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Penetanguishene's historic angels find new home at town's border

Penetanguishene's famous angels were on the move Wednesday to their new home at the town's border with neighbouring Midland.

"The original angels were put up in 1921. They were part of a 300th anniversary of Champlain being in the area," said Nicole Jackson of the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives.

The angels aren't just decorative statues. They are symbols of the town's heritage.

"It's really to let everyone know that you've come home, and it's deeply rooted in history, in our culture. To signify our Francophone, our English roots in the community and how we've come together as one community," said Mayor Doug Rawson.

"I think it's important to celebrate our history," added Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers.

One angel represents Quebec, the other Ontario. They were erected at a time when restrictions were put on teaching French in the public school system.

"And so it was quite interesting that this town proudly put up two angels that represented the two different languages of the province at a time when it would not have been welcome in most communities, said Jackson.

The new location for the Penetanguishene angels on the border with Midland on Highway 93. (CTV News/Ian Duffy)

The replica angels were moved further down Highway 93 because they were getting lost in a town that had grown and built up around them.

"Being able to showcase them in a prominent way might encourage a young person to research how they came to be. Why are they here? What's the relationship between the French and the English?" said Chambers.

The revamping of the entrance into Penetanguishene was made possible by community groups and a $272,000 grant from the federal government's Arts and Heritage program, and there is still plenty of more work to do beyond the statues.

"We're going to have an amazing gateway sign to welcome you to the community, some parkway, some better parkland and all the way up the existing spot. It's going to get cleaned up. It's going to look spectacular," said Rawson.

The original angels remain safe from the elements at the town's Centennial Museum, where they've been since the 1990s. The signage at the replica angels' new location will also include a land acknowledgement to recognize the indigenous people who were here before both the English and French. Top Stories

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