2018, Volume 15, Issue 1

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Gunter Schaarschmidt
University of Victoria
Victoria, Canada

Some Good Reasons for Renaming Places, and Some not so Good Ones: a Cross-Cultural Sketch. In Honour of Canada’s 150th Birthday and the Year of Reconciliation

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp. 181–187 (in English)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.1.009

Received 23 July 2017

Abstract: The note focuses on the initiative of renaming some places in Canada to celebrate the year of Canada’s 150th anniversary, as well as the Year of Reconciliation (2017). The initiative aims at revitalizing the original names given by the First Nations, i.e. coming from the Cree, Salish and other Aboriginal languages. The author cites examples proving that such initiatives are not always shared by the public due to the pronunciation diffi culties new names may cause (such is the renaming of Mount Douglas to Saanich Pkols [pkˀals] and Mount Newton to Saanich ŁÁU,WELṈEW_, that had been in the works for quite a while before 2017). In some other cases, the renaming turns out to be controversial, inconsistent or incomplete: like Fort Amherst that still retains its name after an 18th-century British Army Offi cer guilty of extirpation of indigenous people (Parks Canada having opposed the removal of the name Amherst since 2008), or Fushimi Lake, formerly known as Pewabiska by its Ojibwa / Cree origins, and whose name was changed in the early 20th century to commemorate the visit of prince Hiroyasu Fushimi (some other places in his honour being renamed as far back as during World War II). The author also points out that the need for renaming has gone beyond the concern of the First Nations and presently affects some groups of immigrants, which is the case with the name of Berlin (Kitchener) in Ontario.

Keywords: place names of Canada, Salish languages, Cree languages, Mount Douglas, Mount Newton, Tsilhqot’in


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