The debate over naming public places after controversial leaders has come to Canada after a teachers' union called for taking Sir John A. Macdonald's name off schools.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario passed a motion at its annual meeting in August calling on all school boards in the province to rename schools named after Canada's first prime minister. This was due to Macdonald's central role in creating the Indian Act and the system of residential schools, which saw about 150,000 Indigenous children removed from their families and educated in church-run institutions where physical, sexual, and emotional abuse was common. An estimated 6,000 children died while at these schools.
There are already campaigns underway to rename schools and to remove statues dedicated to Macdonald, whose face is also on the $10 bill. Meanwhile, others have argued that the campaign is an ill-advised attempt to rewrite history, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government has no plans to remove the former prime minister's name from any federal buildings.
The debate over Macdonald's legacy, and whether he deserves any public honours, mirrors one in the US, in which cities across the country are weighing whether to remove monuments for Confederate leaders and soldiers. But while there are hundreds of such monuments in the US, there are relatively few places named after Macdonald in Canada — making the task much easier, should people choose to take up the ETFO's call.
According to a BuzzFeed Canada analysis, there are only 13 public schools across Canada named after Sir John A. Macdonald. The majority are located in Ontario, with 9 schools bearing only the former prime minister's name and a tenth in Sudbury named after both Macdonald and his political partner George-Étienne Cartier. The remaining three schools are located in Quebec, Alberta, and Nova Scotia. That number is based in lists of public schools maintained by different provincial and territorial governments.
- Sir John A Macdonald Secondary School in Waterloo, Ontario.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario.
- Sir John A Macdonald Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario.
- École secondaire Macdonald-Cartier in Sudbury, Ontario.
- École Sir John A Macdonald Public School in Kingston, Ontario.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Public School In London, Ontario.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Public School in Belleville, Ontario.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Public School in Pickering, Ontario.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Public School in Markham, Ontario.
- Sir John A. Macdonald Public School in Brampton, Ontario.
- Laurier Macdonald High School in Montreal, Quebec.
- Sir John A Macdonald School in Calgary, Alberta.
- Sir John A. Macdonald High School on Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia.
Tallying the buildings, monuments, and other public places named for Macdonald is slightly more difficult, but there are likely not more than several dozen across the country. Below is an attempt to catalogue and map as many as possible.
Anything missing? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to help us update the list.
There are 13 public schools named after Macdonald. An earlier version of this post omitted Laurier Macdonald High School in Montreal.