List of place names in Canada of Indigenous origin

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This list of place names in Canada of Indigenous origin contains Canadian places whose names originate from the words of the First Nations, Métis, or Inuit, collectively referred to as indigenous peoples. When possible the original word or phrase used by Indigenous peoples is included, along with its generally believed meaning. Names listed are only those used in English or French, as many places have alternate names in the local native languages, e.g. Alkali Lake, British Columbia is Esket in the Shuswap language; Lytton, British Columbia is Camchin in the Thompson language (often used in English however, as Kumsheen).


The name Canada comes from the word meaning "village" or "settlement" in the Saint-Lawrence Iroquoian[1] language spoken by the inhabitants of Stadacona and the neighbouring region near present-day Quebec City in the 16th century.[2] Another contemporary meaning was "land."[3] Jacques Cartier was first to use the word "Canada" to refer not only to the village of Stadacona, but also to the neighbouring region and to the Saint-Lawrence River.

In other Iroquoian languages, the words for "town" or "village" are similar: the Mohawk use kaná:ta',[4][5] the Seneca iennekanandaa, and the Onondaga use ganataje.[6]

Provinces and territories[edit]

Provinces and territories whose official names are aboriginal in origin are Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut.

By province and territory[edit]


  • Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation no. 437 (formerly "Indian Reserve") named after the Alexis family, prominent in the band
  • Amisk: "Beaver" in Cree.
  • Athabasca: "Where there are reeds" in Cree
  • Battle River translation of Cree place name. There were many fights in its area between Cree, Blackfoot and Nakoda.[9]
  • Bear Hills Lake translation of Cree place name.[9]
  • Bear Hill translation of Cree place name.[9]
  • Beaver Hills (includes today's Elk Island Park) translation of Cree, Blackfoot and Nakoda place names for the feature.[9] Cree name for area was amiskwaciy, Cree name for Edmonton House was amiskwaciwâskahikan (Beaver Mountain House,[10]
  • Blood Reserve 148 (formerly Indian reserve) Kinai First Nation, name roughly translated as Blood in the past
  • Bow River English translation of Blackfoot name for the river – Makhabn, "river where bow reeds grow" (Blackfoot), reeds there were good for making bows with which to shoot arrows.
  • Chipewyan: "duck lake" (includes Fort Chipewyan)[11]
  • Cooking Lake is a translation of its Cree place name opi-mi-now-wa-sioo, indicating a cooking place.
  • Crowfoot: Chief of the Siksika First Nation and signatory of Treaty 7
  • Edmonton wards (municipal election districts) all currently bear names of indigenous origin
    • Nakoda Isga
    • O-day’min, an Anishinaabe term meaning ‘Heart-berry’ which is meant to invoke the image of “the heart through which the North Saskatchewan River runs.”)
    • Anirniq - Pronunciation: A nirk nik
    • tastawiyiniwak (ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ) - Pronunciation: TASS-TAW-WIN-EE-WOK
    • Dene - Pronunciation: DEH-NEH
    • Métis - Pronunciation: MAY-TEA
    • sipiwiyiniwak - Pronunciation: SEE-PEE-WIN-EE-WOK
    • papastew - Pronunciation: PAH-PAH-STAY-OH
    • pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ - Pronunciation: Pee-hay-soo-win
    • Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi - Pronunciation: E-pee-ko-ka-nee piu-tsi-ya
    • Karhiio - Pronunciation: Gar-ee-he-o
    • Sspomitapi - Pronunciation: SS-POH-ME-TAH-PEE
  • Ermineskin Reserve 138 (formerly Indian reserve) owned by Ermineskin Cree Nation, one of the Four Nations of Maskwacis
  • Goosequill Lake translation of Cree word Manikwanan for the lake.[12]
  • Grand Forks: translation of Blackfoot name for the place
  • Grand Prairie: translation of Cree name "Big Prairie"
  • Ipiatik Lake.[13]
  • Kakisa River.[14]
  • Kakwa River.[14]
  • Kananaskis
  • Kapasiwin[15]
  • Kapawe'no First Nation[15]
  • Kimiwan: Cree word for rainy
  • Lake Minnewanka: "Water of the Spirits" in Sioux (Nakoda/Stoney language)
  • Makaoo. Cree name of early leader of the band.[16]
  • Ma-Me-O Beach: from Cree: omîmîw, lit.'pigeon'.
