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BOOK - Naming Canada Stories About Place Names from Canadian Geographic
by Alan Rayburn
How did your city/town/village get its name? For that matter, how did Canada find itself with some of the most unusual place names in the world? Names like Miramichi, Flin Flon, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon? Or some of the most mellifluous - Keremeos, Similkameen, Twillingate, or Margaree?
Since 1983 Alan Rayburn has been writing a popular column called `Place Names' for the Canadian Geographic. In it he delves into the sources of Canadian place names, and in so doing reveals a treasure trove of Canadian history and myth. This volume brings together over sixty columns Rayburn has written; it is at the same time a fine and accurate reference for Canadian place names and a collection of colourful anecdotes.
Native place names are stamped across the entire country, reflecting the First Nations' contributions to our history. Ontario, Rayburn points out, might be derived from the Iroquoian word for `handsome lake,' but more likely it comes from the Huron word for `large lake.' Kitwanga, a small community east of Prince Rupert, means `people of the place of many rabbits' in Tsimshian.
We have honoured the moose 662 times in our place names (think of Moosonee, Moose Factory, Moosomin, Moose Jaw, Moose Ear Pond ...). Our most honoured name is Victoria, although the Queen's memory is less evident in Quebec than in Ontario, where there are at least 47 distinct places and geographical features with her name. Regina just escaped being called Victoria, but the then governor-general, the Marquess of Lorne, her son-in-law, chose the second half of her Latin title for the city in the District of Assiniboia.
Covering everything from how our national parks were named to places with names that are acronyms, such as Arvida and Kenora, Naming Canada is a delightful addition to the library of anyone who has puzzled over the strange and unusual names that abound in Canada.
Praise for Naming Canada:
'Alan Rayburn succeeds in bringing to life an unsuspected wealth of geographical names, associating them with their background and linking them to their history, thus providing the reader with an incredibly rich palette of Canadiana...The innovative and original complement to the history and geography of Canada.'
'Naming Canada will be enjoyed and valued as a resource by everyone with an interest in place names or the geography of Canada.'
'A handy reference for settling trivia arguments as well as a diversion to pick up at anytime.'
'This little book is full of entertaining stories. It is hard to put down once you start reading it. The stories are entertaining and give us some of the real cultural history of Canada.'
'Enjoyable and informative at the same time.'
'A ramble through Naming Canada by Alan Rayburn turns up a wonderful variety of names.'
'The book is more than just names and numbers, Rayburn has also tried to seek out the whys and wherefore's that have been involved in how places in this country were named.'
'This isn't your garden-variety let's-poke-fun at Dildo, Nfld. Author Rayburn looks at the origins of the place-names and how - and why - they've been altered by local tongue.'
'Nothing acts as a mirror for the social and cultural fabric of a country more than place names. Steeped in our past, they linger long after those who named them.