Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Changing Names of Famous Toronto Landmarks No Easy Feat

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Changing Names of Famous Toronto Landmarks No Easy Feat

Article excerpt

Changing names of famous landmarks not easy

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TORONTO - Whether it's to raise money or honour remarkable individuals, changing the names of famous landmarks in Toronto is no easy feat.

It will be months before city council decides whether to rename Union Station after Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, but the proposal by Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong has stirred mixed emotions.

After all, this is a city where people continue to refer to iconic properties by their original name. For many, Rogers Centre is still known as SkyDome, nine years after its name change.

Older generations still remember the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, formerly the Hummingbird Centre, as the 1960s O'Keefe Centre, a name kept until 1996.

Phyllis Berck, director of the partnerships office, said the city balances what is commercialized and what is not.

"Sponsorship for commercial benefit is not forever," Berck said, "but honorific naming is permanent."

Toronto city council has agreed to study Minnan-Wong's proposal, consult with the public and release a report in July.

"I think Canadians don't recognize our historical figures as much as we could," Minnan-Wong said. "Macdonald helped found Canada and established the national railway."

But Stephen Young, president of the Toronto Public Space Initiative (TPSI), said the city should consider other venues to honour Macdonald.

"Union Station has history, the name itself has history. I don't think renaming the station is going to achieve much."

Coun. Josh Matlow shares that view, saying some names are not easy to change.

"Highway 401 is already named after him as the Macdonald Cartier Freeway, but it never caught on."

When one thinks of Casa Loma, High Park and Yonge Street, they think of Toronto, Matlow said.

"The names transcend the one destination. They represent Toronto. …

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