  • Manawan Lake: Cree for "egg-gathering place".[16]
  • Marie Lake: poor translation of the Cree word for the place methai, pronounced merai, which translates as a fish.[16]
  • Maskêkosihk Trail (formerly 23 Avenue between 215 Street and Anthony Henday Drive) Road of the "people of the land of medicine" in Cree[17]
  • Maskwa Creek near Wetaskiwin (Cree for 'black bear')
  • Maskwacis (formerly known as Hobbema) collection of several First Nations name translates as 'bear hills'.
  • Matchayaw Lake Cree for bad spirit. Palliser translated the name as Little Manitoo in 1865.[16]
  • Medicine Hat: Translation of the Blackfoot word saamis, meaning "headdress of a medicine man".
  • Meeting Creek. English translation of the Cree name nukh-kwa-ta-to, which references the frequent meeting between the Cree and Blackfoot there.[16]
  • Metiskow Cree for 'many trees'.[18]
  • Mewassin Cree for 'good, beautiful'.[16]
  • Michichi: Cree for 'hand' (nearby Hand Hills has same source).
  • Mitsue Creek.[19]
  • Mokowan Ridge.[20]
  • Minaik: Cree (also Nakoda) "Minahik" for evergreen (pine or tamarack)
  • Nikanassin Range: "First range" in Cree
  • Okotoks: "Big Rock" in Blackfoot
  • Oldman River. The Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy named the river after their traditional sacred ground at its headwaters, said to the "Old Man's Playing Ground," sacred ground of Napi, the Old Man, the Great Creator.[21]
  • Papaschase Industrial Park (Edmonton)
  • Peace River translation of Dane-zaa language place name unchago, which is derived from peace made in late 1700s between two groups along its shores.[9]
  • Piikani 147 Indian Reserve (on which Brocket is located) owned by Piikani Nation (formerly the Peigan Nation).[22]
  • Pekisko from Blackfoot place name translates as "rough ridge" or "rolling hills".[9]
  • Pipestone River translation of Cree and possibly Nakoda place name, derived from it being source of stone to make pipes.[9]
  • Ponoka: "Black Elk" in Blackfoot
  • Poundmaker Trail: named after Cree chief Poundmaker
  • Prairie Creek: translation of Cree and Nakoda place name.[9]
  • Pretty Hill: translation of Cree place name.[9]
  • Princess Lake: translation of Cree place name.[9]
  • Rabbit Hill (Edmonton): translation of Cree place name.[9]
  • Red River: colour of water in river (red from its high iron content).[9]
  • Redearth Creek: soil on its shores used by Natives as body paint.[9]
  • Redearth Pass: soil in pass used by First Nations as body paint.[9]
  • Redwater (river and town): translation of Cree name "red water".[9]
  • Redwillow Creek: form of translation of Cree place name literally "red feathers/bristles small river".[9]
  • Sakaw (neighbourhood in southside Edmonton)
  • Saskatchewan River, North and South Saskatchewan River. Derived from the Cree name for the Saskatchewan River, kisiskāciwani-sīpiy, meaning "swift flowing river"
  • Shaganappi Trail (Calgary). Shaganappi are rawhide strips. Used to repair a myriad of objects, it was the duct tape of its time.
  • Skyrattler (neighbourhood in southside Edmonton)
  • Slave Lake: "Slave" was a mis-translation of the Cree word for foreigner to describe the Athabaskan people living there. (see Slave River, NWT, below)
  • Smoky Lake: This town's name comes from the Cree name for the almost-now-disappeared lake nearby. Wood Cree named it Smoking Lake for either the large number of campfires around it often, or the unusually large quantities of mist that came off it at sunset.
  • Tipaskan (neighbourhood in southside Edmonton)
  • Valley of Ten Peaks includes these four peaks named after the numerals of the Stoney language:
  • Wabamun: (lake and town west of Edmonton) is a Cree word for "mirror" or "looking glass
  • Wabasca: from wapuskau, "grassy narrows" in Cree language
  • Wapiti River: from the Cree word for "elk", waapiti (literally "white rump").
  • Waputik Range: Waputik means "white goat" in Stoney
  • Waskatenau: village and creek. pronounced with silent "k." In 1880s area was home to the Wah-Sat-Now (Cree) band, which later moved to the Saddle Lake reserve.[23] Cree term for "opening in the banks", in reference to the cleft in the nearby ridge through which the Waskatenau Creek flows.[24]
  • Wetaskiwin: "Place of peace" or "hill of peace" in Cree

