Friday, December 19, 2014Mostly Cloudy -1°C
City

Is "Sir John A. Macdonald Avenue" coming to Toronto?

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 13, 2014

toronto bathurst streetCouncillor Paul Ainslie wants city council to rename a "significant" street in Toronto in honour of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Nationwide celebrations are planned for January 11, 2015, Macdonald's 200th birthday, and the name change would be part of Toronto's contribution.

A small number of cities, including Kingston, Ottawa and Saskatoon, already have roads named in his honour, and the 401 is officially the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway. Though it appears Ainslie is open to suggestions, A Toronto Star article published in December suggested the "bland" Avenue Road might be a good option.

Last week, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong moved a motion asking city staff to report on whether Union Station could be renamed for Macdonald. A report is due in April.

Macdonald, a father of confederation and former Toronto resident, helped form the Canadian Pacific Railway and was an advocate for women's suffrage. In recent years, Macdonald's legacy has been a source of criticism, particularly due to his racist views of Chinese immigrants and Canada's First Nations people.

If the motion gets council approval, a report on the matter will be presented to the public works committee in Spring.

What street would be good, if any, to receive the name? Is this a better idea than renaming Union Station?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Andy Carroll/blogTO Flickr pool.

Discussion

45 Comments

Al / February 13, 2014 at 10:36 am
user-pic
John A. MacDonald was a drunk racist. He was also thrown out of office for taking bribes from railway companies. We should not be honouring him.
terry / February 13, 2014 at 10:43 am
user-pic
where the hell are all these stupid ideas coming from? did all our councils suddenly get TVO? and start watching canadian history programs?
mike in parkdale / February 13, 2014 at 10:45 am
user-pic
If they rename Avenue, then people would just called it "Sir John Avenue".

actually.... I like that.
RacismETC replying to a comment from Al / February 13, 2014 at 10:54 am
user-pic
I think we can name things after the 1st PM this country had. It's always dangerous to judge the past through the lens of the present. It's an ugly truth, but basically 100% of people were significantly more racist in the 1800s than they are today. To me, it commerorates our first PM i.e. our independence from the UK. He was a nation builder, that's his legacy. I guess you want him removed from our money too?
Jacob / February 13, 2014 at 11:14 am
user-pic
NO, we have to keep Avenue Road!

It's a name that doesn't make sense to non-Torontonians!
Michael / February 13, 2014 at 11:22 am
user-pic
Renaming streets is a real pain in the ass for cities, as would be the proposal to rename Union Station. And this is going to allow people (for better or for worse) to expose the true record of our first Prime Minister.

We could name something after him...that was brand new. But owing to the chaos that changing Boulevard Dorchester to Boulevard René-Levesque in Montreal surely caused, maybe we should allow our history to remain our history instead of retconning it whenever some politician has nothing better to do.
W. K. Lis / February 13, 2014 at 11:26 am
user-pic
Combine Albion Road, Wilson Avenue, York Mills Road, and Ellesmere Road into one named road, Sir John A. Macdonald Avenue. Or, the eastern part (east of Yonge Street) to Sir John A. Macdonald Avenue, and rename the part west of Yonge Street to Nelson Mandela Avenue.
Materloo / February 13, 2014 at 11:34 am
user-pic
Rename Kingston Road.
Todd Toronto / February 13, 2014 at 11:36 am
user-pic
Here's an idea. Why not just exploit the fact that the 401, as mentioned, is already co-named for Sir John A. Put the M-C signs back up (http://www.thekingshighway.ca/IMAGES/hwy401.jpg), and start spelling out MacDonald-Cartier on directional signs.

I mean, we named North America's busiest highway after the man, we should take advantage of that instead of renaming other streets.
poh replying to a comment from Al / February 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm
user-pic
Would be appropriate considering the city's current mayor...
How about "Oxy Avenue"? / February 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm
user-pic
You know, to honour R-b F--d.
the lemur / February 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm
user-pic
I normally have some respect for Ainslie but this is almost as dumb an idea as DMW's was.

No roads in Toronto need renaming. If a brand new road gets built somewhere, THAT can be named for Sir John A. Or we can give him a statue or something.

