After years of debate, a Quebec town formerly called Asbestos has decided on a new name: Val-des-Sources.
The town of 7,000 people was named Asbestos for more than a century because of the asbestos mine in the heart of the town. At one time, the Jeffery Mine in Asbestos was the largest opencast chrysotile asbestos mine in the world.
When the World Health Organization declared asbestos a carcinogen in 1987, the mine’s owner declared bankruptcy. The mine didn’t officially close until 2012. Since then, the town’s officials have been ready to change the name.
Citizens of the town have not always been in favor of changing the name. Despite the danger asbestos poses, it was key to the town’s identity.
Many of the town citizens worked in the mine. When there was a high demand for asbestos, local citizens took pride in their land and labor. They believed they were making the world safer until the negatives effects of the mineral become more widely known.
Local officials proposed changing the name in 2006, but the citizens were not in favor. A list of possible names was revealed again in 2020.
The new name, Val-des-Sources was decided upon from a group of names that included Phénix, after the mythical bird reborn from its ashes, L’Azur-des-Cantons, a nod to the azure color of a local lake, and Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, for the farmer who founded the mine in the 1870s.