List of place names in Canada of Indigenous origin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.[11]
  • Bow Valley Natural Area (see Bow River)
  • Calgary roads (trails) named after Indigenous Nations and an element of Metis lifestyle—Stoney, Blackfoot, Metis, Shaganappi, Sarcee, and Peigan Trails are all named in honour of the first people on this continent, although the latter two have since changed their names. The Peigan are now known as the Piikani Nation and the Sarcee are now the Tsuut’ina Nation, but both street names remain.[12]
  • Chipewyan: "duck lake" (includes Fort Chipewyan)[13]
  • Cooking Lake is a translation of its Cree place name opi-mi-now-wa-sioo, indicating a cooking place.
  • Crowfoot Crossing—named after Crowfoot (Blackfoot name Sahpo Muxika) (born c. 1836; died April 24, 1890), chief of the Siksika First Nation and signatory of Treaty. He was instrumental during the Treaty 7 negotiations and acted as a representative of his people.[12]
  • Deerfoot Trail: after Deerfoot-Bad Meat, a Blackfoot man who was known around Calgary[14]
  • Edmonton wards (municipal election districts) all bear names of Indigenous origin, since 2020.[15]
  • 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.[16]
  • Grand Forks: translation of Blackfoot name for the place
  • Grand Prairie: translation of Cree name "Big Prairie"
  • Ipiatik Lake.[17]
  • James Mowatt Trail. James Mowatt (Metis, born in St. Andrews, Manitoba) carried message from Edmonton to Calgary during 1885 Rebellion, asking for military assistance for Edmonton, which was thought to be under threat of Native uprising. He made the trip in only 36 hours, a record at that time. He later was a gold-rusher and then moved back to Manitoba.[18][19][20]
  • Kakisa River.[21]
  • Kakwa River.[21]
  • Kananaskis
  • Kapasiwin: Cree for 'campsite'[22]
  • Kapawe'no First Nation[22]
  • Kaskitayo: Edmonton community. Originally spelled Kaskiteeo, this name is derived from the Cree word, noted by J. B. Tyrrell in the 1870s as kas-ki-tee-oo-asiki, meaning 'blackmud creek'. (Neighbourhood names in the Kaskitayo area honour Aboriginal leaders – Bearspaw, Big Bear, Ermineskin, Kainai)[23]
  • Kikino Trail, Edmonton. The name of this trail, a major walkway in the Thorncliff neighbourhood, reflects the theme of most of Edmonton’s walkways, which are named for prominent Aboriginal people or have a relationship with Aboriginal heritage. Kikino is said to be the Cree word for “our home.” Kikino Trail is one of a number of trail names approved between 1969 and 1971. This name has been in use since 1895. While its origin is not recorded, the name is taken from the Cree word kinokamâw, which means “a long lake.”[24]
  • Kimiwan: Cree word for rainy
  • Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park (Wood Buffalo Park). Kitaskino Nuwenëné is both Cree and Dene meaning “our land.”
  • Lake Minnewanka: "Water of the Spirits" in Sioux (Nakoda/Stoney language)
  • Lily Lake—name is translation of Indigenous place name.[25]
  • Makaoo. Cree name of early leader of the band, the Onion Lake Cree Nation in Alberta and Saskatchewan,.[25]
  • Ma-Me-O Beach: from Cree: omîmîw, lit.'pigeon'.
  • Manawan Lake: Cree for "egg-gathering place".[25]
  • Marie Lake: poor translation of the Cree word for the place methai, pronounced merai, which translates as a fish.[25]
  • Maskêkosihk Trail (formerly 23 Avenue between 215 Street and Anthony Henday Drive) Road of the "people of the land of medicine" in Cree[26]
  • Maskepetoon Park (Red Deer) after Chief Maskepetoon (1807–1869). Said to be the "Gandhi of the Plains", he made temporary peace between the Cree and the Siksika before being killed by an enemy.[27]
  • 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.[25]
  • 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.[25]
  • Metiskow Cree for 'many trees'.[28]
  • Mewassin Cree for 'good, beautiful'.[25]
  • Minaik: Cree (also Nakoda) "Minahik" for evergreen (pine or tamarack)
  • Michichi: Cree for 'hand' (nearby Hand Hills has same source).
  • Ministik (in the Beaver Hills UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) a former school district (Ministik School District #1796). Ministik Lake is nearby. Ministik means island in Nehiyawewin (Cree).[29]
  • Mitsue Creek.[30]
