One of Toronto’s most prominent streets loses its name: Dundas Street will no longer be.
The Dundas name will be removed from all public property in Toronto, city council decided Wednesday, including the Yonge-Dundas Square monument and Dundas station.
The street was named in honor of Henry Dundas – a Scottish minister who was believed to have helped delay the end of the slave trade in Canada from the 1700s – long before a Torontonian was born.
The Council, in a 17-7 vote, decided that his legacy was not worthy of honor in 2021.
“It defies logic as to why you would keep celebrating someone who doesn’t deserve to be celebrated,” City Manager Chris Murray said during the debate. Its staff presented a report recommending the name change following a petition signed by nearly 14,000 people.
The petition signed by most Toronto residents – which Mayor John Tory asked staff to review – demanded the name change and is credited with triggering one of the most logistically complicated name changes that the city has suffered since the merger.
The city will change the signage and legal name of the 25 kilometers of Dundas Street that crosses the city. The decision does not affect other municipalities like Mississauga, which is also home to the east-west corridor.
A new name has not yet been decided.
An advisory committee will consult with the public on the nominees with the goal of having the board vote on a replacement by April 2022.
Staff are also reviewing some 60 other street names that have been raised as problematic. A process to decide the fate of these streets, like Indian Road, has not yet been put in place.
Several councilors, including two of Tory’s deputy mayors, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Stephen Holyday, opposed the name change in a debate on Wednesday afternoon, saying there had been no proper consultation and that Dundas was in fact an abolitionist.
Staff described their consultation with leaders of Black and Indigenous communities – the groups most affected by the oppressive legacy of British colonialism – and the peer-reviewed research they conducted that concluded that Dundas slowed the end. of the British slave trade. He added the word “gradually” to an abolitionist bill tabled in parliament and then opposed attempts to end the racist and deadly trade sooner, staff reported.
Council of Veterans. James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Center) said the issue was one of the most difficult during his tenure on council.
“If I was on a jury in the Henry Dundas trial for crimes against humanity or hate crimes, whatever the case, I would probably be the fugitive juror,” Pasternak said. “I don’t know if I could condemn him… We are trying to piece together events from over 200 years ago. “
Com. Jennifer McKelvie (Ward 25 Scarborough-Rouge Park) said it was enough to look at the next generation as a moral compass, saying her daughter told her it was the right thing to change the name despite the cost.
Tory himself has repeatedly spoken out in favor of the staff recommendation, saying he didn’t even know Henry Dundas existed before the petition or his painful legacy. He noted that Dundas clearly had no connection with Toronto or Canada.
“If we were sitting here today watching figures from the history of this city and this country, would there be any change you would consider even for a minute to name one of our most important streets? according to this man? I think the answer to that is a categorical no.