Herewith a few key facts about Egerton Ryerson, well documented and very different from the false accusations in circulation, accepted uncritically:

Egerton Ryerson was the founder of the progressive Ontario school system, providing free education to boys and girls, paid for by taxpayers, when Great Britain, notably, still relied on fee-paying schools, almost all for boys.

His work in education influenced the four western provinces, and even reforms in Great Britain.

Before Egerton Ryerson became Superintendent of Education for Ontario—a secular post–he was a Methodist minister, sent to live with the Missisaugas of the Credit River,1826-27,where he learned Ojibway and was given an Ojibway name, Cheechock, “Bird on a Wing,” by a chief, as a “brother.”

While Ryerson was sent to the Credit Ojibway as a missionary, in fact he spent much of his time assisting them in economic development, farming (he came from a farm background). They realized that they had to learn farming and adapt to settler ways—they had lost much of their hunting grounds and salmon fishery to settlers.

Ryerson taught the Ojibway what would now be called “organic, sustainable farming,” soil improvement by crop rotation and manure. He later published a book on this, First Lessons on Agriculture.

While with the Credit Ojibway, Ryerson became lifelong friends with a fellow Methodist, Kahkewaquonaby—English name Peter Jones–who was later elected an Ojibway chief .Ryerson supported his efforts to get them a firm land title, and exclusive salmon-fishing rights in their fishery (they were not successful).

Yet the Ryerson University Task Force, “Standing Strong,” recommended that the Ryerson name be removed from the university and its various journals and organizations, ignoring the historical record of his many contributions, to education for all, and his warm relations with Indigenous peoples. The Task Force acknowledged many positives about him in an appendix, but ignored that material in its recommendations. Instead, the report featured anonymous grievances by “community members.”

Indigenous students at Ryerson University reported being seriously hurt by the Ryerson statue and the University’s name, evidently believing the nasty accusations in circulation, which the University Administration never refuted. Rather, the Administration put up a plaque supposedly to “contextualize” what Ryerson did, but which repeated the erroneous accusation of his involvement in the residential school system. Yet Ryerson had only supported the voluntary, bilingual (Indigenous and English) schools Indigenous leaders themselves wanted.

The Ryerson Administration failed in its duty to care for its students, especially Indigenous ignoring their suffering caused by misinformation.

For further information, and documentation, see