As for the people saying Avenue Road is bland or doesn't make sense, look up the original meaning of 'avenue' and find out why we're not the only Avenue Rd in the world and why other places have streets named 'The Avenue', etc.
jen / February 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm
user-pic
I'm not going to tolerate having my street re-named....Avenue Road is perfect as is. Sir John A Macdonald Avenue is WAY too long.
irie mon / February 13, 2014 at 01:20 pm
user-pic
we wan changeup name of street for rob ford. we feelin how bout we make college avenue, "robert crackhead ford road"? college always ram pack up with youths. rob ford he now always sayin how he liked them youths, you know? back in trenchtown we have a road call "doug ford dead end", dis.where the.road no go furthar, it also where nuf dogs and people go do toilet business, ya know. so me say, college is best rename, futire youths need to know toronto we once putted a big battyclot crackhead idut maan in a mayors seat. den we can also change name of toronto to "crazy town".
ted / February 13, 2014 at 01:21 pm
user-pic
CANADA, NO MORE NAMING STUFF AFTER DEAD WHITE GUYS.
E. Toby Coke replying to a comment from ted / February 13, 2014 at 01:48 pm
user-pic
"NO MORE NAMING STUFF AFTER DEAD WHITE GUYS"

Like Terry Fox?
ted replying to a comment from E. Toby Coke / February 13, 2014 at 02:07 pm
user-pic
Hah, yes exactly like Terry Fox - that field is saturated, the history and celebration of white culture in Canada is proliferated enough and widely accepted/acknowledged, we got that covered.
Canada, especially Toronto/the GTA, has many prominent persons of color that have earned the rank of recognition. This is the time to celebrate and solidify these figures, embrace interculturalism in urban environment, not shun or diminish them.
McRib / February 13, 2014 at 02:38 pm
user-pic
I like the name Avenue Road. Its a good name, and it's been its name for fucking long enough that we don't need to change it. If Toronto keeps continually repaving or renaming its history, then we really will be bland.

Name a new subdivision or something after Sir John. Or a ferry.
McRib / February 13, 2014 at 02:41 pm
user-pic
Also, youtube hit show "The Avenue" might have had trouble getting off the ground if it were called "The Sir John A. MacDonald"

please think of Gregory Gorgeous.
canuckone / February 13, 2014 at 03:11 pm
user-pic
Nothing wrong with the names "Avenue Road" and "Union Station"
More important things to be concerned about at City Hall besides renaming streets.
NatS / February 13, 2014 at 03:30 pm
user-pic
Why is Council wasting time on this useless stuff like renaming existing things....they should just name a new/future street after whom ever they chose to! They should also leave Union Station alone.
DundonianTorontonian / February 13, 2014 at 03:31 pm
user-pic
On the 1st of July 1867, a Scotsman became the first Prime Minister of a newly independent country, having voted for independence from the United Kingdom. That man was John A MacDonald, first Prime Minister of Canada. He was later knighted, and Canada did pretty well. It will be a damn shame if a Scotsman can't do the same thing for his own country. Kinda unrelated to the post, but I felt it had to be said.
R-b F--d / February 13, 2014 at 04:21 pm
user-pic
Bumbaclot Blvd.?
Alex replying to a comment from Al / February 13, 2014 at 04:32 pm
user-pic
You have echoed my sentiments perfectly. I was also thinking that if he was *that* important, wouldn't someone have named a street or building after him already? Seemingly, he may have been the Rob Ford of the 1800s. Shall we make a Rob Ford Way as well? LOL
Ana / February 13, 2014 at 04:40 pm
user-pic
Why don't we try to make improvements to the city rather than wasting time on ridiculous things like this. Renaming streets and important landmarks sounds like a mess/hassle. I agree with NatS - It would make sense to build something new in honour or recognition of someone.
michael / February 13, 2014 at 05:05 pm
user-pic
Classic. Politicians decide to re-name a street so they can pat themselves on the back but residents and businesses have to spend money and time changing their addresses. The city has to pay to re-do all the street signs.

Be weary of the councilors who come up with these kinds of "ideas". They have too much time on their hands and should be thumped come election time.
MER1978 / February 13, 2014 at 06:49 pm
user-pic
If we're going to rename Union it should at least have some relation to our transit system...

