People occupying space at Yonge and Dundas street, after the discovery of hundreds of remains of children at former indigenous residential schools, on Canada Day in Toronto, Ontario, on July 1, 2021. (REUTERS)
People occupying space at Yonge and Dundas street, after the discovery of hundreds of remains of children at former indigenous residential schools, on Canada Day in Toronto, Ontario, on July 1, 2021. (REUTERS)

Colonial-era street in Toronto to be renamed

The reason for removing Henry Dundas’ name was due to his “controversial legacy”, according to a document from the Toronto City Council.
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya | Edited by Amit Chanda
PUBLISHED ON JUL 15, 2021 10:51 AM IST

Dundas Street, a major thoroughfare in Canada’s largest city Toronto will be renamed. It comes after a petition sought the removal of the person it was named after because of his role in delaying the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Other civic assets named after Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811), a Scottish lawyer, politician, and one of British Prime Minister William Pitt’s most trusted and powerful ministers, will also be renamed. They include two stations of Toronto’s subway system as well as the Yonge-Dundas Square, a major venue for outdoor events including concerts and in earlier years, the India Day Parade held to celebrate August 15.

The reason for scrubbing Dundas’ name was given as his “controversial legacy”, according to a document from the Toronto City Council. It said, “The petition called for the street to be renamed because of Dundas’ role in delaying the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the 1790s. It was not until 1807 that the Slave Trade Act was enacted, ending the slave trade in the British Empire. During this period, more than half a million more Black people were enslaved in British territories.”

The council voted upon and passed the proposal on Wednesday.

A statement said this was part of the city of Toronto’s “commitment to confronting anti-Black racism, advancing truth, reconciliation and justice, as well as building a more inclusive and equitable Toronto”. A new name will be decided upon next year.

“The renaming process will be led by a Community Advisory Committee made up of black and indigenous leaders and representatives from the diverse communities living and working along Dundas Street, including business improvement areas and resident associations,” the statement added.

Commenting on the council decision, Toronto mayor John Tory said, “We acknowledge that this is just the first of many steps to come, but this a genuine step in the right direction of who we are and what we can be. The names of our public streets, parks, and monuments are a reflection of our values as Torontonians.”

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