A tale of disputed traffic lights unfolds

Expositor editor debates the nuances with a Chatham chap

To the Expositor:

I recently visited your beautiful island. It had been a dream of mine since I was a child to see the swing bridge in action. Boy that thing can really swing when it wants to. Or when someone uses the controls. I was able to sample the local Swing Bridge Blonde Ale during my visit, which tastes exactly like a swing bridge. 

I was excited that there was a plaque about the history of the swing bridge, and it was interesting to read about the transformations it has gone through. While reading the plaque, I was excited to find out that the stoplight at the swing bridge is the only stoplight on all of Manitoulin Island. I was excited, that is, until I realized it is a lie. 

During my visit, I encountered not only one additional stoplight, but two additional stoplights. That’s a total of three stoplights on Manitoulin Island, not one, as the plaque indicated. Sources tell me there are two more stoplights further down the highway. I was also informed that all of these stoplights are due to construction. But where I come from, a stoplight is a stoplight, construction or not. And where I come from, 1 means 1. It doesn’t mean 3, and it doesn’t mean 5. It means 1, just like it says. 

I was lucky to be able to hike up the Cup and Saucer, which has one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. It’s too bad the view was tarnished by the lying plaque. If the swing bridge plaque was lying about the number of stoplights on the island, how could I trust that the trail was named the Cup and Saucer, and not the Fork and Ladle, or possibly the Moustache and Tophat? The truth is, I knew I couldn’t trust that trailhead sign, or any other sign on the Island, since I had exposed the very first sign I encountered as a lie. 

I’ve come up with a number of solutions to the plaque deception. The first would be to change the plaque whenever the number of stoplights change on the Island, to accurately reflect the new number, then take the old plaque to the dump (or just throw it into the channel). This way, the sign would always be accurate. Another solution would be to change the language to “it is the only stoplight at the swing bridge on all of the Island.” The third solution would be to ban any other stoplights on the Island at any point in the future. This is the easiest and most reasonable solution. 

It saddens me to think of how many tourists are deceived by this plaque every year. And how many people flock to Manitoulin Island based on its “one stoplight only” reputation, only to have their dreams crushed so quickly. Or worse, never knowing the truth. That’s why I’m writing to the Expositor, an award-winning newspaper with a proud history of doing what it does best: expositing. I hope you’ll do the right thing in raising awareness of this deceptive plaque before the reputation of Manitoulin Island is irreparably damaged. 


Terry Bolton,

Chatham, Ontario (a town where we tell the truth about how many stoplights we have) 


Hi Terry.

Interesting letter, but I’m not sure what other stoplights you are referring to? The bridge light is, in fact, the only stop light on Manitoulin. The construction lights are only temporary and therefore don’t count. 

The flashing amber lights in Little Current are cautionary, but not stoplights, so I think it is fair to say that the swing bridge has the distinction of being the only official, full-time stoplight on Manitoulin.

Thank you,


Alicia McCutcheon, editor

The Manitoulin Expositor

Hello Alicia,

Thank you for your response. I’m sorry for the delay, my bowling practice has been full throttle leading up to the bi-quarterly Chatham/Kent County tournament, and I wasn’t wanting to further stress my bowling arm with typing. Good news; another second place in the books for me and my bowling partner Keith. Feel free to mention that if you print my letter. If we ever figure out a way to beat the Mitchell Brothers, I’ll let you know. 

If you’ll refer to paragraph 3 of my letter, I was aware of the temporary nature of the construction lights. 

“I was also informed that all of these stoplights are due to construction. But where I come from, a stoplight is a stoplight, construction or not.”

You bring up the interesting point that “the swing bridge has the distinction of being the only official, full-time stoplight on Manitoulin.” And yet the plaque doesn’t say that is it the “only official, full-time stoplight on Manitoulin.” It says, if I am quoting correctly: “Because it has only a single lane, the bridge has a traffic light – the only one on Manitoulin.”

And I don’t know if this is just a cultural difference, and if it is, no offence intended. But where I come from in Chatham, when you say “the only one” it means “the only one” and not “the only one plus 2 or 4 more than that one.” 

My only intent is to help protect the reputation of Manitoulin Island as a respectable place to spend tourist dollars. Take it from a guy from a town where the tourism industry is built on honesty. 


Terry Bolton

Chatham, Ontario