Using Raincoast Place Names


User’s Guide




You may browse through the index (link on left), or enter a search term in the "Search this Book" box. But please note—one entry may include a few related place names, so don't give up if you search for "Siwash Rock" and only "Siwash Bay" comes up in the search results. Go to the article "Siwash Bay" and you will see that Siwash Rock as well as Siwash Cove are included here. Alternatively, simply type in only the main word of the place name you are looking for (e.g. Siwash) and the entry that includes all forms of Siwash will appear.

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User's Guide

Of the nearly 42,000 place names in the British Columbia gazetteer, about 9,000 are associated with the coast. This book deals, in 4,000 entries, with approximately 5,200 of those coastal names. So what is not included? Roughly 1,500 names for which I have been able to find no data at all have been omitted. I’ve left out another 1,200 or so because they are purely descriptive or generic. It seems pointless, for instance, to include entries for West Island, Rugged Point and Gull Rock (unless something of particular interest took place there). The remaining omissions concern names with available source information that is so inadequate or unreliable or conflicting that to include an entry would just add to the confusion. With very few exceptions, only official or “gazetted” names have entries. Important alternative, obsolete and locally used names are listed alphabetically but then cross-referenced to the current, gazetted form of the name, where they may be discussed in more detail. When a historically significant individual is commemorated with many place names, these are usually all dealt with in a single entry. Colonial governor James Douglas, for instance, gave his name to James Bay and James Island as well as to Douglas Channel and Douglas Point. In such instances, the basic biographical entry will always be associated with the surname; a smaller entry for the James names is cross-referenced to the main Douglas entry. This book is principally about the history of the place names, not the places themselves. For that I refer you to the Encyclopedia of British Columbia. However, a brief historical overview of a place is sometimes included as background for the reader. Additional information, often quite detailed, may also be present for obscure but interesting sites, especially if it is not readily available elsewhere. The word-by-word style of alphabetization is used in this online version of the book. This means that entries are alphabetized up to the end of the first word. So Beech Islet goes before Beechey Head. If more than one place name has the same first word, the entries would be alphabetized according to the second word. In this case, the order is White Cliff Point, White Point, White Rock (and continuing with Whiteaves Bay). This is different than the letter-by-letter “dictionary” style of alphabetization.

Geographic references and coordinates are included for each coastal place name. If coordinates are not listed, then they are the same as those for the other features in the entry. References are given in relation to major features or communities (Port Hardy, for instance, or Queen Charlotte Strait or Princess Royal Island) that most readers will know. Basic maps are included to aid readers unfamiliar with the BC coast. References are given from the perspective of a mariner: the “west entrance” to a bay or cove, for example, is the point (rock, cliff, etc.) at the west side of its mouth; the “west approach” to a bay is farther out to sea than the west entrance but in the same general area. Coastal features, such as islands, channels, coves and bays, points and peninsulas, are those that can be viewed from a passing boat. Rivers and mountains may be coastal as well, depending on how visible they are from the water. And rocks, shoals, reefs and banks, while not always visible, are certainly important aspects of coastal geography. If a geographic feature is listed in Sailing Directions, the comprehensive guide to coastal navigation published and regularly updated by the Canadian Hydrographic Service, then it qualifies, in my view, as coastal. In this book, coastal features are boldfaced, spelled without abbreviations and given geographic co-ordinates when they are the subjects of entries. Non-coastal BC geographic features, while frequently mentioned and discussed, are not given this treatment. Sailing Directions covers the lower reaches of the Fraser River, to Pitt Lake and Harrison Lake; this work does not. I only include place names from the mouths or estuaries of the major rivers, which, in the case of the Fraser, stops just short of New Westminster. This book is written for a general audience and for contemporary sensibilities. The text, at the risk of annoying some nautical friends and colleagues, does not adopt all aspects of naval and marine terminology—no matter how deeply held such language may be. Thus vessels in this book have no gender, the names of warships are often prefixed by the article “the” (frowned upon by naval personnel) and mariners serve “on” a ship more often than they do “in” one.

