The Most Problematic Street Names In Montreal
Rue Amherst was not the only one.
Today, the City of Montreal renamed a controversial street to Rue Atateken. "Atateken" is the Mohawk word meaning fraternity and peace. Montreal has long had a checkered relationship with more than a few street names.
While renaming streets doesn't repair centuries of persecution and racism, many say that it's a good first step towards strengthening relations with Indigenous communities.
We did some digging at MTLBlog and in light of this recent news, we've found the most problematic street names in Montreal. Maybe the following streets should be next on mayor Valérie Plante's renaming list!
Finally changed today after many long years, the former Rue Amherst in Montreal's Gay Village was named after Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron of Amherst.
As the commander-in-chief of North America between 1758 and 1763, Amherest reportedly committed a number of atrocities in his conflicts with indigenous groups. Most notorious of his crimes against humanity was the "gifting" of smallpox blankets to many tribes in the area.
Where do we even begin with Christopher Columbus?
We all know him as the "founder" of North America even though a group of Vikings were here almost 400 years before him — and millions of Indigenous people were here millenia before that. Let's not forget that his discoveries directly led to the systematic genocide of many Indigenous groups in the continent.
Scholars estimate that he captured over 5,000 Native American slaves to send to Europe. His troops were directly responsible for the death of over 300,000 native Haitians.
If the city is looking to change a street name right now, this should be the next one.
Boulevard de Maisonneuve
Paul de Chomedy, Sieur de Maisonneuve was one of the founding fathers of Montreal and oversaw the development of the first-ever settlements.
At first, his relations with the Natives were pleasant at first but he would engage in many violent acts of aggression as governor of Montreal.
Wilfred Laurier was the 7th Prime Minister of Canada and is regarded as one of the greatest in history. Laurier was Canada's first French-speaking Prime Minister.
One of Laurier's most problematic moments as Canada's Prime Minister was when he signed off on the Chinese Head Tax, which charged Chinese immigrants $200 dollars to enter the country to discourage them from living in Canada.
Jean Talon is also considered one of the founding fathers of Montreal. In fact, his efforts helped lift the settlement from a struggling fur trading outpost to a thriving agricultural and shipbuilding town.
With that, however, Talon assisted in the seizure of countless acres of Indigenous land and forcefully removed Iroquois tribes from around the island.
Also, he brought the "Filles du Roi" to the colony. If you remember from history class, the Filles du Roi were approximately 800 women between the ages of 12 to 25 that were brought to New France to marry and bear the children of male settlers.
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville was the renowned explorer, trader, solider, and knight of the French Legion. Born in Montreal, d'Iberville was among the first to explore Louisiana.
His crimes weren't against Indigenous Peoples...for the most part. D'Iberville was a fierce soldier and eventual commander of New France forces that were responsible for the Schenectady Massacre, which laid waste to an entire colony in upstate New York.
Not only is the road problematic, but the entire university! Scottish businessman James McGill was one of Montreal's wealthiest men who started the North West Company — the biggest fur trading competitor to the HBC.
His namesake is super problematic though because he was a notorious slave-owner.
Adam Dollard des Ormeaux is an iconic figure in Canadian history due to his apparent "heroic" efforts against Iroquois tribes in Upper Canada.
The guy, who has a whole neighbourhood named after him, decided that it would be a good idea to paddle up the Ottawa River with 17 inexperienced men to attack the Iroquois.
According to legend, Dollard des Ormeaux wanted to steal Iroquois fur. Also, that he was commissioned by de Maisonneuve to halt an apparent Iroquois incursion into Montreal. No one really knows for sure.
Point is, he and his men were quickly set upon by some 400 Iroquois and were dispatched without much issue. For some reason, he's regarded as a hero.