Here are all the places in Ontario named after Egerton Ryerson. Will they change their name?
Protesters pulled down the statue of Egerton Ryerson at Ryerson University, in Toronto on Sunday, June 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
TORONTO -- The name Ryerson is connected to one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history and yet for dozens of years, it’s been used to title many of Ontario’s important landmarks and institutions.
Egerton Ryerson was an architect of Canada's residential school system, which separated more than 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and inflicted grave human rights abuses.
This past summer, unmarked gravesites containing the remains of hundreds of people, believed to be mainly Indigenous children, were found at several former residential school sites across Canada. The search is ongoing to locate more of the mass gravesites.
As the leaders of institutions and municipalities in Ontario start to reflect on their country’s horrible past, some have decided to officially part with their namesake.
CTV News Toronto has compiled a list of several places in Ontario named after Egerton Ryerson, and contacted each one to learn if they had plans to make a switch.
Here’s what we found:
Ryerson Elementary School – Hamilton, Ont.
- In June, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board voted to create an Indigenous-led process to review and rename Ryerson Elementary School.
Ryerson University – Toronto, Ont.
- In late August, the university announced that it accepted a recommendation to begin a renaming process. The decision came after growing calls demanded the institution examine the legacy of Egerton Ryerson.
Ryerson United Church – Hamilton, Ont.
- The Ryerson United Church says that its board has been meeting and exploring options about the naming of the church given their namesake’s “association to Canada's horrific residential school system.”
Ryerson Camp – Vittoria, Ont.
- CTV News Toronto contacted the camp last week, but has not yet heard a response.
Ryerson Public School – London, Ont.
- In late June, the Thames Valley District School Board announced that its trustees unanimously supported changing the school’s name and supported a review of all schools named after individuals.
Ryerson Park – Burlington, Ont.
- In late August, the City of Burlington said it’s looking to rename the park due to its connection to the residential school system and are asking residents to suggest new names.
Ryerson Heights Elementary School – Brantford, Ont.
- In late June, Grand Erie District School Board said its trustees approved requests to rename the school. The board will form a committee during the school year to examine options for names and make a proposal.
Ryerson Community Park – Toronto, Ont.
- The City of Toronto said staff are currently developing a new framework to guide how the city commemorates public figures. The city said its staff are aware of at least 60 names that may require review in the future, including assets named for Egerton Ryerson.
Ryerson Avenue – Ottawa, Ont.
- The City of Ottawa said it has not received a request or application to rename Ryerson Avenue. The city added that Ryerson Avenue has had the name for “more than five decades and the city has reviewed and determined that it has no records to indicate that the avenue was commemoratively named or named after a particular person.”
Ryerson Community School – Toronto, Ont.
- The Toronto District School Board said it approved a motion in April that will lead to a citywide review of all school names with the help of experts, students, educators and people involved in anti-racism work.
Ryerson Tennis Club – Ottawa, Ont.
- CTV News Toronto contacted the club last week, but has not yet heard a response.
Ryerson United Church – Ancaster, Ont.
- The church said it’s considering changing its name due to its association with the residential school system and added that its council is working on plans to address the issue.
Ryerson Park – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
- A spokesperson for the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday that they are waiting on updated information and working on a response.