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Adm Admiral

AFC Air Force Cross

AFM Air Force Medal

Apr April

Assoc Association

Aug August

b born (only in reference to birth/death dates)

BC British Columbia

BNA British North America

Bros Brothers

c circa or about (only in reference to birth/death dates)

Capt Captain

CB Companion of the Order of the Bath

CBE Companion of the Order of the British Empire

Cdr Commander

CFB, CFS Canadian Forces Base, Canadian Forces Station

CGS Canadian Government Ship

CHS Canadian Hydrographic Service

Ck Creek (only in geographical names)

CMG Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George

CMS Church Missionary Society

CNR Canadian National Railways

Co Company (only in business names)

CO Commanding Officer

Col Colonel

Corp Corporation

Cpl Corporal

CPN Canadian Pacific Navigation Company

CPR Canadian Pacific Railway

CVA City of Vancouver Archives

died (only in reference to birth/death dates)

D See additional information in The Queen Charlotte Islands: Places and Names, by Kathleen E Dalzell

DC District of Columbia

Dec December

Dept Department

DFC Distinguished Flying Cross

DFM Distinguished Flying Medal

DSC Distinguished Service Cross

DSO Distinguished Service Order

E east (usually spelled out in proper names)

E See additional information in the Encyclopedia of British Columbia, edited by Daniel Francis

E&N Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway

Feb February

Fr Father (for religious titles only)

Ft Fort (only in geographical names)

GB Great Britain

Gen General

Gov Governor

GPS Global Positioning System

GTP Grand Trunk Pacific Railway

ha hectare, hectares

HBC Hudson’s Bay Company

Hbr Harbour (only in geographical names)

HMCS His/Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship(s)

HMNZS His/Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship(s)

HMS His/Her Majesty’s Ship(s)

Hon Honourable

hp horsepower

HQ headquarters

Hts Heights (only in geographical names)

Hwy Highway

I, Is Island, Islands (only in geographical names)

It, Its Islet, Islets (only in geographical names)

Jan January

Jr Junior

KCB Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

km, km/h kilometre, kilometres; kilometres per hour

LA Los Angeles

Lk, Lks Lake, Lakes (only in geographical names)

Lt Lieutenant

Ltd Limited (only in business names)

m metre, metres

Maj Major

Mar March

MC Military Cross

MCR Museum at Campbell River

MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MLA Member of Legislative Assembly (provincial)

MM Military Medal

MP Member of Parliament (federal or British)

Mt, Mtn Mount, Mountain (only in geographical names)

MW megawatts

N north (usually spelled out in proper names)

NB New Brunswick

NCO Non-commissioned officer

NE northeast (usually spelled out in proper names)

Nfld Newfoundland

Nov November

NS Nova Scotia

NW northwest (usually spelled out in proper names)

NWC North West Company

NWT Northwest Territories (earlier spelled North-West)

NY New York

NZ New Zealand

OBE Order of the British Empire

Oct October

Ont Ontario

PEI Prince Edward Island

PGE Pacific Great Eastern Railway

PM Prime Minister

PNW Pacific Northwest

QCI Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii)

Que Quebec

qv which see (quod vide)

R River (only in geographical names)

RCAF Royal Canadian Air Force

RCMP Royal Canadian Mounted Police

RCN Royal Canadian Navy

RCNR Royal Canadian Navy Reserve

RCNVR Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve

Rd Road

RE Royal Engineer(s)

Rev Reverend

Rk, Rks Rock, Rocks (only in geographical names)

RN Royal Navy

RNR Royal Navy Reserve

RNVR Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve

Rwy Railway (in proper names only)

S south (usually spelled out in proper names)

Sask Saskatchewan

Sd Sound (only in geographical names)

SE southeast (usually spelled out in proper names)

Sept September

Sgt Sergeant

sp species

SS Steamship

St Street, Saint (in proper names only)

Str Strait (only in geographical names)

Sub-Lt Sub-Lieutenant

SW southwest (usually spelled out in proper names)

TB tuberculosis

UBC University of British Columbia

UK United Kingdom

Univ University

US United States

UVic University of Victoria

VC Victoria Cross

VMM Vancouver Maritime Museum

VPL Vancouver Public Library

W west (usually spelled out in proper names)

W See additional information in Capt John T Walbran’s British Columbia Coast Names 1592–1906

WWI, WWII World War I, World War II

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