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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:12 PM
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Origins and meanings of Canadian place names

I was thinking about starting this thread a few days ago, and the other thread on Did you know? brought it back in mind.

So, what are the origins of the place name of where you live (or of other places in Canada)?

What does the place name actually mean?
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:14 PM
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Embrun was the name of the town in the French Alps that Embrun, ON's first priest originated from. Named the village after his home town, simple enough.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:21 PM
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Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu means what it means. Out of the 516 Saint-Something municipalities in the province, it's the largest... But the name was so common - lots of St-Jean in the province- that the town council added sur-Richelieu to it in 1978 in order to distinguish it from the village on Orleans island and... Saint-Jean (Saint John NB) and Saint-Jean de Terre-Neuve (St. John's NL). Richelieu stands for the river and indirectly for the Cardinal de Richelieu (a very odd character in French history).

Throughout history, it's first been called Masolian by the Abénakis, which meant "lots of silver". Then, Saint-Jean (because of the day the fort was inaugurated in 1666), St. Johns, Dorchester (obvious meaning - the man). During the French regime and until about 1790, the nickname of the place was Fort-aux-Maringouins (or "Fort Mosquito") because of well... haha. Our mascot during the Jeux du Québec was a huge maringouin called Moustique. Sadly the name didn't stick. Would have been fun.

Last edited by Laceoflight; Feb 8, 2018 at 9:45 PM.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laceoflight View Post
Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu means what it means. Out of the 516 Saint-Something municipalities in the province, it's the largest... But the name was so common - lots of St-Jean in the province- that the town council added sur-Richelieu to the it in 1978 in order to distinguish it from the village on Orleans island and... Saint-Jean (Saint John NB) and Saint-Jean de Terre-Neuve (St. John's NL). Richelieu stands for the river and indirectly for the Cardinal de Richelieu (a very odd character in French history).

Throughout history, it's first been called Masolian by the Abénakis, which meant "lots of silver". Then, Saint-Jean (because of the day the fort was inaugurated in 1666), St. Johns, Dorchester (obvious meaning - the man). During the French regime and until about 1790, the nickname of the place was Fort-aux-Maringouins (or "Fort Mosquito") because of well... haha. Our mascot during the Jeux du Québec was a huge maringouin called Moustique. Sadly the name didn't stick. Would have been fun.

Has it ever been referred to as St-Jean-d'Iberville? I have some relatives in that area and in my family for some reason everyone's always called it that.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:29 PM
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Regina SK's original name is "Pile O' Bones", from the Cree "oskana kâ-asastêki", due to buffalo bones being piled on the banks of a creek.

The Ontario city of Kenora was an amalgamation between Rat Portage and Keewatin, Norman, and gets it's name from the first two letters of each. Rat Portage as a name comes from the idea that it is a "portage to the country of the muskrat". Rat Portage itself was early on claimed by Manitoba, and apparently there are early references to Rat Portage, Manitoba. It was briefly officially part of Manitoba at Ottawa's behest for about 10 years until being passed over to Ontario control.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:39 PM
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Saskatoon is derived from the Cree noun misâskwatômina that refers to the berries that grow in the area.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:40 PM
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In the early 1500s (and much earlier, they claim), St. John's was a seasonal fishing station used primarily by the Portuguese, named São João. St. John's is just the translation of that name - lots of myths have risen up crediting various English-speaking sources. None are accurate.

Newfoundland... no idea.

Brigus is my favourite in Newfoundland. It was Brickhouse, and just slowly became Brigus over the centuries.
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Last edited by SignalHillHiker; Feb 8, 2018 at 9:59 PM.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Has it ever been referred to as St-Jean-d'Iberville? I have some relatives in that area and in my family for some reason everyone's always called it that.
Informellement only. As the town was named Saint-Jean "tout court", people would add the county after the name, in order to avoid confusion. My grandparents called it St-Jean-d'Iberville... Younger generations don't. I always thought of my hometown as having the blandest name out of the important places of the province.

