26 August 2017 0 Comments Posted By : Administrator

Everything is offensive: Here are Canada’s other politically incorrect place names

Last week, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario called on all school districts to strip the name of Sir John A. Macdonald from all Ontario public schools, reasoning that he was the “architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.” 

They’re not wrong that Macdonald has a pretty dismal record on Indigenous relations, but if Canada is going to be pulling down every name associated with some uncomfortable aspect of history, the purge has only just begun. It turns out that, when judged through the prism of our enlightened era, almost everybody from Canada’s past — from famed reformers to Indigenous icons to notable women — comes off as an extremist maniac. 

McGill University (Montreal, Que.)
James McGill was a particularly successful fur trader who founded the university that now hosts a charming statue of him nears its front gates (as well as his grave). McGill also owned six African slaves. Although Canada would ultimately become the first North American jurisdiction to peacefully outlaw slavery, in McGill’s era enslaved black house servants were a common status symbol among Montreal’s merchant elite. Another slave owner? The namesake of Toronto’s Jarvis Street.

British Columbia
One of Canada’s most left-leaning provinces also has its most blatantly colonial name. The “Columbia” part is derived from Christopher Columbus, who had barely finished discovering the New World before he started kidnapping Indigenous Cubans. The British part, meanwhile, is a vestige of the province’s days as a far-flung British colony. The B.C. flag even includes a giant sun as a nod to the maxim that the sun never sets on the British Empire.

Brantford, Ont.
Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, the namesake of Brantford and Brant County, usually gets cited on lists of “notable Indigenous Canadians.” He’s most remembered for siding with the British during the American Revolutionary War, but his legacy is still controversial among many Mohawk. Brant owned slaves, he murdered his son and he was accused of selling out his own people for personal gain.


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