Toronto Restauranteur Proposes Renaming Yonge-Dundas Square After Gordon Lightfoot

"He was integral in creating this neighbourhood as the entertainment and music capital of the city," said Arron Barberian

BY Megan LaPierrePublished May 8, 2023

It's been a little over a week since the news of Gordon Lightfoot's death sent shockwaves through both the Canadian music community and the world at large. Of course, there's already talk of different ways to pay tribute to the singer-songwriter and memorialize his legacy, including the idea of renaming a Toronto landmark after him.

Local restauranteur Arron Barberian has proposed the city rename Yonge-Dundas Square after Lightfoot, City News reports. Like his father before him, Barberian grills T-bones at Barberian's Steak House — established a mere hop, skip and jump away from the famous intersection in 1959.

"I'd like to see the great Gordon Lightfoot memorialized in the city, and I think there is nothing better than the square at the corner of Yonge and Dundas," the restauranteur and former head of the local Business Improvement Areas (BIA) board told the outlet.

"He's the right person. He was integral in creating this neighbourhood as the entertainment and music capital of the city," Barberian, who played a role in shaping the square as we now know it, explained. "I think it's an appropriate way to honour that man."

The restauranteur wrote a letter to the mayor's office detailing his proposal, and it appears to be gaining traction among city council members.

"I think it's a great idea, but we also have other ideas on how to honour Gordon Lightfoot that are coming to council," Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie told City News. "That includes statues of commemoration, and it also includes Gordon Lightfoot Day in Toronto."

There's already reason to update the name of the square, as the council made a mandate to rename Dundas Street nearly two years ago. Scottish minister Henry Dundas never stepped foot in Toronto and was infamously a key player in hindering the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. 

"That process is still ongoing, so it's ultimately up to city council to decide when and what and how these city-owned assets become named," Julian Sleath, general manager of Yonge-Dundas Square, added. Renaming the street alone will cost an estimated $6 million.

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