Quote:
Regina SK's original name is "Pile O' Bones"
Regina should definitely be renamed to Pile O' Bones.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:41 PM
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All places I've lived:

Edmonton: (OE) "Farmstead of man so named as representing a rich helmet." So named because the chief factor hailed from Edmonton, UK.
Lynnwood: (OE, Scottish) "the wood of a lynn, stream or pool" So named because of a wooded dry stream that was once part of the ravine.
Meyonohk: (Cree) "A nice place to be" So named because the area used to be part of the Papaschase First Nation, a Cree Nation which was dissolved under they eye of the Interior Minister Frank Oliver.
Hazeldean: (OE) "A hill adorned with hazelnut trees" Perhaps of familial association to the original developer.
Rideau Place: (OE) "A congregation point for curtain waterfalls" Likewise.
Millboune: (OE) "Mound atop Mill Creek, creek so named for the large mill located above its mouth into the river" Literal
Hepburn: (OE) "High burial mound" Named for familial relations to the founders.
Devon: (Brythonic) "Deep Valleys" Likewise.
Saskatoon: (Cree) "At the serviceberry" Literal
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laceoflight View Post


Regina should definitely be renamed to Pile O' Bones.

Especially when you consider how the correct pronunciation of Regina causes a visible malaise among non-Canadian visitors.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laceoflight View Post
Informellement only. As the town was named Saint-Jean "tout court", people would add the county after the name, in order to avoid confusion. My grandparents called it St-Jean-d'Iberville... Younger generations don't. I always thought of my hometown as having the blandest name out of the important places of the province.

.
Ahhh, now I get it.

It's like Saint-Raymond (de Portneuf). The real name is Saint-Raymond, but "de Portneuf" is often added to situate it within Quebec, and some people assume it's part of the name.

Ça prenait un "Johanois"(?) pour m'expliquer ça.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 9:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Ahhh, now I get it.

It's like Saint-Raymond (de Portneuf). The real name is Saint-Raymond, but "de Portneuf" is often added to situate it within Quebec, and some people assume it's part of the name.

Ça prenait un "Johanois"(?) pour m'expliquer ça.

Un Johannais ;-) Le plus proche exemple est définitivement Saint-Georges (-de-Beauce).
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:16 PM
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I wonder who gave this name to a street in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, QC, and why ?
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:19 PM
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It seems more than half of the places in Quebec are named after saints. Those of us who aren't Catholic never even realised there were so many saints. Is there a possibility of such names being changed in future, as the religious influence fades?

https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.49506...4,10.37z?hl=en
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:27 PM
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New Westminster was named after Westminster by Queen Victoria in 1859. It was previously known as Queensborough or Queenborough.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Architype View Post
It seems more than half of the places in Quebec are named after saints. Those of us who aren't Catholic never even realised there were so many saints. Is there a possibility of such names being changed in future, as the religious influence fades?

https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.49506...4,10.37z?hl=en
Yep. 516 municipalities have "Saint(e)" somewhere in their name. There are 1287 municipalities in QC. Add to that the numerous : Notre-Dame (of-Something), Sacré-Coeur (of-Something), Assomptions, Ascensions, Annonciations, Presentations... Which all refer to events in the Bible... Then it gets out of proportion.

The worst of them all would probably be : Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur-d'Issoudun. Why not only rename it Issoudun ? For example, the village where most of my family lives used to be Saint-Georges-d'Henryville. Today (and since 1991), it's only Henryville. Chartierville in Estrie is another example. I guess you'll see that a lot in the future.

Anecdote : there are so many villages named St-Something, that when I a kid, I thought the word "Saint" was necessary to name a village. I thought of it as a geographical mark of some sort.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:32 PM
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New Westminster is also the rightful capital of British Columbia, and indeed, New Westminster should have annexed Vancouver a long time ago. It's almost a fluke that what we now today call "Vancouver" is not actually called "the New West metro area".
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laceoflight View Post
Yep. 516 municipalities have "Saint(e)" somewhere in their name. There are 1287 municipalities in QC. Add to that the numerous : Notre-Dame (of-Something), Sacré-Coeur (of-Something), Assomptions, Ascensions, Annonciations, Presentations... Which all refer to events in the Bible... Then it gets out of proportion.

The worst of them all would probably be : Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur-d'Issoudun. Why not only rename it Issoudun ? For example, the village where most of my family lives used to be Saint-Georges-d'Henryville. Today (and since 1991), it's only Henryville. Chartierville in Estrie is another example. I guess you'll see that a lot in the future.

Anecdote : there are so many villages named St-Something, that when I a kid, I thought the word "Saint" was necessary to name a village. I thought of it as a geographical mark of some sort.
By the same token, I propose St. John's NL be renamed "Johnsville".
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:40 PM
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By the same token, I propose St. John's NL be renamed "Johnsville".
Yech.

I do wish we had kept Terra Nova, like on our first flag, as Nova Scotia did. But meh.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:55 PM
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Yech.

I do wish we had kept Terra Nova, like on our first flag, as Nova Scotia did. But meh.
*Terra Nova and Labrador
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