British Columbia[edit]

For the scores of BC placenames from the Chinook Jargon, see List of Chinook Jargon place names.











New Brunswick[edit]

Newfoundland and Labrador[edit]

  1. it may be a corruption of the name Maarcoux, after Pierre Marcoux, a French trader in Labrador in the late 18th century [4]; or
  2. from the Inuktitut maggok, "two"; thus Makkovik would mean "two places". Around Makkovik are two inlets, Makkovik Bay and Makkovik harbour, and two main brooks floating into the two inlets. "Two Buchten Machovik", meaning "two bays Makkovik", is mentioned in a 1775 writing by the German Moravian missionary Johann Ludwig Beck.[5]

Nova Scotia[edit]

Northwest Territories[edit]





  • Assiniboia: Derived from the name of the Assiniboine First Nation people.
  • Cypress Hills: Early Métis hunters, who spoke a variation of French, called the hills les montagnes des Cyprès, in reference to the abundance of jack pine trees. In the Canadian French spoken by the Métis, the jack pine is called cyprès.
  • Kamsack: From a First Nation word meaning something vast and large.
  • Katepwa: Likely derived from the Cree word Kahtapwao meaning What is calling?.
  • Kenosee lake
  • Kinistino: It has been suggested that the word Kinistino is equivalent to running water in Cree. This has not been able to be verified.
  • Lake Athabasca: From Woods Cree: aðapaskāw, [where] there are plants one after another.
  • Manitou Beach: When the world was created, the Great Spirit, Aasha Monetoo, gave the land to the indigenous peoples.
  • Mistusinne: Derived from the Plains Cree word mistasiniy meaning big stone which resembled a sleeping bison.
  • Moosomin From the Cree word for the mooseberry or high bush cranberry.
  • Nipawin: Derived from the Cree word meaning a bed, or resting place which referred to a low-lying area along the river now flooded by Codette Lake.
  • Nokomis: Named for Hiawatha's grandmother in Longfellow's epic poem, chosen in 1906 by postmistress Florence Mary Halstead.
  • Ogema: "Omega" is Greek for "end", being "the end of the rail-line". Two communities had the same name, so two letters were switched to become "Ogema". Ogema is an Anishinaabemowin word meaning Chief.
  • Piapot: Named for Chief Piapot, meaning Hole in the Sioux or One Who Knows the Secrets of the Sioux.
  • Saskatoon: Derived from the Cree word misāskwatōmin, meaning Saskatoon berry – a fruit native to the area.
  • Sintaluta: The name comes from a Lakota word meaning tail of the red fox.
  • Wadena: Named after Wadena, Minnesota, the origin of some early settlers of American descent, which was named after Chief Wadena, an Ojibwe Chief.
  • Wakaw: A Cree word meaning crooked, referring to nearby Wakaw Lake.
  • Wapella: Meaning either water underground or gently falling snow, where wape means to snow in Dakota.
  • Waskesiu: From the Cree word meaning red deer or elk. (Also resort town of Waskesiu Lake)
  • Wawota: From the Dakota words wa ota, which means much snow. Wa means snow, oda or ota means lots.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marc Lescarbot in his publication in French 1610 used the term "caribou." Silas Tertius Rand included the term Kaleboo in his Mi'kmaq-English dictionary in 1888.


