This Canadian City Is Removing Statues Of Canada's Racist First Prime Minister, Is Montreal Next?

Some groups have already called for its removal.
Senior Editor
This Canadian City Is Removing Statues Of Canada's Racist First Prime Minister, Is Montreal Next?

Last year, a movement to remove public monuments to racist historical figures swept the United States.

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Across the country, public outry led officials to take down statues and plaques in public spaces and give them a new home in history museums. While in the open such statues reinforced white supremacy, their placement in historical museums allows visitors to view them in historical context. 

Often, public monuments failed to mention some of those figures' troubling histories.

Canada has had to come to terms with its own racist statue problem, as well. In Montreal, alone, there are several controversial monuments that celebrate problematic figures. Some, inlcuding two statues of Queen Victoria, have also been vandalized with red paint.

Now it seems this issue has come to a tipping point. Earlier this week, the Bank of Montreal removed its plaque commemorating the killing of several indigenous people on the island.

And today, the city of Victoria, British Columbia decided to remove a statue of Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.

Long celebrated as a symbol of Canadian confederation, Macdonald also championed a policy of ethnic cleaning against indigenous people. He also oversaw the founding of the first residential schools.

This decision by officials in Victoria might provide the impetus necessary for Montreal to remove its own statue of the first prime minister, which is located in Place du Canada.

That statue has also been the target of vandalism, most recently in November during a massive anti-racism protest downtown.

Maybe Montreal will be the first major city to remove and recontextualize its monument to Macdonald. It seems the city is the most likely among other in Canada to do so given the already vocal opposition to the statue from both anti-racist activists and, almost definitely, nationalists in Quebec.

What do you think?


Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas is MTL Blog's Senior Editor. He lives in Saint-Henri and loves it so much that he named his cat after it. On weekdays, he's publishing stories, editing and helping to manage MTL Blog's team of amazing writers. His beats include the STM, provincial and municipal politics and Céline Dion. On weekends, you might run into him brunching at Greenspot, walking along the Lachine Canal or walking Henri the cat in Parc Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier.