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Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville, July 15, 1795. Library and Archives Canada, 1936-083 PIC, copyright expired.

Dundas dilemma having minimal effect in Eastern Ontario

Two mayors and a warden do not seem convinced that the meaning of the “D” in SD & G will be changing.

Dundas County, part of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SD & G) was named in 1792 after Henry Dundas, the First Viscount Melville (1742-1811).  Dundas was from Scotland and served in various cabinet positions, including Home Secretary and Secretary of War.  Nicknamed “the great tyrant,” one of Dundas’ dubious political accomplishments was delaying the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire by 15 years.  It was originally to end in 1792, but Dundas staved it off until 1807.  The ownership of slaves in the British Empire was abolished in 1834.

In 1808, Dundas was the last person to be impeached in Britain for the misuse of public funds.  He was acquitted, but it ended his political career.

In addition to Dundas County, Dundas Street, an early settlement, military, and post road, was named after Henry Dundas.  It ended up forming much of the route of present-day Highways 2 and 5 across Ontario.  There is a Dundas Street in at least seven Ontario cities and towns through which that early road passed.  There is also a community named Dundas near Hamilton.

Toronto Mayor John Tory recently said he was open to reconsidering the name of one of that city’s major streets.

North Dundas Township Mayor Tony Fraser said he has only received one comment about the questionable origins of the municipality’s namesake but more about how the name should stay as is.    “I have received many comments about how proud people are that they live in North Dundas and feel that a name change is unnecessary and unwarranted,” said Fraser.

Municipality of South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds said he has heard “rumblings” on Facebook of suggestions the name should be changed but has not seen them himself because he does not use Facebook.  Byvelds said he has not heard any suggestions from council either.

Both North and South Dundas were formed in 1998 because of municipal amalgamation, long after Henry Dundas was gone.

SD & G Warden Frank Prevost of South Glengarry said he has not had any requests that the counties consider changing the meaning of the “D.”

 

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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