It’s the ‘Home of Joni Mitchell’ but Saskatoon is ‘probably too large’ to have a sign saying so at the edge of town

by Andrea Hill
National Post
January 10, 2017

SASKATOON - A sign proclaiming Saskatoon to be the hometown of legendary folk singer Joni Mitchell won't be erected anytime soon.

"Our community is probably too large to be recognizing one individual," Randy Grauer, the city's general manager of community services, told a city committee Monday.

"There are many, many citizens that are probably meritorious of being in that position and it's just not something that we have done in the past."

Grauer addressed the issue after Saskatoon resident Jan Coleman wrote to council asking that a "Home of Joni Mitchell" sign be erected at the entrance to the city to honour the musician who is known worldwide for her work.

Coleman pointed out that other communities in Saskatchewan have similar signage. For example, Tisdale - a community of roughly 3,000 people - has a sign that reads "Home of Comedian Brent Butt."

Mitchell was born in Fort MacLeod, Alta., in 1943 but moved often in her childhood before her family settled in Saskatoon when she was 11. She was a poor student and polio had affected her health, so she took up singing and songwriting.

According to her website, she gave her first paid performance one week before her 19th birthday, on Halloween night 1962, at a folk club in Saskatoon.

Councillors recommended that a city committee look into guidelines for putting up entrance signs to honour citizens.

If the city decides entrance signs are a no-go, it's possible Mitchell's name could be still be honoured in some other way. Grauer told the city's planning committee that recognizing Mitchell's name "has been discussed on and off for many, many years in Saskatoon on a whole variety of levels."

Coleman said she'd be "just thrilled with anything" to honour the musician and said it's been frustrating to watch the city give hockey legend Gordie Howe so much recognition - most recently naming the Circle Drive South Bridge after him - while Mitchell appears to be forgotten.

"It just boggles my mind," Coleman said. "I hope that something comes to fruition this time."


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