City council looks to sink Franklin’s name on 50th Avenue

Sir John Franklin, a British explorer of the North, who was never near what is now Yellowknife, had a major city roadway named after him. It looks like that is going to change. (Photo courtesy National Gallery.)

The city is exploring a name change for Franklin Avenue in the spirit of truth and reconciliation after a request was made by Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

Having the main street in the territory’s capital named after a European colonist who never set foot anywhere near what is now Yellowknife has always been a topic of concern and conversation.

Yellowknife City Manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett, foreground, and Coun. Stacie Arden‐Smith during the Governance and Priorities committee on March 18. (Photo by James O’Connor/CKLB.)

However, this time it looks like the name change might actually happen.

Members of the city’s Governance and Priorities committee on Monday were in favour of sinking the Franklin name, in favour of Chief Drygeese Avenue.

Discussion regarding the renaming of Franklin Avenue took place on February 22, during a joint Council Meeting, wherein the YKDFN Chiefs and Council requested to rename Franklin Avenue.

City Coun. Stacie Arden‐Smith, who is Indigenous, said she wants to make sure everyone who wants to has a chance to express their feelings about the name change.

“Let’s face it: Sir John Franklin was never here, so (his legacy) has no place in Yellowknife,” she said. “We are a capital city and we represent not just one, but many. So I want to do this right.”

City Manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett and Mayor Rebecca Alty noted there are many factors to take into account when undertaking such a major project.

Mayor Rebecca Alty had a formidable presence during the Governance and Priorities committee on March 18. (Photo by James O’Connor/CKLB.)

Items such as: Larger street signs to accommodate the longer name; online maps and GPS services; potential confusion created for emergency and other municipal services; commercial delivery services; and the traveling public.

The renaming will touch approximately 300 properties using Franklin Avenue or 50th Avenue in the Canada Post System.

In fact, as the mailing addresses for Franklin Avenue residents and businesses is on 50th Avenue..

The City of Yellowknife has stated it is committed to honouring and recognizing the importance of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples to the development of the city and recognizes that it must honour the original residents and their significant contributions.

The city’s Administration was directed to bring forward a memorandum to the committee with more information on what it will take to tackle the renaming project.

Franklin Avenue on a very quiet long weekend morning. It’s also known as 50th Avenue. And plans are afoot to re-name it Chief Drygeese Avenue at the request of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. (Photo by James O’Connor/CKLB.)



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James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: