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Following article posted JULY 31, 2000, Vol. IV Number 13

Roving Reporters
   Contributed by: Alan Rayburn,

Ontario Place Names - Colpoy’s Bay & Lansing

Colpoy's Bay

Occasionally I receive requests from readers of the Global Gazette. One that was received in early June was an especially hard one to resolve. The correspondent asked where ‘Canponis Bay’, Canada is/was located. She stated that a distant relative also had the same name. Checks of my usual sources and chain-letter searches in the Canadian Geographical Names Database failed to reveal a name similar to Canponis Bay. I asked for a photocopy of the source of the name, and was sent a copy of a black paper card with raised gold-ink lettering. After comparing the letters of the name with the letters in the eleven lines of the remembrance card, I concluded that the third letter was not ‘n’ but was a double ‘l’. When I started to rewrite the name as C-a-l-l-p-o-, it finally dawned on me that it was Colpoy’s Bay.

My correspondent replied as follows: “I can't thank you enough for your help. I had no idea of the Wroxeter/Rocksetter misspelling, so of course Colpoy's Bay makes sense. I had mistakenly guessed that the names had been changed, and thanks to you I have learned a valuable genealogy research lesson!

“I have recently found a distant relative in Canada who also was looking for ‘Canponis Bay’ info., so I will forward your findings on to them. I am so excited to have a new direction to begin researching and I will be happy to let you know if we find a connection.

Colpoy’s Bay is a small community of about 100 people on the northwest side of the 15-km-long Colpoy’s Bay, an arm of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. Wiarton, the home of wily Wiarton Willy, the renowned weather prophet, is located just five km to the southwest, and is at the head of Colpoy’s Bay. Owen Sound is 25 km to the southeast.

In 1826 British Admiralty surveyor Henry Bayfield honoured Rear Admiral Sir Edward Griffith Colpoys by naming the bay after him. In 1863 Colpoy’s Bay post office was opened, with an erroneous apostrophe. In 1946 the spelling was changed to Colpoy Bay, but four years later the name was correctly spelled Colpoys Bay. However, the local residents preferred the original postal spelling, and Colpoy’s Bay was restored for both the post office and the bay in 1978.

Those searching Census records for information about ancestors in Colpoy’s Bay would investigate Albemarle Township in Bruce County. In 1998, Mack Mackenzie, the creator of Wiartion Willy in the 1950s, had a remarkable idea for the name of a new township formed by the town of Wiarton, the townships of Albemarle and Amabel, and the village of Hepworth. He wanted to call it Mars! - with the exclamation mark, and claimed the odd name would attract tourists. Imagine Wiarton Willy from Mars! And 7,000 Martians on the Bruce Peninsula. The voters chose the mundane South Bruce Peninsula instead.


Another request received in July listed the birthplace of John F. Smith on April 23, 1861 as ‘Luncie’, Canada. I suspect that the place of birth was Lansing, located between York Mills and Willowdale, in what was then North York Township, but is now in the northern part of the city of Toronto. Much of it has disappeared under the concrete of the multiple lanes of Highway 401. John Smith’s sister, Aca Ann Smith, who was born in 1863, is the grandmother of my correspondent, who is living in the state of Washington.

In 1998 my youngest son created a web site for me. We called it http:/ , and engaged a Mississauga-based web server to launch it on the Internet. Recently the web server has disappeared. Although the site can still be opened, I no longer can access any queries. If any reader sent a request to the web site, please readdress the request to

I welcome queries about Canadian names. If there is a document in which the name occurs, a photocopy of it often provides clues as to what the name was or is. By mail I may be reached at Alan Rayburn, 5 Solva Drive, Nepean ON K2H 5R4.

Books and Articles By Alan Rayburn:

Naming Canada, Stories About Place Names from Canadian Geographic

Place Names of Ontario

Global Gazette articles by Alan Rayburn

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