of the more than 425 songs he composed follows this letter. Who among us knew that Gordon wrote so many? Simply amazing

Many of us feel the need to do more than share our memories of Gord and enjoy his songs. We and many others like us would like to honour him and be reminded or perhaps in some cases be made aware of his songs and the beautiful country he came from by having Highway 400, a highway that runs north from Toronto where he lived his adult life past Orillia where he lived his youth, named “The Gordon Lightfoot Memorial Highway” There are precedents. For example, in Quebec a portion of AutoRoute 40 is named after an internationally renowned Quebec French folk singer – Félix Leclerc, and Autoroute 50 recently has been renamed Autoroute Guy Lafleur. In Ontario two highways come to mind, James Snow Parkway, honouring a provincial politician and the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway honouring two of Canada’s founders.

Imagine the happy thoughts and songs that will come to mind and be played in vehicles as people from Canada and abroad travel this highway northward to and past Orillia and onward to the beautiful Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay and beyond!

Let’s honour our local hero by renaming Highway 400 after him. Please sign this petition if you agree that it’s time for us to pay tribute to the late great Gordon Lightfoot in this meaningful way.

If you want to sign the petition, go here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38542 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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