  • Mokowan Ridge.[31]
  • Moose Lake. Known to early French-Canadian fur traders as lac d'Orignal, meaning Moose Lake. This may have been a direct translation of the local Cree name of the same meaning, Mōswa sākahikan.[32]
  • Namaka (hamlet) Blackfoot name "near the water", referring to nearby Bow River or Eagle Lake.[33]
  • Neutral Hills Name commemorates the place where the Cree and Blackfoot made peace and chose to share the area's bison, ending decades-long fighting there.[34]
  • Nikanassin Range: "First range" in Cree
  • Notikewin (hamlet) and Notikewin River. The name derives from nôtinikewin, the Cree word for "battle".[35][36]
  • 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.[37]
  • Otoskwan school district and railway siding on outskirts of Edmonton, now within Edmonton. Named after Cree name for nearby water-course Blackmud Creek. Otoskwan translates as big tributary. (William Peter Baergen, Pioneering with A Piece of Chalk)
  • Papaschase Industrial Park (Edmonton) named after Chief Papaschase (Papastayo) (ca. 1838–1918) or his band. (South Edmonton Saga)
  • Peace River translation of Dane-zaa language river name unjigah,[38] which is derived from peace made in late 1700s between two groups along its shores.[9]
  • Peigan – former school district (#3430).[39]
  • Pekisko from Blackfoot place name pik-isko translates as "rough ridge" or "rolling hills".[9][40]
  • Piikani 147 Indian Reserve (on which Brocket is located) owned by Piikani Nation (formerly the Peigan Nation).[41]
  • Pipestone River translation of Cree and possibly Nakoda place name, derived from it being source of stone to make pipes.[9]
  • Ponoka: attempt to use its Blackfoot name ponokáwa "Elk" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 16;
  • 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"
  • Saskatoon Mountain Natural Area
  • Seven Persons translation of Blackfoot name kitsikitapi-itsinitupi "seven persons were killed" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 17) (see Hugh A. Dempsey, "A Blackfoot Winter Count" for full story.)
  • Shaganappi Trail (Calgary). Shaganappi are rawhide strips. Used to repair a myriad of objects, it was the duct tape of its time.
  • Skoki Mountain and Skoki valley. Stoney Nakoda word for swamp. There are several in the area.[42]
  • 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 smouldering coal-fires in the ground, or the unusually large quantities of mist that came off it at sunset. (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 17)
  • Sounding Lake, in the Neutral Hills. Name is based on Native legend wherein a Great Eagle, Mikisew, emerges from the waters and takes off across the hills, its great wings making a noise like thunder.[34]
  • Spirit River translation of Cree name for nearby water-course chipi-sipi "spirit river" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 17)
  • Stony Plain translation of Cree name asinipwat-muskatayo "Stony (Native) plain" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 18)
  • Sucker Creek translation of Cree name nimipi-sipisis "sucker (fish) creek" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 18)
  • Tawatinaw (hamlet) near Highway 2 about 100 kms north of Edmonton
  • Tecumseh, Mount a mountain in the Crowsnest Pass area
  • Tipaskan (neighbourhood in southside Edmonton)
  • Twin Butte may be derived from Blackfoot name natsikapway-tomo "double hill" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 18)
  • Two Hills (town about 120 kilometres east of Edmonton) may be derived from Cree name misoyik-kispakinasik "two hills" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 18)
  • Valley of Ten Peaks includes these four peaks named after the numerals of the Stoney language:
  • Vermilion River (Alberta) translation of Cree name for the water-course, weeyaman-sipi "red paint river" (Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 18)
  • Vermilion, Alberta see Vermilion River, which is nearby.
  • 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.[43] Cree term for "opening in the banks", in reference to the cleft in the nearby ridge through which the Waskatenau Creek flows.[44]
  • Wetaskiwin: "Place of peace" or "hill of peace" in Cree
  • Yoho Park. The Cree word "yoho" is used the same way as the English "wow."[45]

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 [1]; 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.[2]

Nova Scotia[edit]

Northwest Territories[edit]






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. ^ "About the Bow River". Bow Riverkeeper. Archived from the original on 2010-05-18. Retrieved 9 April 2012
  12. ^ a b (online)
  13. ^ Dempsey, 1969
  14. ^ Calgary Herald, May 29, 1889, p. 8
  15. ^ "Indigenous Ward Naming Knowledge Committee | City of Edmonton". City of Edmonton. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  16. ^ Holmgren and Holmgren, 1972
  17. ^ Aubrey, p.159
  18. ^ "History of James Mowat".
  19. ^ Edmonton Bulletin, May 6, 1897
  20. ^[bare URL PDF]
  21. ^ a b Aubrey, p.172
  22. ^ a b Aubrey, p.173
  23. ^ Indigenous Place Names of Edmonton | Edmonton – Open Data Portal (online)
  24. ^ Indigenous Place Names of Edmonton | Edmonton – Open Data Portal (online)
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Harrison, Place Names of Alberta, volume 3
  26. ^ "Renamed Maskêkosihk Trail part of City's ongoing reconciliation commitment," CBC News, 12 Feb. 2016
  27. ^ MacEwan, Fifty Mighty Men
  28. ^ Aubrey, p.210
  29. ^ "Ministik".
  30. ^ Aubrey, p.215
  31. ^ Aubrey, p.217
  32. ^ Moose Lake, Alberta
  33. ^ (other places names of indigenous origin in the area are Blackfoot West End and Crowfoot)
  34. ^ a b Michaelides, Bathroom Book of Alberta History, p. 144
  35. ^ ePodunk. "Notikewin". Retrieved March 17, 2010
  36. ^ Cree dictionary. "nôtinikewin". Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  37. ^ "Oldman River," Historica Canada website
  38. ^ "Peace River". BC Geographical Names.
  39. ^ William Peter Baergen, Pioneering with a Piece of Chalk, p. 414
  40. ^ Hugh A. Dempsey, Indian Names for Alberta Communities, p. 16
  41. ^ Wikipedia "Piikani First Nation"
  42. ^ " - Skoki Mountain".
  43. ^ Edmonton Bulletin, 3 Jan. 1881; 18 April 1885; 16 Sept. 1897
  44. ^ Harrison, Place Names of Alberta, Volume 3
  45. ^ Michaelides, Bathroom Book of Alberta History, p. 142
  46. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary, 'caribou'
  47. ^ 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
  48. ^ BC Names entry "Gataga Mountain"
  49. ^ "Klemtu". BC Geographical Names.
  50. ^ "Kwadacha River". BC Geographical Names.
  51. ^ "Caribou Hide (community)". BC Geographical Names.
  52. ^ "Nadina River". BC Geographical Names.
  53. ^ "Nakusp (village)". BC Geographical Names.
  54. ^ "New Brunswick "What's in a Name"".
  55. ^ "Acadian History:Maliseet History:Acadian Ancestral Home".
  56. ^ "About Quispamsis".
  57. ^ "Sicamous (district municipality)". BC Geographical Names.
  58. ^ "Toodoggone River". BC Geographical Names.
  59. ^ "Government of Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – New Brunswick". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  60. ^ "Central Quebec School Board – Places & Origin of Names". Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  61. ^ "Petitcodiac River : Etymology".
  62. ^ a b "Seary Article – Place Names". Archived from the original on 25 July 2002. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  63. ^ "Makkovik |". Archived from the original on 3 November 2005. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  64. ^ "Mi'kmaq Organizations and Land Claims".
  65. ^ "Pepamuteiati nitassinat: As we walk across our land". 1 May 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  66. ^ "Nunatsiavut Government |". Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  67. ^ "Sheshatshiu". Archived from the original on 20 April 2006. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  68. ^ "Torngat mountains". Archived from the original on 11 December 2005. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  69. ^ "Town History". Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  70. ^ "Labrador West". Archived from the original on 25 October 2005. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  71. ^ Paskal, Cleo (10 June 2006). "The Toronto Star – Harbouring a host of delights". Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  72. ^ "Mi'kmaq – Words, Pronunciation – Jipugtug (with audio clips)". Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  73. ^ " – Halifax's History – Jipugtug (or Chebucto)". Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  74. ^ " – Transportation – Public Works – New highway named Cobequid Pass". Government of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  75. ^ "Acadian-Cajun, Genealogy & History – Exile Destination – Cobequid". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  76. ^ " – History of Pictou – By historian Ron Wallis". Archived from the original on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  77. ^ "Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, County place names". Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  78. ^ " – Local Histories – Pugwash". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  79. ^ "Sympatico, MSN Travel – Nova Scotia's Northern Shore, Pugwash". Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  80. ^ "Museum, Government of Nova Scotia – 511 Windsor Lowlands". Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  81. ^ 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
  82. ^ a b c d e Freelang Ojibwe Dictionary
  83. ^ Rayburn, Alan, Place Names of Ontario, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997, p. 258.
  84. ^ Bright (2004:508–9)

Further reading[edit]