List of Canadian provincial and territorial name etymologies

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This page lists the etymologies of the names of the provinces and territories of Canada.[1]

Provinces and territories[edit]

Name Language of origin Word(s) in original language Meaning and notes
Alberta in Canada.svg
Latin (ultimately from Proto-Germanic) Feminine Latinized form of Albert, ultimately from the Proto-Germanic *Aþalaberhtaz (compound of "noble" + "bright/famous"), after Princess Louisa Caroline Alberta[2][3]
 British Columbia
British Columbia in Canada.svg
Latin Referring to the British sector of the Columbia District, after the Columbia River, ultimately after the Columbia Rediviva, a reference to Christopher Columbus[4][5]
Manitoba in Canada.svg
Cree, Ojibwe. or Assiniboine manitou-wapow, manidoobaa, or minnetoba "Straits of Manitou, the Great Spirit" or "Lake of the Prairie", after Lake Manitoba[6][7]
 New Brunswick
New Brunswick in Canada.svg
German (ultimately from Low German) Brunswik Combination of Bruno and wik, referring to a place where merchants rested and stored their goods[8]
 Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.svg
Portuguese Terra Nova and Lavrador "New land", and the surname of João Fernandes Lavrador, meaning "farmer" or "plower"[9]
 Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories in Canada.svg
English Referring to the territory's position relative to Rupert's Land
 Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia in Canada.svg
Latin "New Scotland", referring to the country Scotland, derived from the Latin Scoti, the term applied to Gaels[10][11]
Nunavut in Canada.svg
Inuktitut ᓄᓇᕗᑦ "Our land"[12]
Ontario in Canada.svg
Iroquoian, Wyandot Ontarí꞉io or skanadario "Great lake" or "beautiful water", after Lake Ontario[13][14]
 Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island in Canada.svg
English (ultimately from Anglo-Saxon) After Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, ultimately from the Anglo-Saxon ead "wealth, fortune; prosperous" and weard "guardian, protector"[15]
Quebec in Canada.svg
Algonquin, Mi'kmaq, Ojibwe kébec "Where the river narrows", referring to the narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River at Quebec City[16]
Saskatchewan in Canada.svg
Cree kisiskāciwani-sīpiy "Swift-flowing river", after the Saskatchewan River[17]
Yukon in Canada.svg
Gwichʼin chųų gąįį han "White water river", after the Yukon River[18][19]

Historical regions[edit]

  1. Credited to Florentine navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, who first named a region around Chesapeake Bay Archadia (Arcadia) in 1524 because of "the beauty of its trees", according to his diary. Cartographers began using the name Arcadia to refer to areas progressively farther north until it referred to the French holdings in maritime Canada (particularly Nova Scotia). The -r- also began to disappear from the name on early maps, resulting in the current Acadia.[20]
  2. Possibly derived from the Míkmaq word akatik, pronounced roughly "agadik", meaning "place", which French-speakers spelled as -cadie in place names such as Shubenacadie and Tracadie, possibly coincidentally.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Provinces and Territories - The origins of their names". 2007-09-18. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2011-11-23.
  2. ^ Campbell, Mike. "Meaning, origin and history of the name Albert". Behind the Name.
  3. ^ "Alberta | Origin and meaning of the name Alberta by Online Etymology Dictionary".
  4. ^ Akrigg, Helen B.; G.P.V. (1977). British Columbia Chronicle, 1847–1871: Gold & Colonists (illustrated ed.). Discovery Press. ISBN 9780919624030.
  5. ^ "Why is the Western Region of Canada Called British Columbia?". Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Natural Resources Canada. Manitoba [archived 4 June 2008; Retrieved 28 October 2009].
  7. ^ Strange Empire, a Narrative of the Northwest. Minnesota Historical Society Press; 1994. ISBN 978-0873512985. p. 192.
  8. ^ Moderhack, Richard (1997). Braunschweiger Stadtgeschichte (in German). Braunschweig: Wagner. pp. 14–15 and 21. ISBN 3-87884-050-0.
  9. ^ Hamilton, William B. (1978): The Macmillan book of Canadian place names, Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, p. 105.
  10. ^ Scottish Settlement Archived 7 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  11. ^ P. Freeman, Ireland and the Classical World, Austin, 2001, pp. 93.
  12. ^ "Origin of the names of Canada and its provinces and territories". Natural Resources Canada. September 18, 2007. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  13. ^ Marianne Mithun (June 7, 2001). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge University Press. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-521-29875-9.
  14. ^ "About Canada // Ontario". Study Canada. pp. Last Paragraph–second–last sentence. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011. The name "Ontario" is generally thought to be derived from the Iroquois word Skanadario, meaning "beautiful water"
  15. ^ Tidridge, Nathan. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent: Father of the Canadian Crown. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2013.
  16. ^ Afable, Patricia O. and Madison S. Beeler (1996). "Place Names". In "Languages", ed. Ives Goddard. Vol. 17 of Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William C. Sturtevant. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, p. 191.
  17. ^ "Government of Canada". September 18, 2007. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  18. ^ "Dear Sir, I have great pleasure in informing you that I have at length after much trouble and difficulties, succeed[ed] in reaching the 'Youcon', or white water River, so named by the (Gwich'in) natives from the pale colour of its water. …, I have the honour to Remain Your obt Servt, John Bell" Hudson's Bay Company Correspondence to George Simpson from John Bell (August 1, 1845), HBC Archives, D.5/14, fos. 212-215d, also quoted in, Coates, Kenneth S. & Morrison, William R. (1988). Land of the Midnight Sun: A History of the Yukon. Hurtig Publishers. p. 21. ISBN 0-88830-331-9. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  19. ^ In Gwich'in, adjectives, such as choo [big] and gąįį [white], follow the nouns that they modify. Thus, white water is chųų gąįį [water white]. White water river is chųų gąįį han [water white river]. Peter, Katherine (1979). Dinjii Zhuh Ginjik Nagwan Tr'iłtsąįį: Gwich'in Junior Dictionary (PDF). Univ. of Alaska. pp. ii (ą, į, ų are nasalized a, i, u), xii (adjectives follow nouns), 19 (nitsii or choo [big]), 88 (ocean = chųų choo [water big]), 105 (han [river]), 142 (chųų [water]), 144 (gąįį [white]). Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  20. ^ Acadia: Origin of the Word by Bill Casselman
  21. ^ Provinces and Territories - The origins of their names Archived 2008-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Nunatsiavut Government| Archived 2010-02-11 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]