Russell Township has not changed its name, but it has changed who it is named after.
Colonial leader Peter Russell was the original namesake of the township more than 200 years ago. However, following the discovery that Peter Russell was a slave owner who delayed efforts to abolish slavery in the British Empire, township council approved a motion in July 2020 to find a new Russell to be the municipality’s namesake. On May 2, council approved new Russell namesakes for the township.
“We have officially removed Peter Russell as the honour of our namesake,” said Mayor Pierre Leroux in a statement he issued on May 3.
“Council chose that moving forward, rather than honouring one individual, the township’s name honours all ‘Russells’ such as Russell Phair, Keith Russell, and others who would have helped develop our community into the jewel we love today,” Leroux stated.
The mayor emphasized the decision is not an attempt to erase the township’s history.
“We acknowledge it and publicly state we are striving to do better,” Leroux remarked.
Leroux also thanked the Namesake Rededication Committee and the community for their involvement in this. He also looks forward to continued engagement through the Community Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.