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Proposed renaming of Dundas Street

W. K. Lis

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From link.

Name of Toronto


The name of Toronto has a history distinct from that of the city itself. Originally, the term "Taronto" referred to a channel of water between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching on maps as early as 1675 but in time the name passed southward, and was eventually applied to a new fort at the mouth of the Humber River. Fort Toronto was the first settlement in the area, and lent its name to what became the city of Toronto.
John Graves Simcoe identified the area as a strategic location to base a new capital for Upper Canada, believing Newark to be susceptible to American invasion. A garrison was established at Garrison Creek, on the western entrance to the docks of Toronto Harbour, in 1793; this later became Fort York. The settlement it defended was renamed York on August 26, 1793, as Simcoe favoured English names over those of First Nations languages, in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York. Residents petitioned to change the name back to Toronto, and in 1834 the city was incorporated with its original name. The name York lived on through the name of York County (which was later split into Metropolitan Toronto and York Region), and continues to live on through the names of several districts within the city, including Yorkville, East York, and North York, the latter two suburbs that were formally amalgamated into the "megacity" of Toronto on January 1, 1998.
 

jje1000

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Compared to the sources cited by the reddit poster?! But it's also not a scholarly article. It is however, by a history professor with a specialty in African slavery. Unless said reddit poster comes out with something equally credible, and goes beyond simply paraphrasing Wikipedia, I think we can defer to authority here.


Nothing that you read, apparently:

"Meanwhile, in Grenada, Dundas’s forces brutally suppressed an abolitionist uprising that lasted for eighteen months from 1795-96, led by enslaved people and a free man of colour named Julien Fédon."

"Abolitionists certainly did not see Dundas as one of them; in 1806 abolitionist Charles James Fox described Dundas as the man “who took a lead in constantly opposing our attempts at a total and immediate abolition” even though he knew the trade “to be adverse to policy, humanity, and justice.”
Not a single cited source for either, which is why I hold them in identical regard- and yet Dundas' voting record and public speeches speak for themselves. Personally, I don't care for her credentials, as it's a poor showing for a university professor to not cite sources for evidence.

For the first- again- guilt by association. Her circular reasoning is that Slavery in Grenada causes uprising against British government > Dundas' forces put revolt down > As such, concludes that Dundas was anti-abolitionist. But was he, or was he responding generally to a threat to British power against the background of the American Revolutionary war? What the heck was he supposed to do as the Secretary of War?

Second quote- no sources found for it, everything led back to this article by this professor. And of course, a counterpoint can be found below in regards to this point.


How about a more informative and 'evolved' study with actual citations?
Did Henry Dundas intend to obstruct legislation for abolition of the slave trade?

The evidence that constitutes proof regarding Dundas’s motives includes the following:

1) His passionate representation of Joseph Knight, resulting in a declaration by Scotland’s highest court that no person could be a slave on Scottish soil;

2) His first public speech on the abolition of the slave trade, in which he revealed a multi-faceted plan for the end to slavery itself, including by way of the eradication of hereditary slavery;

3) His contemporaneous oversight of John Graves Simcoe’s campaign to bring abolition of slavery to Upper Canada, primarily by way of the eradication of hereditary slavery;

4) His consistent opposition to the slave trade in all of his public speeches throughout the 1790s;

5) His refusal to vote against abolition measures, even when he disagreed with the specific strategies for abolition;

6) The reasonable need to prioritize national security in the middle of a war, a goal of such over-riding importance that it cannot be taken to negate his support for abolition;

7) His respect for the rights of Africans, as shown by his treatment of Black Loyalists;

8) His private assistance to abolitionists, to whom he provided advice behind closed doors;

9) His fury when, in 1800, WI planters backed out of a tentative agreement to suspend the slave trade for five years; 38

10) His belief, held on reasonable grounds, that the West Indian colonies had sufficient constitutional autonomy to defeat British abolition laws;

11) His public denunciations of the obstructive tactics of the WI interests;

12) He belief, held on reasonable grounds, that slave traders would circumvent any law for immediate abolition of the slave trade;

13) His duty to ensure that WI planters did not develop a revolutionary spirit – a tangible risk given the revolutionary spirit that had overtaken France, and that had recently led to British losses in the American Revolution;

14) His support for minority rights throughout his public career, including the rights of Catholics, indigenous people in Canada, and francophones in Canada;

15) His long experience as a successful politician who knew how to get things done, and reasonableness of his belief that abolition was more achievable if the opposing sides could be brought together to support legislation for a gradual process.

