Historical Marker To Honour Canada's Role In Ending The Cold War sign now

Mikhail Gorbachev and his most democratic strategist, Aleksandr Yakovlev, are together responsible for the reforms of perestroika and glasnost, which led to the end of the Communist Party's dictatorship over the Soviet Union and helped conclude the Cold War. The two men first discussed their plans for reform in Canada.

The conversation happened on May 19, 1983, at the Essex County, Ontario, farm of Canadian Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan. Gorbachev, then the Soviet Party Secretary for Agriculture, was in Canada for an official tour. Also in the delegation was Yakovlev, then the Soviet ambassador to Canada. The occasion was a dinner at Whelan's home. As they waited for Whelan to arrive for the dinner, Yakovlev and Gorbachev slipped out the home's back entrance to get some air. Realizing they were separated from their handlers for the first time, the two men spoke frankly about the challenges facing their country as they strolled along a tractor path behind Whelan's home.

"This was [a] free country, where people feel like people in the conditions of freedom and work in the conditions of freedom... people could show initiative, which in our country was often punished. And it's from that point of view that our conversation with Yakovlev definitely took place. It was a conversation about the Canadian experience, about using it as an example." -- Mikhail Gorbachev

"The most important common understanding was the idea that we could not live this way anymore. We talked about absolutely everything, openly, and it was clear to me that this was a new kind of leader. It was a thrilling experience, politically and intellectually." -- Aleksandr N. Yakovlev

Yakovlev would identify this as the conversation in which perestroika was born, explaining that 80\% of what came to be known as perestroika was mentioned in Eugene Whelan's backyard. I believe the historical importance of this world-changing conversation should be recognized. I support the construction of a historical marker at the Whelan home to honour the location where Mikhail Gorbachev and his adviser and eminence grise, Aleksandr Yakovlev, discussed for the first time the perestroika reforms.

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Latest Signatures

  • 15 August 201550. Jessa S
  • 22 June 201549. Tl R
    I support this petition
  • 02 June 201548. Rhys T
    Mr. Whelan is a hell of a character and statesman. No surprise at all he contributed in such a significant way to international politics of the time.
  • 16 April 201547. Dave S
    Hey, now is the time to push hard for this! Good luck.
  • 05 March 201546. Todd B
    I was in grade 11 at General Amherst High School in Amherstburg at the time. The Soviets being in Amherstburg was quite the talk at the time.
  • 26 February 201545. Paul M
    I support this petition
  • 29 August 201444. N O
    Proposed marker commemorating this historic event is a very good choice.
  • 22 July 201443. Richard P
    Windsor, Ontario
  • 06 April 201442. Henry Dycks
    good work. We need to set history right.
  • 25 March 201441. Grace M
  • 02 March 201440. Michael B
    I support this petition
  • 18 February 201439. Kathleen Wilcox
    I knew about the Whelan - Gorbechev - Canadian connection many years ago. But I did not know about the walk. How wonderful that Eugene was late getting home that day. Thanks
  • 28 October 201338. Chris S
  • 29 August 201337. Isaac J
    I support this petition
  • 22 August 201336. Lisa D
    I support this petition
  • 29 March 201335. George B
    Absolutely correct thing to do, when one considers the magnitude of the events in the Soviet Union and Europe, following Gorby's time with Mr. Whelan. The ending of the Cold War was as signal as the Russian revolution of 1917 -- both amongst the half-doze
  • 28 November 201234. The Jonesf
    I support this petition
  • 28 April 201233. Vadim Mikhaylov
    In early 90-s I acted as a formal inetrpreter in talk between Mr. Yakovklev and Mr. Whelan which took place in Kremlin. Both of them are great persons!
  • 07 April 201232. Natalie T
    I support this petition
  • 04 February 201231. David M
    Amazing! Great story! This should happen.
  • 10 December 201130. James W
    I support this petition
  • 25 November 201129. Colette M
    I am proud to know that it was through demonstrating our agricultural system that wise reforms were born
  • 07 August 201128. S G
    The only way to fly. We need this marker!
  • 01 July 201127. Arthur K
    I support this petition
  • 11 December 201026. Brett D
    I support this petition
  • 14 August 201025. Mary R
    I support this petition
  • 02 July 201024. Jane H
    I support this petition

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Bianca LewisBy:
Petition target:
Ontario Heritage Trust


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