As with most cities around the world, women are vastly unrepresented in Montreal’s urban landscape. Place your finger on a map of the city and you’re far more likely to land on a street named after a man, than one commemorating an outstanding female. In fact, only 6% of 6,000 place names in Montreal recognize the historical accomplishments of women, while men represent more than 50%.
In an effort to reduce the gender imbalance in its cityscape, the City of Montreal unveiled plans to rename 375 streets, public spaces and parks after prominent women as part of its 375 year anniversary in 2017. This initiative aims to recognize contributions made by women to Montreal’s history, while addressing the lack of diversity in the urban landscape.
To help move the project forward, Montreal created a name bank called Toponym’Elles, where readers can learn about 375 notable females. The public is also invited to submit new names and secondary research to the directory.
On Monday, the city furthered its project by issuing a City Council motion to rename the lot at the corner of Ann and Ottawa streets after its defacto founder and female entrepreneur, Mary Griffin.
Griffin was a successful 18th century businesswoman, who bought the land that now makes up Griffintown from Irish politician Thomas McCord in 1792. The area was, at the time, called Nazareth fief.
Griffin divided the area into different lots in 1804, and held onto its title during a legal battle which lasted almost a decade. McCord eventually bought the land back, but by then the name “Griffintown” had stuck with locals.
“Despite her legal defeat, Mary Griffin has thus symbolically earned her place in Montreal toponymy,” the city of Montreal’s website states.
The new park comes amidst a range of initiatives to create or revitalize green spaces in Montreal, including two new parks in Griffintown and an overhaul of LaFontaine park.
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