Steyn notes a pathetic passing.
Last call for Sir John A Macdonald: The establishment at top right is a small trivial example of a profound sickness. Sir John’s Public House is a Scottish pub in Kingston, Ontario located in the building where Canada’s first Prime Minister once had his law office. On Tuesday, the publican changed the name and replaced the signs. It is no longer “Sir John’s Public House”, merely “The Public House”:
“Some of our customers and some of the native organizations in the Kingston area said that they could no longer do business with us. They said that it was no longer a safe place for them, and that the name ‘Sir John’s’ just brought back too many unhappy memories for their communities,” Fortier said.
What sort of ninny goes to a Scots pub looking for “a safe place”? I had an agreeable lunch there a couple of years back when passing through Kingston, but can’t say I’d be minded to return now it’s joined the ranks of the culturally craven. Instead of “The Public House”, why not something catchier like “Omar Khadr’s Public House”?
Why not something more realistic, like Khaled’s Dar Al Harb (no alcohol allowed)? But then we get down to cases, from a much less depressing era:
Pub names, unlike those of most other retail outlets, are explicitly intended to be a) distinctive and b) rooted in history. I don’t just mean all the familiar English ones like the George & Dragon and the Saracen’s Head, which are assuredly on the way out as Islamophobia-hate-crimes-in-waiting, but I’m also thinking of rarer coinages like the Hielan Jessie on the Gallowgate in Glasgow, named for Jessie Brown, wife of a corporal in the 17th Highland Regiment, who in the Indian Mutiny, after her husband was killed, rallied his surviving comrades to fight on by claiming to hear the approaching bagpipes of the 78th Highlanders. As a predecessor of mine at The Spectator reported in 1857:
Suddenly I was aroused by a wild unearthly scream close to my ear; my companion stood upright beside me, her arms raised and her head bent forward in the attitude of listening. A look of intense delight broke over her coun- tenance, she grasped my hand, drew me towards her and exclaimed ‘Dinna ye hear ‘it? Ay, I’m no dreamin’, it’s the slogan o’ the Highlanders! We’re saved!’ Then flinging herself on her knees she thanked God with passionate fervour.
Isn’t that a bit triggering for all those descendants of mutinous sepoys now running Glasgow corner shops?
The owner of Sir John’s Public House is like a lot of Canadians. He thinks it’s easy and painless to surrender the past. He doesn’t realize that, when you surrender the past, you’re also surrendering the future.
Or, to pare it down to its barest skin: when you surrender either, you’re…surrendering.