By Derick Deonarain
Toronto City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is pushing to rename Union Station after Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A MacDonald.
“What better place in terms of recognition of Sir John A. than Union Station, probably the most important railway station in the country,” said Councillor Minnan-Wong according to an article in the Toronto Star.
While the proposed name change will be discussed in future City Hall meetings in the coming months, some Toronto historians are against the idea and the prospective name.
“Macdonald is a very questionable choice because his CPR railway was from Montreal over to Sudbury and then out West. Toronto wasn’t even on the route,” said Edward Levy, international transportation consultant and Toronto transit historian.
“Changing the name of something that’s had that name for [over] 150 years doesn’t make sense. It’s sort of an iconic name for the station and the city,” he added.
The Union Station name, which harkens back to a previous station, built in 1858, is said to reflect the integration of multiple railways coming together.
“It’s still a union station for several different railways like CP, CN, Go and Via Rail,” Levy explained.
In the 156 years of Union Station’s existence, the building has served as a centrsl commuting location that has seen Canadians off to wars and brought many immigrants to the city of Toronto.
In 1975 Union Station was classified as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Derek Boles, a member of the Toronto Railway Historical Association, said that the kind of history behind the station should be kept in tact.
“Let us not try and erase one part of Toronto’s history in order to substitute it with another,” Boles said.
While Toronto transit historians do not support the idea of a name change, Boles explained an alternative to Councillor Minnan-Wong’s idea that would incorporate the 2015 redesign of Union Station.
“It would be far more appropriate for people to enjoy this new Sir John A. Macdonald Plaza and contemplate the Toronto connection with Canada’s first prime minister than it would be to rename a facility that only opened 36 years after his death,” he said.
Humber alumni and urban planner Robert Mentis, echoed the sentiments of Boles, and said when Union Station showcases their new upgrades in 2015 it’d be better to commemorate Sir John A MacDonald’s name with a plaque or plaza name.
“I rather they keep the name of Union Station than change it. It’s rather fitting to its history and tradition.”