dundas street

Toronto recommends full renaming of Dundas Street

After months of consideration, the City of Toronto is officially recommending that Dundas Street, whose namesake is a historical figure with ties to slavery, be completely renamed.

Mayor John Tory released a statement on the matter on Monday morning, revealing that both he and the City Manager are both on board to begin what will inevitably be a slow, sensitive and unfortunately expensive process in response to a 14,000-strong petition to finally omit Henry Dundas and his legacy from our city infrastructure.

Dundas was, as activists note, an 18th-century Scottish politician who had a hand in delaying the abolition of slavery in the British Empire for years.

He is one of just countless extremely problematic figureheads in world history that people have demanded we stop honouring through things such as statues, public spaces, and street and establishment names.

Tory also aptly noted today that Dundas "had virtually no connection to Toronto," begging the question of why such a key thoroughfare ended up bearing his name in the first place given how obsolete he was to the city but how instrumental he was in the perpetuation of slavery and racism.

"This is a moment in time when it is important to make a statement to the entire community about including those who have been marginalized and recognizing the significant effect past history can have on present day lives," the mayor continued, vowing to improve efforts to confront anti-Black racism and advance truth and reconciliation.

The decision to fully rename the street and all of its associations was one of four plans of action that were proposed last year when calls to do something about the Dundas moniker became too loud for officials to ignore.

It is also the most significant and seemingly widely suppored of the four options, and will mean that more than 730 street signs, two subway stations, three parks, a public library, 625 Bike Share stations and Green P lots, a police division, highway signage, and more will be renamed to the tune of somewhere between $5.1 and $6.3 million.

A total of 60 businesses along the roadway also have "Dundas" as part of their name. The city has proposed that a transition plan be drawn up to help such establishments, along with BIAs and residents, to help prepare for and navigate the major change.

The fun part of the task will be choosing what the new name replacing Dundas will be, and so far, people have come up with some pretty fantastic suggestions that range from the fitting Mary Ann Shadd Way to the hilarious Dondas Street.

Lead photo by

Becky Robertson

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