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In Quebec City, a committee wants 'Moncton' removed from prominent street's name

British officer Robert Monckton was a key figure in the deportation of the Acadians in 1755. (Library and Archives Canada - image credit)
British officer Robert Monckton was a key figure in the deportation of the Acadians in 1755. (Library and Archives Canada - image credit)

Inspired by the push to rename the Université de Moncton, Gaëtan Ruest is calling for the reference of General Robert Monckton to be removed from a prominent street in Quebec City.

"This guy has been very horrible with the Acadians, but horrible with the Quebecers also. From Gaspé to Quebec, he burned houses and barns," he said.

Ruest, who graduated from the Université de Moncton in the 1960s, helped launch a citizens' committee to fight for the city to rename Moncton Avenue in Quebec's capital.

The group is preparing to make a formal request to the Geographical Names Commission of Quebec. It hopes to convince them to rename the prominent avenue that runs in the heart of Quebec City, leading up to the Plains of Abraham.

Ruest said Monckton was active in Quebec battles, fighting alongside James Wolfe in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

"How can you have such a person have his name put on public streets, public places? It's unbelievable. You give the name of a site to honourable people," Ruest said.

The Quebec project comes after the recent failed attempt by some Acadian groups to have the Université de Moncton renamed.

Gaëtan Ruest graduated from the Université de Moncton in the 1960s and is calling for Moncton Avenue in Quebec City to be renamed. He's a former mayor of Amqui, Que.
Gaëtan Ruest graduated from the Université de Moncton in the 1960s and is calling for Moncton Avenue in Quebec City to be renamed. He's a former mayor of Amqui, Que.

Gaëtan Ruest graduated from the Université de Moncton in the 1960s and is calling for Moncton Avenue in Quebec City to be renamed. He's a former mayor of Amqui, Que. (JEAN-FRANÇOIS DESCHÊNES/RADIO-CANADA)

The city of Moncton is named after Col. Robert Monckton, a British officer who was a key figure in the deportation of the Acadians in 1755. The university also adopted the name during its founding in the 1960s, provoking decades of controversy and calls to rename the institution.

In December, the university's board of governors voted to keep the name.

Lise Ouellette, co-spokesperson of the citizens' committee that advocated for a name change, said she finds the Quebec project interesting.

"It shows that we are not alone," she said in French. "It's part of a trend toward the affirmation of decolonization and an affirmation of linguistic identity."

The two groups are not working closely together, but Ruest is a member of both. The retired civil engineer served as mayor of Amqui, Que. from 1998 to 2017.

He's joined on the Quebec committee by eight other people, including two Acadians now living in Quebec and a former interim mayor of Quebec City.

The group wants Moncton Avenue renamed Beausoleil-Broussard Avenue, in honour of Joseph Broussard, an Acadian leader in the resistance of the deportation and an important historical figure. They're planning to distribute pamphlets explaining the history to garner support from residents who live on Moncton Avenue.

Ruest said this is the fourth attempt to rename Moncton Avenue. But he's confident it will prove more successful than the campaign in New Brunswick.

He emphasized that he doesn't want to "erase history" and would like Monckton's name and historical influence shared on a nearby plaque, if the street is renamed.