The Golden Truth
Fifty-seven years ago, a popular geographic term was born
By Erica Strada
“Hamilton in 50 years will be the forward cleat in a golden horseshoe of industrial development, from Oshawa to the Niagara River...150 miles long and 50 miles wide. It will run from Niagara Falls on the south to about Oshawa on the north and take in numerous cities and towns already there.”
That was the contention of Westinghouse Canada President Herbert H. Rogge in a speech to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce on January 12, 1954. It was also the first recorded reference of the Golden Horseshoe term: “horseshoe” referencing the shape of the west end of Lake Ontario, with Burlington at its apex; and “golden” a nod to both the region’s inherent and potential wealth and prosperity.
As with many speeches by high-powered officials, the words were not Rogge’s own. They were concocted by Charles Hunter McBain, an executive assistant to five Westinghouse presidents, including Rogge. But the Golden Horseshoe term stuck, and proved prophetic.
Several companies and institutions have since incorporated the term into their names—the vast majority situated within the region’s more modern referenced boundaries of Oakville to Niagara Falls— including the McMaster University-based Golden Horseshoe Biosciences Network. Politically, though, the region is much larger. On July 13, 2004, a report from Ontario’s Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal entitled “Places to Grow” coined the term Greater Golden Horseshoe, extending the boundaries west to Waterloo, north to Barrie, and northeast to Peterborough—a geographical region with a projected population of 11.5 million by 2031.