  1. ^ Bruce G. Trigger and James F. Pendergast. (1978), "Saint-Lawrence Iroquoians", in Handbook of North American Indians. Volume 15. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, pp. 357–361
  2. ^ Jacques Cartier. (1545).Relation originale de Jacques Cartier. Paris, Tross, 1863 edition, page 48.
  3. ^ Alan Rayburn. (2001). Naming Canada: stories about Canadian place names, 2nd ed. (ISBN 0-8020-8293-9) University of Toronto Press: Toronto; p. 13.
  4. ^ Mithun, Marianne (1999). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  5. ^ Bright (2004:78)
  6. ^ Rayburn, op. cit, p. 14.
  7. ^ 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, pg. 191
  8. ^ Bright (2004:583)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Fromhold, 2001 Indian Place Names of the West
  10. ^ "Place Renaming in Edmonton: A Constant in the City's History".
  11. ^ Dempsey, 1969
  12. ^ Holmgren and Holmgren, 1972
  13. ^ Aubrey, p.159
  14. ^ a b Aubrey, p.172
  15. ^ a b Aubrey, p.173
  16. ^ a b c d e f Harrison, Place Names of Alberta, volume 3
  17. ^ "Renamed Maskêkosihk Trail part of City's ongoing reconciliation commitment," CBC News, 12 Feb. 2016
  18. ^ Aubrey, p.210
  19. ^ Aubrey, p.215
  20. ^ Aubrey, p.217
  21. ^ "Oldman River," Historica Canada website
  22. ^ Wikipedia "Piikani First Nation"
  23. ^ Edmonton Bulletin, 3 Jan. 1881; 18 April 1885; 16 Sept. 1897
  24. ^ Harrison, Volume 3
  25. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, 'caribou'
  26. ^ Kavanagh, Maureen, ed. (2005) [1985], "Hinterland Who's Who", Canadian Wildlife Service/EC, ISBN 0-662-39659-6, archived from the original on 24 December 2013, retrieved 21 December 2013
  27. ^ BC Names entry "Gataga Mountain"
  28. ^ "Klemtu". BC Geographical Names.
  29. ^ "Kwadacha River". BC Geographical Names.
  30. ^ "Caribou Hide (community)". BC Geographical Names.
  31. ^ "Nadina River". BC Geographical Names.
  32. ^ "Nakusp (village)". BC Geographical Names.
  33. ^ "New Brunswick "What's in a Name"".
  34. ^ "Acadian History:Maliseet History:Acadian Ancestral Home".
  35. ^ "About Quispamsis".
  36. ^ "Sicamous (district municipality)". BC Geographical Names.
  37. ^ "Toodoggone River". BC Geographical Names.
  38. ^ "Government of Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – New Brunswick". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  39. ^ "Central Quebec School Board – Places & Origin of Names". Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  40. ^
  41. ^ Paskal, Cleo (10 June 2006). "The Toronto Star – Harbouring a host of delights". Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  42. ^ "Mi'kmaq – Words, Pronunciation – Jipugtug (with audio clips)". Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  43. ^ " – Halifax's History – Jipugtug (or Chebucto)". Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  44. ^ " – Transportation – Public Works – New highway named Cobequid Pass". Government of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  45. ^ "Acadian-Cajun, Genealogy & History – Exile Destination – Cobequid". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  46. ^ " – History of Pictou – By historian Ron Wallis". Archived from the original on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  47. ^ "Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, County place names". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  48. ^ " – Local Histories – Pugwash". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  49. ^ "Sympatico, MSN Travel – Nova Scotia's Northern Shore, Pugwash". Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  50. ^ "Museum, Government of Nova Scotia – 511 Windsor Lowlands". Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  51. ^ Berger, Jonathan; Terry, Thomas (2007). Canoe Atlas of the Little North. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press. pp. 109, 111, 115. ISBN 978-1-55046-496-2. OCLC 78038334. Also OCLC 174417835
  52. ^ a b c d e Freelang Ojibwe Dictionary
  53. ^ Rayburn, Alan, Place Names of Ontario, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997, p. 258.
  54. ^ Bright (2004:508–9)

Further reading[edit]