Ottawa councillor wants to rename ward named after a British politician with ties to slavery
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa councillor wants to change the name of his Rideau-Goulbourn ward in time for the 2022 municipal election because the town's namesake was a slave owner.
Scott Moffatt has changed the name of his ward's website and Twitter account to "Team Twenty One," and wants to work with the community on a new name for Ward 21 over the next two years.
According to the Goulbourn Historical Society, Goulbourn Township was named after Sir Henry Goulbourn, who was the Undersecretary of State in the British Government and signed the Treaty of Ghent for Britain. In a newsletter to constituents, Moffatt notes Goulbourn was a slave owner.
"Of note, he was never here, and he has no direct story to connect him to us and our communities. I only highlight that because he was also a slave owner. He was an absentee owner of one of the most notorious plantations in Jamaica," writes Moffatt.
"At one time, he owned over 250 slaves. They were treated poorly. He tried to improve their lives, but he stopped short of favouring abolition. Keep in mind that the slave trade had already been abolished by Britain in 1807. In 1826, he lost an election because it became known locally that he was a slave owner."
Moffatt tells Newstalk 580 CFRA he's already received suggestions for a new name, including, "Rideau Carleton," "South Carleton" and "Rideau Jock."
The councillor adds there would be no cost associated with changing the name.
"The history of Goulbourn Township is a strong, positive story. Henry Goulburn’s is not. His story doesn’t change ours and his story doesn’t define the history of our township," writes Moffatt.
"That said, the current ward of Rideau-Goulbourn is about the present and the future. The past is the past and, although the stories need to be told, our future needs to be positive and should not be tied to a negative story. As such, Ward 21 will have a new name come the 2022 election. Over the next two years, we will work together to create that new name."