Ontario was “Yours to Discover” and so is Glenn Gould

For those of you outside of Canada, you likely have not heard about the license plate fiasco here in Ontario. Elected in 2018, Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative government, have recently brought into action, a plan to change the look of provincial license plates.

Previously, Ontario plates were blue on white and contained the slogan, “Yours to Discover.” The plates were fine and many folks saw no reason for reversing the colours and replacing the old slogan with, “A Place to Grow.” (Plates on commercial vehicles now contain the slogan, “Open for Business.”) Well, it happened and so that was that, or so we thought.

When the new plates went out earlier this month, people were appalled to find that the licenses are extremely difficult to read. Premier Ford and his team have been in touch with 3M (the manufacturers of the plates) and are working to get proper replacements out. Comments ranging from safety concerns to the fact that the new plates resemble a box of Q-tips, have generated for the Premier, a lot of backlash or, “Plategate” as it has come to be known. (Click here to read an article from the February 21, 2020 edition of The Toronto Star.)

With all of the chatter about license plates, it got me to thinking about how Ontario plates have changed and how they looked when Glenn Gould was alive. Of course, Glenn loved driving and traversing the rugged shores of his home province from the security of his apartment on wheels. (Click here for a previous blog post about Glenn’s cars.)

Here then, is a chronological list of Glenn’s recordings alongside the corresponding Ontario license plates for each year.

1955:

1956:

1957:

1958:

1959:

1960:

1961:

1962:

1963:

1964:

1965:

1966:

1967 (With “Confederation” marking for Canadian centennial):

1968:

1969:

1970:

1971:

1972:

1973 (With slogan, “Keep it Beautiful”; in use thru 1982; actual plate design in use thru 1978):

1974 (See 1973):

1975 (See 1973):

1976 (See 1973):

1977 (See 1973):

1978 (Still with slogan, “Keep it Beautiful”; actual plate design in use thru 1982):

1979 (See 1978):

1980 (See 1978):

1981 (See 1978):

1982 (With slogan, “Yours to Discover”; in use thru 2020; actual plate design in use thru 1986):

Added to Ontario license plates in 1982, the slogan, “Yours to Discover” had actually been implemented several years earlier. No doubt, Glenn would have seen ads such as this.

Posthumous Album Releases:
1983 (See 1982):

1984 (See 1982):

1986-94:

1994-97:

1997-2020:

2020-Present:

Interestingly, it was Bill Davis’s Progressive Conservative government that decided to add “Yours to Discover” to the license plates and now, more than thirty-seven years later, Ontarians are getting used to a new slogan, “A Place to Grow”.

As we have seen, prior to 1973, Ontario license plates had no slogans. They were just a straight up license and, in a way, though we certainly do need growth in the tourism sector (according to this article from TV Ontario, that was the reason for the slogans in the first place) I think Glenn would have agreed that the presence of anything more than a license number was unnecessary, that a plate with a slogan was a plate calling for attention, as if to say, “Look at me!”

In the 1979 film, Glenn Gould’s Toronto, Glenn spoke of his love for a city that does not impose it’s “city-ness” upon you. True as it may be that Ontario’s license plates (post-1973) have increasingly been imposing themselves upon us, at the end of the day, I think what really matters is that we actually are discovering, growing and keeping it beautiful. This applies not just to our province, but to all of our planet Earth. It may not be a small task, yet, armed with music and the contributions of artists like Glenn Gould, we can do it.

(Album info via www.glenngould.com. Ontario license plate info via Wikipedia.)

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