Such evidence supports the conclusion that Henry Dundas genuinely supported gradual abolition of slavery and the slave trade. It demonstrates that when he argued that gradual abolition was the only effective method to pursue this end, he genuinely believed that to be the case.
The evidence that supports the opposite view falls into four broad categories:

i. Dundas was on friendly terms with those who represented West Indian interests, from which one might infer that he was also advancing their interests,

ii. he wrote a letter in 1796, in which he indicated an intention to oppose certain proposals for abolition,

iii. Wilberforce (and others) blamed Dundas for the failure of their proposals to win the support of both houses of Parliament,

iv. Dundas was the War Secretary during the war with France, during which time British forces were concentrated on maintaining and expanding British control of the West Indies and brutally suppressed uprisings among the Black populations of the West Indian islands

The first two factors are addressed elsewhere in this paper. However, with regard to the first we also note that while those with vested interests in the West Indies appear to have been on good terms with Dundas, this is consistent with the respectful dialogue and consultation that that a secretary of state ought to have with power brokers in all territories of the empire. It was Dundas’s responsibility to ensure that revolutionary spirit did not take hold among the leaders of 39 the West Indian colonies, some of whom were known to favour independence from Britain. It may be noted that Dundas also cultivated respectful dialogue with the abolitionists.

Regarding the third category, the fact that Wilberforce and other militant abolitionists lashed out at Dundas from time-to-time reflects little more than their frustration that he refused to support an approach that he saw as ineffective and misguided. To them, that made him an opponent. Their personal feelings, however, are not evidence. Moreover, it is likely that they knew that there was a political advantage to treating Dundas as a foe. He was a prominent and controversial figure, whose approach to seditionists had already angered a significant sector of the British public. Dundas made a convenient scape goat, and it was more convenient to blame him for their failed initiatives than to consider the possibility that a policy of gradual abolition was more likely to succeed.

As for the fourth category concerning military action in the West Indies, it is apparent that critics have oversimplified the complexities of mutual aggression in a region where the British and French both had much to gain and much to lose. Britain’s economy was heavily dependent on the West Indies. It strains credulity to suggest that Dundas had a specific policy during the war of preserving a slave-based economy because he supported slavery, a view endorsed by certain academics.137 Examining Britain’s war efforts through the lens of abolition is an unreliable tool for discerning Dundas’s intentions, especially when Prime Minister William Pitt, a committed abolitionist, gave his complete support to Dundas’s war efforts.

Blaming Dundas for Britain’s actions in the West Indies, while declining to view William Pitt at least as harshly, is also illogical. No one doubts that William Churchill led Britain through World War II. Similarly, the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars were Pitt’s wars. Dundas was his War Secretary.

While there are arguments on both sides, the preponderance of evidence strongly supports the view that Dundas genuinely supported abolition of the slave trade.
A pragmatic man in all his political endeavours, Dundas also took a pragmatic approach to abolishing the slave trade. This appears to have resulted in his record on abolition being misunderstood, and therefore misrepresented.


Every time Dundas spoke publicly about slavery he emphasized his abhorrence of it.
Even when he disagreed with William Wilberforce, he spoke his mind but refused to vote against any proposals for the abolition of human trafficking. Dundas was resolute in his refusal to stand with the slave traders, even when he disagreed with the strategies of the abolitionists.

When Dundas proposed adding the word “gradually” to Wilberforce’s motion in 1792, and persuaded wavering MPs to support it, he achieved something remarkable. He united a decisive majority in the Commons behind a plan to abolish the Atlantic slave trade by the end of the decade.
When Wilberforce and his supporters later gutted his plan, they destroyed a critical opportunity to win the support of the House of Lords. The failure of their strategy is theirs alone.

