September 26, 2012 7:13 am
Updated: March 18, 2013 3:00 pm

Street signs celebrating the Republic of Rathnelly appear in Toronto

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TORONTO – A farcical secession that started almost 50 years ago is one step closer to becoming an semi-official part of Toronto as “Republic of Rathnelly” street signs have started going up in the Toronto neighbourhood of Rathnelly.

Originally scheduled to be unveiled in Spring 2013, the signs feature “Republic of Rathnelly” at the top and the republic’s coat of arms – railroad tracks and six martini glasses.

The signs, costing approximately $7000, though seem to already be popping up in the central Toronto neighbourhood located between Avenue Road on the east and Davenport Road on the west, north of the train tracks between Dupont Street and Macpherson Avenue on the south and Poplar Plains Crescent on the north, according to Torontoneighbourhoods.net.

Matlow tweeted the following photo early on Wednesday morning.

The signs are a part of a beautification effort spearheaded by the community and City Councillor Josh Matlow.

“There’s a community spirit here that we wanted to reflect in the street signs that are in the neighbourhood. So the community came to me and said ‘you know we have an idea, we’d like to have street signs that rally, sort of brand and celebrate the spirit of our republic,’” Matlow said. “We put it all together and over the summer we were able to get them up. And I think they look remarkable.”

Matlow thinks the street signs will bring the residents of Rathnelly closer together by fostering conservation that will keep the quirky folklore such as “tug-a-wars across Avenue Road” and community spirit vibrant into the future.

“I think that these street signs will prompt the conversation to continue. For the younger generation to ask their parents ‘you guys were part of a revolution? You mean you actually seceded from Canada and started a republic in our own neighbourhood?’” Matlow said. “There are remarkable stories and I think that the street signs prompt those conversations but also ignite community spirit, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s about building community.”

The borders of the Republic of Rathnelly:

During the secession on July 1, 1967 the neighbourhood residents “elected a queen, organized a parade, formed an “air farce” of 1,000 helium balloons, and issued Republic of Rathnelly passports to everyone in the neighbourhood,” according to a history of the neighbourhood on RathnellyRepublic.com.

Rathnelly draws its name from the Rathnelly House built in 1830 by Senator William McMaster who was born in Rathnelly, Ireland.

An official song, Rathnelly the Brave, has also been penned to celebrate the republic.

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