Burke Station for example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Edward_Viaduct
Chris replying to a comment from RacismETC / February 13, 2014 at 07:25 pm
user-pic
"Our independence from the UK"? You know we remained a Dominion and Macdonald was a fierce Loyalist, right?
Chris / February 13, 2014 at 07:26 pm
user-pic
So is the 401 not "significant", then?
Friar Canuck / February 13, 2014 at 07:40 pm
user-pic
Who taught you people Canadian history? If you think Canada became independent of the United Kingdom on July 1st 1867, you better look up the Statute of Westminster of 1931.
Not My Real Name / February 13, 2014 at 07:44 pm
user-pic
Are all of problems in the city solved and now we have nothing better to do than discussing street and station name changes? The commuting hour is ridiculous, our "city" compared to any other city in the world is a decaying village. We have people who have to choose between paying for rent and eating food every day. There are old people who eat from garbage cans. We have the largest number of homeless people in the streets. We have mentally ill people throughout the city causing problems for other citizens. Our transit system is one of the smallest, and least maintained examples around the world. OOOhhhh.... I know... There is only one solution... lets change the name of a street and everyone will forget all the above. YAY! ... pathetic.
BM / February 13, 2014 at 07:50 pm
user-pic
Oh for Christ sake. Sorry, For Sir John A. Macdonald sake, let it go. Do some real work at city hall. Please. Pretty please.
Holy Thundering Jesus / February 13, 2014 at 08:19 pm
user-pic
call it Crack Row
d / February 13, 2014 at 08:29 pm
user-pic
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Please don't rename Union Station or Avenue Road
Simon / February 13, 2014 at 08:57 pm
user-pic
The man was a drunken racist who took bribes. If you wanna see roads named after John A. Macdonald go to Ottawa or some other place that wouldn't even exist if it weren't for government decrees. It's time Torontonians started taking pride in their history instead of whining about whatever comes next with no thought to what was there before. It's so spineless. Example: none of these anti-condo whiners remember that downtown was mostly parking lots before the condos came, and none of them have the guts to say that the condos themselves are fine, but the people who live in them are scum.
Erin / February 13, 2014 at 10:05 pm
user-pic
Is Highway 401 not enough? Is the Ottawa International Airport not enough? Poor Jacques Cartier. The shared honours don't seem to be enough for J.A. MAC fans.
Henderson / February 13, 2014 at 10:09 pm
user-pic
A road is not enough. Toronto would make itself look good with a Colossus of Macdonald. One foot on Leslie split the other on Ward Island. Think about it.
Michael / February 13, 2014 at 10:56 pm
user-pic
Rather than endure the confusing expensive history destroying farce of changingbthe name of an existing street I could live with the name "McDonald line" if it got us a drl that went the whole way up to the "McDonald Cartier" expressway or whatever the 401 was half named...
History replying to a comment from Al / February 14, 2014 at 08:52 am
user-pic
Yes he was thrown out of office for taking money from railway companies, but then he was voted back in! And served for another decade! Read please. And every politician in the 1800s was racist.
g / February 14, 2014 at 09:58 am
user-pic
In montreal the city decided to rename Parc Avenue after former Quebec Premier Bourassa a few years ago. There was a huge public outcry - i) people did not want to honour a politician, ii) Parc Avenue is a meaningful name since it borders Mount Royal Park, and iii) small businesses complained that it would be very costly for them to change their signs, etc. There was absolutely no support for the change and it never happened.

Avenue Road is a classy name even if it sounds awkward, no need to change it.
CH / February 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm
user-pic
Why are our city councillors so bent on renaming things to commemorate someone? There are better ways to spend that time and the city's money to celebrate a person.
DrBOP / February 15, 2014 at 11:34 am
user-pic
Avenue Road = 4 syllables

J.A.M. Ave = 2 syllables

Just sayin'.
the lemur replying to a comment from justintime / February 19, 2014 at 04:37 pm
user-pic
Sorry, not true. It was never called 'The Avenue'. It was always Avenue Road right from the start.
Rochelle / April 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm
user-pic
Hi there, I enjoy reading througbh your post.
I like to write a little comment tto supportt you.
Tyler Kruspe / December 18, 2014 at 07:24 pm
user-pic
University Avenue should be renamed, his statue already sits at the head of the street in front of Queens Park. Makes the most logical sense!

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal