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Saturday, June 10 • 10:10am - 10:30am
Walking The Twenty-Three Kilometre Monument: Mapping Dundas Street, Colonial Power and Contemporary Resistance in Toronto

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During the summer of 2021, Toronto City Council voted to rename Dundas Street, the city’s longest east-west thoroughfare. The decision was made, in part, in response to a 2020 petition — signed by nearly 15,000 people — that highlighted the role of the street’s namesake, eighteenth-century Scottish politician Henry Dundas, in obstructing the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

The successful campaign to rename Dundas Street represents one of the most high-profile discussions of public memory in Canada over the last few years. It resulted not only in the City Council’s decision to rename the street, but also in the development of a new commemorative framework for Canada’s largest city. The framework was officially adopted in the summer of 2022.

In this presentation, Andrew Lochhead, artist, PhD student, and author of the petition which began the renaming campaign, invites audience members to embark on a journey with him as he discusses the history of the effort to find a new appelation for this historic roadway. This "tour" includes images from his photo-documentary walking project Twenty-Three Kilometres, a series of three walks that combined to span the length of Dundas Street and that occurred at the height of the municipal renaming debate.

Taking inspiration from the late Haitain anthropologist Michel Rolphe Trouillot’s suggestion that “the ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; its ultimate challenge the exposure of its roots,” Lochhead uses the images contained in Twenty-Three Kilometres to show how this power manifests and replicates itself through formal and vernacular infrastructure such as street signs, business names, and other inscriptive methods. He further demonstrates how the built environment shapes our relationships to land and to one another. In the process, Lochhead highlights small and large acts of contestation and resistance along Dundas Street, raises questions about his own politics of location, and reveals a precarious symbol of colonial power that is far less stable than it initially appears.

By formally and metaphorically evoking the experience of collective walking through the presentation, Lochhead recalls concepts of “walking with” as described by Juanita Sundberg, Stephanie Springgay, and Sarah Truman, while mirroring the process by which the images were collected.

The talk concludes by raising questions drawn from Lochhead’s PhD research about how the renaming campaign and his creative endeavours might be considered within the realm of public pedagogy, intervention, and research-creation/knowledge mobilization. He engages with ideas of walking as witnessing after Carl Lavery, counter-monumentality, Indigenous concepts of land-based learning advanced by Anishinabeg scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and well-established creative traditions such counter-mapping, and site-specific performance.


Charles Andrew Edward Lochhead

PhD Student, Toronto Metropolitan University

Saturday June 10, 2023 10:10am - 10:30am EDT
ARC E-02