Montreal seeks to name landmarks after influential women

From Boulevard Rene-Levesque to Boulevard Henri Bourassa, many of Montreal's most famous streets have one thing in common: they're named after influential men.

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But as the city gears up for its 375th anniversary, it's looking to honour prominent women as well.

Currently, only six per cent of Montreal landmarks are named after women, while more than 50 per cent are named after men. In 2014, when Montreal renamed 17 landmarks, only three were named after women.

To address the issue, the city has launched a public collection of names and biographies of influential women, and it's asking residents to submit their own suggestions for who should be included on the list.

The goal of the project, which is called "Toponym'Elles," is to collect the names of 375 notable women before the city celebrates its 375th anniversary in 2017.

"The fact (is) that history has been written mostly by men. At this point we have to come up with new ideas," Montreal city councillor Valerie Plante told CTV Montreal.

The project organizers say there are many unnamed parks and streets in the city, so honouring women won't necessarily mean replacing already-existing names.

One barrier, however, is a Montreal rule that landmarks can only be named after people who have died.

"The first rule usually is, you have to wait until the person is dead," Plante said. "And so, I think more and more in the future we're going to have much more women from the scientific areas, from business, politics, from all kinds of areas. But it is a challenge right now."

To remedy this, some women are pushing for the city to allow streets to be named after famous women who are still alive.

"Your pool is going to be a lot broader and deeper if you open that up," Kimberley Manning , a Concordia political science professor, said.

To submit names and biographies to "Toponym'Elles," visit the project's website.

With files from CTV Montreal


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