Stretch of 401 to be renamed 'Highway of Heroes'
The stretch of Highway 401 running from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto will be officially renamed the Highway of Heroes in remembrance of Canada's fallen soldiers.
Ontario's provincial government consulted the federal government, municipalities along the highway and the Royal Canadian Legion about the name change on Friday.
The highway will not lose its official designation at the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, but signs will be erected designating the route as the Highway of Heroes.
The design of the signs has yet to be determined.
The man behind the online petition in support of renaming a section of Canada's busiest highway says he has been overwhelmed by the response.
Jay Forbes had been receiving between 400 and 500 signatures a day in support of the name "Highway of Heroes" but the amount of people signing the petition has rapidly increased over the last few days.
"In the first four days I had 4,500 signatures," Forbes told CTV's Canada AM on Friday morning. "But now...I (have) 20,000."
Forbes decided to create the petition after seeing positive feedback toward an article on the Internet about renaming a section of Highway 401 the Highway of Heroes.
"I just had enough time and I whipped up a petition," Forbes said.
The support for the petition has come at a time when, residents, police officers and firefighters have been gathering to salute and wave flags on Highway 401 overpasses while motorcades carrying the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan make their way to the coroner's office in Toronto.
Forbes' actions have been supported by retired Lt.-Col. Peter Dawe, whose son Capt. Matthew Dawe was killed in Afghanistan in July.
Dawe said that his son would have been supportive of renaming a section of the highway.
"I think there's a need for Canadians to show support for the troops to recognize the sacrifice," Dawe said.
It would also provide healing and support families of fallen soldiers, he said.
"At the same time I think we need to keep our eye on the rest of the military who are putting it on the line for our great country every day," Dawe said. "So somehow, you've got to balance that."
Nevertheless, Dawe feels the support from a cross-section of Canadians gathering on the highway overpasses is an "incredible phenomenon."
It's a show of support that the creator of the petition has successfully transferred to the online realm.
"It's truly amazing to see and it just goes to show how many people do support the troops in Canada," Forbes said. "It's just great."
With files from The Canadian Press