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Dildo, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Unincorporated place
A road sign directing drivers towards Dildo.
A road sign directing drivers towards Dildo.
Country  Canada
Province  Newfoundland and Labrador
Census division Division 1
Census subdivision Subdivision E
Population (2011)
 • Total 1,198

Dildo is an unincorporated place on the island of Newfoundland, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is located on the southeastern Dildo Arm of Trinity Bay about 60 kilometres west of St. John's. South Dildo is a neighbouring unincorporated community. The town's unusual name has brought it a certain amount of notoriety.[1][2][3]


Trinity Bay with Dildo Island in the middle and Dildo Arm on the right

The place name "Dildo" is attested in this area since at least 1711, though how this came to be is unknown. The origin of the word "dildo" itself is obscure. It was once used to reference a phallus-shaped pin stuck in the edging of a row boat to act as a pivot for the oar (also known as a "thole pin" or "dole pin").[4] It was used as early as the 16th century for a cylindrical object such as a dildo glass (test tube), for a phallus-shaped sex toy, as an insult for a "contemptuous or reviling" male, and as a refrain in ballads.[5]

The name, then written as "Dildoe", was first applied to Dildo Island, located offshore from the present-day town of Dildo. This use was recorded in 1711 and 1775, and the name was thereafter applied to the Dildo Arm of Trinity Bay and other local physical features. Social scientist William Baillie Hamilton notes that Captain James Cook and his assistant Michael Lane, who mapped Newfoundland in the 1760s, often displayed a sense of humour in the place names they chose,[citation needed] and were not above selecting names that might offend over-sensitive readers. Regardless of the origin, the name has brought the town of Dildo a measure of notoriety. In the 20th century there were several campaigns to change the name, though all failed.[6]


The Dildo area has a long history, going as far back as 2000 BC when Maritime Archaic aboriginal people resided at Anderson's Cove. By 700 AD, people of the Dorset culture inhabited Dildo Island. In 1613, Henry Crout, whilst sailing up Dildo Arm, came in contact with the Beothuks, who were residing on Dildo Island at this time. He traded with them and left gifts. In 1711 the inhabitants of Trinity Bay were ordered by Governor Crow to leave their homes during the winter, to defend themselves against the French, who burned their houses. Dildo Island was one of the places designated for this purpose. The town of Dildo was founded in the late 18th century and settled to exploit the abundance of marine resources such as fish (mostly cod), whales and seals.[7]



  1. ^ "15 Most Unfortunate Town Names". 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  2. ^ "History of Dildo Name". Kountry Kravins n' Krafts. 2005. 
  3. ^ Pitt, Steve (May 1, 2004). "You Name It, We've Got It". Legion Magazine. Royal Canadian Legion. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  4. ^ Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador
  5. ^ "Dildo (1.)". Oxford English Dictionary. June 1989. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ Hamilton, William Baillie (1996). Place Names of Atlantic Canada. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7570-3. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ Petty, Andrew D. (2008). "The History of All Saints'". All Saints' Anglican Church. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 

Coordinates: 47°33′52″N 53°32′57″W / 47.56444°N 53.54917°W / 47.56444; -53.54917