Seems like the nuances and pragmatism in society and politics are lost to history, and everyone who wasn't fr*cking John Brown supported slavery. History is flattened, and everything ends up being viewed from a Manichean lens of good and evil- and worse off- judged solely on our current societal values.
 
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UrbanFervour

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I didn't know every change in the city required quorum of its citizens.

You called it an issue that came "democratically" to the fore. This is not the case. The issue was taken up by a committee of "City staff" (i.e. unelected bureaucrats) after a petition signed by 14,000 people made it to council.

The argument is that we are a diverse city and this name change of one of our major arteries reflects our collective values. SO - let's put it to the test - make this an election issue, let people understand the issues & have the diverse people of Toronto vote on it (and a replacement name, while were at it)?
 

W. K. Lis

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Best proposal yet for renaming "Dundas Street". Name it "Highway #5"! Yeah, I know Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue had first dibs (past tense), but the province downloaded highways to the cities to "save" the province money, so Toronto has first dibs today.

Rename the Dundas West Station to "Vincent Station", the original proposal station name.
 

jje1000

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You called it an issue that came "democratically" to the fore. This is not the case. The issue was taken up by a committee of "City staff" (i.e. unelected bureaucrats) after a petition signed by 14,000 people made it to council.

The argument is that we are a diverse city and this name change of one of our major arteries reflects our collective values. SO - let's put it to the test - make this an election issue, let people understand the issues & have the diverse people of Toronto vote on it (and a replacement name, while were at it)?
If we are judging 'democracy' by that case, we should note that public neighbourhood meetings commandeered by the NIMBY groups should be also considered 'democractic' and the 'voice of the majority'.

And I agree with your later point. This is a street that every citizen in Toronto collectively owns- put it up to an election issue, with a question the bottom of the ballot "Do you support the renaming of Dundas Street? Fill in the circle beside Y/N."
 

zang

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How about a more informative and 'evolved' study with actual citations?

…from the "Henry Dundas Committee for Public Education on Historic Scotland", an organization comprised of a small handful of members with the last name Dundas.
 

jje1000

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…from the "Henry Dundas Committee for Public Education on Historic Scotland", an organization comprised of a small handful of members with the last name Dundas.
And yet it still presents its citations and sources based on primary information.
 

zang

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Just like the prior, thinly-veiled opinion piece.
Okay, again, that was a piece written by an actual history professor, but if it's missing citation, it doesn't apparently matter what one's credentials are (regardless of whether it's actually what that person's specialty is).

Howabout a paper from The Scottish Historical Review (with citations) from Research Associate in History at the U of Glasgow, Dr. Stephen Mullen? A Scottish history professor should hold more weight than Jenny Dundas, no? Published in an actual peer-reviewed historical journal?


"Gradual abolition was not an executive decision: it was the collective will of the British Parliament, whilst it was merchants who trafficked African people. However, that should not detract from Dundas’ significant, individual role in the House of Commons. Without his practical opposition, immediate abolition could have passed earlier."
 
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slickpete83

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💡the money they going to waste on renaming Dundas street, they could built so many homes for homeless

next year let's rename Toronto ,Etobicoke, St. Patrick Station, what else ........... 🤣😂

meanwhile in Asia , they are building highspeed trains , modern infrastructure etc... , we are too busy renaming everything lol...
 
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slickpete83

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I only agree with selling name rights to corporations if they retain some of the original station name.

For instance, Burger King Station or Mr. Christie Cookies Station.
great idea 🤣 😂 let's see..

Bathurst Bed Bath & Beyond station
Fairmont Royal York Hotel station
Old Mill General Mills station
Keele & Peele station
Acrombie and Finch station
Dufferin Construction company station
Ozzy Ossington Osbourne station
St. George Foreman Grill Station
Woodbine Racetrack station
Victoria Secret Park station
The Bay station
Dupont chemical company station
The Wilson Sporting Goods station
Pioneer Gas station
 
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picard102

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If we are judging 'democracy' by that case, we should note that public neighbourhood meetings commandeered by the NIMBY groups should be also considered 'democractic' and the 'voice of the majority'.

No, because to their point, it's a small subsection of the neighbourhood.
 

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