Naming Places

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If you are ever responsible for naming something, please think twice before doing it. Don’t just go for a boring name — there must be 1000 places in Canada called “Long Lake” or “Hillview.” Places in the NWT, in particular around Wrigley, have some of the best names!

river in the NWT, viewed from C172
River Between Two Mountains (photo taken out the window of a small plane)

Wrigley River (It ain’t straight!)
Moose Pasture Creek
Fish Trap Creek
River Between Two Mountains (This is my favourite!)
Willowlake River
Gun Rapids
English Chief River
Ochre River
Bear Mountain Creek (Isn’t there a coffee company named after that? Or a soap company?)
Redstone River
White Sand Creek
Mud Lake (Gee, don’t you just want to go swimming there!)
Slim Lake
Blackwater Lake
Highland Lake
Greasy Lake (I wonder if there is oil seeping there…)
Willow Ridge
Trench Creek
Twin Fish Lake
Moose Lakes

Of course, there are some geographic features named after people:
Smith Creek
Hodgson Creek
Johnson River
Mount Steiner
Mount Gaudet
Camsell Bend, Mount Camsell and Camsell Range (Whoever this Camsell guy was, he got a lot of things after himself!)
Mount Kindle (named after the inventor of the ebook reader of course!)
Ebbutt Hills (I assume this was named after someone, or someone’s butt)
McGern Island
Iverson Lake
Carlson Creek

I keep hoping I’ll find a river named after me, but not yet… Or even a creek. Really, just a trickle. Or a pond. I’m not fussy!

There are also quite a few named in the local First Nations language. I wonder if these words are descriptive, or named after people?
Dahakaycho Lake
Paeentee Lake
Peekayo Lake
Nothaykay Lake
Klochotee Lake
Eentsaymeay Pond
Dathahneelee River
Dahadinni River
Eentsaytoo Lake
Notseglee Lake
Podaytayshe Mountain
Paynaychee Mountain
Nahanni Mountain
Dokale Creek
Shegonla Hills (Or is this Fringlish? “Where’d she go? She gon la.”)
Nodaday Creek (Not a day goes by I don’t miss my honey!!)
Soto Creek
Gashoday Creek
Tonaeenlee Lake

I wonder if some of those mean “place where mosquitoes hatch” or “river with slimy rocks on the banks” or “lake where the fish don’t bite.” If you have ideas, leave them in the comments! :)

I’m sure in the early days of Canada, the geographical surveyors got completely blasé about naming things, judging by some of these:
Dam Creek
Fish Lake
Cap Mountain
Table Mountain (There are two Table Mountains around here, and isn’t there one near Banff too?)
Lone Mountain
Twin Peaks
Willow Creek

So, if you are ever given the opportunity to name something, go for a good descriptive name*! Or, get a Native elder to name it for you, just make sure you find out the meaning (or you might end up with a name meaning “dumbest place on Earth” or “the Great Spirit wiggles its nose at you”).

*The above does NOT apply to naming children. Don’t name your kid Redface, Screamer, Head-Full-of-Hair, Chubby, Wrinkly, Baldy, Buttonnose…

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2 thoughts on “Naming Places

    Pam said:
    September 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I came across this blog while looking up the River Between Two Mountains, trying to remember – it runs out of Fish Lake i think. I went down it in 1972 while doing archaeological survey. Took four days of canoeing (no motor on a freighter canoe), walking holding onto the canoe, riding on the rear end of it going thru rapids when the banks were too steep to walk. Not a fun trip – took 4 days.
    What were you doing in the Mackenzie?

      Teresa responded:
      September 22, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Hello! I was working up in Wrigley at the airport, as a CARS operator. I am normally stationed in Fort Simpson, but went up there during break-up. Sounds like a crazy canoe trip! Yikes. It looks like a neat little river though… might have to try it myself some time! :) Do you remember what time of year you were there? I am thinking spring might be best with higher water levels…

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