Let's change the name of Dunsmuir Street to Milton Wong Boulevard

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      In Halifax, there was intense public debate recently over erasing the name "Cornwallis" from a local school. That's because former Nova Scotia governor Edward Cornwallis authorized the killing of Mi'kmaq Indians in the 18th century.

      In the eyes of his critics, Cornwallis was guilty of genocide. And you don't name schools after perpetrators of this crime.

      B.C.'s 14th premier, James Dunsmuir, has never been accused of genocide. But he was a coal baron from 1876 to 1910 who ruthlessly busted strikes at his operations on Vancouver Island.

      He opposed restrictions on Chinese immigration for many years, because this kept down the cost of labour. But he called for a higher head tax in 1900, according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

      As lieutenant-governor from 1906 to 1909, he tried to preserve provincial legislation to curtail Asian immigration, even though this is an area of federal jurisdiction.

      There are many things in this province named after Dunsmuir, even though he and his father Robert were, at times, brutal employers.

      I've often wondered why in downtown Vancouver, we continue to honour Dunsmuir by naming a major thoroughfare after him.

      The city and province have done a woeful job of naming Vancouver streets, parks, and schools after people of colour who have helped build our province. It sends the wrong signals to kids and to society as a whole.

      It's about time this changed.

      Financier Milton Wong is widely acknowledged as someone who has given a great deal to this city and helped promote cultural harmony and education in numerous ways. He has done this quietly and with dignity, never seeking the spotlight for himself.

      I suggest that he is a much worthier figure to have a street in downtown Vancouver named after him than James Dunsmuir.

      This is why I'm proposing that we dump the name "Dunsmuir Street" and replace it with "Milton Wong Boulevard". It's appropriate given that this road runs from Chinatown to Vancouver's financial district, mirroring the path of Wong's life.

      Many American cities created a "Martin Luther King Boulevard" to honour one of their greatest opponents of racial discrimination. We could easily afford the same courtesy to Wong, who has helped make Vancouver a beacon of open-minded thinking on this issue.

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.



      Standing Water BA LLD MBA BBQ WTF

      Jul 21, 2011 at 11:30pm

      No thank you.
      And invalidate my map collection?
      They already did that once when they renamed Granville to THE CITY OF VANCOUVER.


      Jul 22, 2011 at 12:03am

      How about no more "boulevard's". It just sounds damnably pretentious.


      Jul 22, 2011 at 6:57am

      As a supporter of Labour I suggest we change the name as well. To what, it doesn't matter. Dunsmuir doesn't deserve recognition for union busting and head taxes.

      james green

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:38am

      Mentioning Wong in the same breath as King is ridiculous.
      It is like comparing the space program to skateboarding down Cambie.

      Marlene Campbell

      Jul 22, 2011 at 10:02am

      Milton Wong is an amazing man. He has done more good than you would know. If everyone with money and means were like him, it would be a better world.


      Jul 22, 2011 at 10:23am

      How about we quite changing little things which are of no consequence except to cost tax payers more money to change signs and maps etc. I,m sure there's some sort of contract in place for that. Just like translink & ICBC spending millions to advertise themselves. If your a monopoly there's no one else to go to duhh !!!


      Jul 22, 2011 at 10:35am

      and while we're at it, let's change the Railway Club on Dunsmuir to the Exploited Chinese Labour Memorial Hall.


      Jul 22, 2011 at 1:52pm

      I say we change the street to "Wong Way."

      Communist China

      Jul 22, 2011 at 2:54pm

      The problem is most ethnic Han are Communist and Communist China sympathizers.

      Most business people are profit first and will support any totalitarian regime as long as it's "good" for business.

      Stop naming Places & Monuments with names of people who are all flawed, choose other names maybe historical even animals would be better than any of these Jokers.

      You could re-name Vancouver Communist Center given the overwhelming Communist Han immigration over the last 10-15 years.


      Jul 22, 2011 at 3:57pm

      Given Dunsmuir is most noted for his brutal workplace practices, maybe we could name the street after a far-too unrecognized victim of those types of attitudes, Ginger Goodwin. He was shot and killed by police during a strike on Vancouver Island, and his death spurred on the formation of the Ginger Group in parliament, which was followed by the CCF and NDP, having a major impact on Canadian politics.