Canadian town of Asbestos pins hopes on name-change

For nearly 150 years, the Jeffrey asbestos mine in the town east of Montreal was one of the world’s largest – and the biggest employer in town. Over the years, however, as experts learned of the dangers associated with asbestos, the town’s name has become somewhat tarnished. Amid growing frustration from residents, officials have launched a bold plan: renaming the town.

The new effort marks the second time Asbestos has tried to rebrand itself. In 2006 town councillors proposed the idea but received little support. While the current attempt will probably cost nearly $100,000, there is hope the contest will bring attention – and potential investment – to the region.


Some residents have advocated names that pay homage to the region, including City of Three Lakes. Other suggested reaching out to Indigenous groups to guidance on the traditional names for the region. Most, however, have been tongue-in-cheek, including Poumontousse (a portmanteau of “lung” and “cough”), the Hole and Asbestos 2.0.